The Hillsdale College Sailing Club acquired three sailboats from the Notre Dame Sailing Team earlier this month, which will allow the club to expand and develop its techniques.
Purchased for the club by an anonymous donor, the LaserPerformance Club 420s came with sails, lines, and dollies. They will be housed at the Hillsdale Country Club to allow for easy access to Baw Beese Lake.
The club has been operating without a fleet since it began in spring 2017, which has put it at a significant disadvantage against the teams it competes with, as most practice on the water at least thrice weekly.
Although the club was formerly limited to strategizing and classroom learning, it will now be able to practice the fundamentals of boat handling before competing in regattas.
Sophomore Leahi Johsens, vice commodore of the sailing club, has been a member of the club since the fall of her freshman year. She said she is excited about the impact owning boats will have on the club.
“We had been going to regattas without any practice,” she said. “Having the boats will be really helpful to increase our skill level and do better in regattas, and to become better sailors in general.”
In addition to enabling the club to master boat handling, practicing on the water will allow team members to learn to work together before competing.
Fleet Captain and junior Mary Margaret Ryland has sailed competitively since high school and said familiarity with the team dynamic is essential to members working together effectively.
“The skipper-crew relationship has to be practiced,” she said.
In the past, club members often did not get the opportunity to sail together before regattas, but owning sailboats will allow them to strengthen crew relationships with regular practice.
Owning boats will also allow the club to expand and welcome members lacking previous sailing experience. Without boats, the club was only open to experienced sailors, as it was unable to train new members.
“We’ve had a ton of people interested in the club, and now we can show them how to sail,” said Ryland.
Co-founder and former commodore Pearce Pomerleau, senior, looks forward to sharing the sportsmanship of sailing with any interested students.
“Sailing is a close sporting community; it’s about fostering sport and making sure everyone is included,” said Pomerleau. “Now we’re able to do that.”
Regatta Chairman Lauren Hearne, sophomore, said she feels purchasing the sailboats was a huge milestone for the sailing club.
“The sailing club was a group of people who liked to sail,” she said. “Now we’re a complete team.”
Ryland said she hopes owning boats will ensure the longevity of the sailing club, and looks forward to keeping up with the club as an alumna.
“Now we can build a team that will last,” she said.