Interested in Becoming a WWU Sailor?
Here's Some General Information
Do I need to know how to sail?
No! We are willing to teach walk-ons as long as they share our values and are committed to learning as well as racing. Send us an email for the most up-to-date info on how to join! The best time to join the team is the beginning of Fall Quarter. We focus our fall practices on teaching to sail and race, and later in the year move on to training for more competitive spring events. Your sailing education with us will be focused on racing, and may feel fast paced, so be ready to learn a lot right away! If that is not your speed the Out Door Center has paired with Western's water-sports facility, Lakewood, to offer sailing courses the first two weeks of Fall Quarter. Due to the nature of our spring season - we are getting ready for intersectional and national competitions, and may not have time to teach incoming sailors as slowly as fall but we do not discourage people to join.
Where do you practice? How often?
We practice at Lakewood Watersports Facility on Lake Whatcom. For more info about the facility, click here.
We practice three times a week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday for Fall and Spring Quarter. Fall and Spring practice is 3:30 to 6:30, and Winter practice is 2:30 to 5:30 to adjust for an earlier sunset and we vote on the days of practice right before Fall Quarter ends. We carpool as a team, leaving campus 30 minutes before practice.
Wondering about the time commitment outside of practice? We hold weekly meetings on campus in the evening, ranging from 30 minutes to an hour in length. These are mandatory as we discuss regatta planning, teach concepts, and discuss team membership requirements. Email us about our regatta schedule to see the time commitment for weekend competitions. Fall 2023 we are having a regatta almost every weekend.
Do I have to "race" if I'm on the team?
Well, that's the idea. We are a collegiate racing team and that is the program you'll become a part of. Attendance is extremely important, but we know that class is another huge commitment, sometimes conflicting with practice times. We want you to sail with us as much as you can, even if that isn't every day, but you may not be chosen to come to a more competitive event if you can't attend practice very often. We do suggest that if you are looking to sail more casually, consider taking the Lakewood sailing class instead. Attending regattas can be intimidating if you're new to the sport, but our program will prepare you fully to compete, and you won't be alone.
How do I know if I'll fit in?
Each of us are college students and we share a common love. We want to share sailing with everyone that we can - and that includes you. While it may be intimidating to join a new team or try a new sport, it is a very rewarding experience. We encourage a strong community by hosting 'team bonding' events every quarter, from game/movie nights to 'Teamsgiving' and much more. We're a team, it doesn't matter to us if you're an Olympian or if you touch a boat for the first time on our first day of practice, if you're willing to be dedicated, humble, and ready to learn you have a place here if you want one.
What kind of boats do you sail?
We sail 14-foot long dinghies called Flying Juniors, or FJs for short. They are two person boats, requiring a skipper and a crew. The skipper is the person who is in charge of the large main sail in the center of the boat, as well as steering, and the crew is in charge of the smaller front sail, keeping the boat flat, looking for other boats, and handling the control lines in the boat.
There are occasionally opportunities to sail other boats as well! Lakewood has three J-22's, Alphas, which were designed by a WWU Alumni in the 199's, Lasers, and soon will trade the Alphas for Quests that are for sailing.
Who do you sail against?
Western is part of the North West Intercollegiate Sailing Association. Under the umbrella of the Pacific Coast Collegiate Sailing Conference, it is one of 5 North West districts recognized and the smallest. The other teams we compete against regularly include Oregon State University, University of British Columbia, University of Oregon, Portland State University, and University of Washington.
We also travel to regattas, such as those in Hawaii and California, where we compete against schools from the broader Pacific Coast Conference we are apart of. At Nationals, we compete against some of the best college sailors in the country from West and East Coast.