Interested in Joining the Sailing Team?
Here's Some Basic 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. Come out to one of our practices at the lake (please contact us if you plan to do this - the school has some paperwork for you to sign), or come to one of our team meetings. During Fall Quarter is when we usually have the most wiggle room for new teammates with little to no experience. Our lessons both on the chalk board and on the water during this time will get you up to speed - they are geared for new learners, and for refreshers for those coming back to sailing! Winter Quarter is a cold time to learn, but if you're willing we can teach. Spring Quarter, if you are interested in joining the team, we suggest that you instead take the PE 170 course offered through the school, and join in the Fall. This is 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!
Where do you practice? How often?
We practice at Lakewood Boathouse northeast of WWU's campus on Lake Whatcom. For more info about the facility, click here.
We practice three times a week, MWF for Fall and Spring Quarter and MWR during Winter Quarter. Practices run about 3-4 hours from arriving at the lake to heading home. We arrange carpools, so don't worry if you don't have transportation! We will find a way to get you there.
Wondering about the time commitment outside of practice? Take a peek at our regatta schedule. We also hold weekly meetings on campus that aren't mandatory, but are strongly recommended. These are usually under an hour, and are used to discuss any need to know info and for brief lessons.
Do I have to "race" if I'm on the team?
Nope! We're not going to twist your arm too hard, but we do encourage everyone to try racing as it's a great way to learn more boat skills. We understand that people are here to enjoy the sport. We do suggest, however, that if you are looking to do sailing as a leisure-based activity, that you consider taking the PE course instead. While we don't require regatta attendance, we do focus heavily on racing and 'make-your-boat-go-fast' skill sets. These will help you become a better sailor, but we find that those who are invested in the regattas get a little bit more out of being on the team than those who aren't.
How do I know if I'll fit in?
Each and every one of us here 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 team that already has a lot of people on it, it is also a rewarding experience. We try our best to encourage a strong community by hosting 'team bonding' events every quarter, from potlucks to 'Teamsgiving' to ice skating to 'Valenteams' day and hot cocoa nights - and we are always open to new ideas. We also send out quarterly surveys to check in and see how everyone is doing, and to address any issues that people might be experiencing.
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 and handling the control lines in the boat.
There are occasionally opportunities to sail other (larger) boats as well! Lakewood has a J-22 and two Solings available for sailing, and there are local sailors with a variety of boats on Bellingham Bay who enjoy having our team members head out with them.
Who do you sail against?
Western is part of the Northwest Intercollegiate Sailing Association. Under the umbrella of the Intercollegiate Sailing association, it is one of 7 districts recognized, and the smallest. The other teams we compete against regularly include Oregon State University, Lewis & Clark College, University of British Columbia, University of Oregon, Portland State University, University of Victoria, and University of Washington.
We also travel for intersectional regattas, such as those in Hawaii and California, where we compete against schools from other districts. At Nationals, we compete against some of the best college sailors in the country.