On Deck With UCI's Sailing Association

Published in the New University June 4th, 2007
By Marissa Camilon
Staff Writer

Most UC Irvine students know how to take advantage of our proximity to beautiful beaches, whether it is by surfing, body boarding or just plain tanning. Yet there is one water sport that often goes unnoticed by Anteaters: sailing. To be competitive, this sport needs as much strength, stamina and determination as any other sport out there, as shown by the talent of the members of the UCI Sailing Association and the Intercollegiate Sailing Team.

Started in 1965 before the campus was even open, UCISA is open to all members of the UCI campus as well as their spouses. Classes to become sailing-certified are offered through the ARC in four-to-five week periods in which participants meet one day a week for about four hours. From the very first day, students are out on the waters of Newport Harbor sailing on ?Capris? boats, which are 14 feet long. After passing rating tests, students are given a ?Capri rating.? Along with membership to UCISA, students are able to use the UCI Capris in Newport Harbor to sail either on their own or with friends and family.

The next rating is for “Shields,” which are larger keelboats that are around 30 feet long and can carry four to five people who work as the crew. With additional training and tests, students can eventually become Shields Skippers, which means that they are capable of managing the crew on a Shields Keelboat and can sail the boat around the harbor.

While the idea of taking more classes, studying and passing more tests may seem a bit mundane to students, the members of UCISA ensure that sailing classes are far from ordinary.

“[Sailing] is anything you want it to be. If you need to relax, this is your sport. If you want excitement, this is also your sport. If you need intellectual challenge, this is definitely your sport!” said Jane Hartley, staff commodore of UCISA.

“The UCISA gives students an opportunity to get involved in an activity which normally most of us wouldn’t be able to afford. Learning to sail through a private company is expensive and even more expensive is renting or buying a boat. Sailing is a great sport and its cool that the UCISA is able to make it available to a group of young college students,” said Bryan Gohn, a second-year film and media studies major.

UCISA provides a warm environment for all sailing enthusiasts to interact with one another, as well as providing members the opportunity to continue to learn and develop their skills on the water. Another main directive of the UCISA is to expose the general public of UCI and its guests to the thrills of sailing. Guests are welcome to share in the experience of sailing a ship by simply signing a waiver form and getting fitted for a life jacket. With monthly meetings, social events, harbor tours, night sails and club racing, there are plenty of opportunities for everyone to get their “sea legs.”

“Sailing is open to everyone. It is non-discriminating, unlike a lot of other sports. You can be young or old, male or female, physical or non-physical—there is a different boat for everyone to get out there in the sun and [have] fun,” said Tim Martin, a sailing instructor and a UCISA member.

In the end, acquiring a rating means members not only gain the knowledge required to sail a boat but also develop skills that can be used in other areas. “In addition to being a great pastime, sailing provides students an environment in which they can learn leadership skills, further develop social skills and teach others the craft and share their joy of the art in a non-confrontational way,” said Michael Brenner, an alumni of the Paul Merage School of Business.

Unlike other sports, sailing can be enjoyed throughout the year, especially here in Southern California.

“With our weather here, you can sail everyday,” Martin said. He added, “I get out on the water every chance I get.”

While many may view sailing as a challenging sport, it is actually surprisingly safe. “Sometimes people bump into things on the boat but they’re just minor things,” said Bill Cohen, vice commodore of UCISA. “We call those ‘boat bites.’”

A testament to the real excitement of sailing is seen through the UCI Intercollegiate Sailing Team, which is run by UCI Athletics. Comprised of 20 men and women of all years and majors, the team competes in races and invitationals throughout the entire academic year, allowing them to travel to places like New York and Honolulu, Hawaii.

Just last week, the team competed in the Intercollegiate Sailing Association/Gill Coed National Championship at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. After 36 exhausting races, the team was awarded fourth place among 18 schools that participated.

However, for the members of UCISA, sailing is more than just a sport or a skill. To some, it’s an escape.

“When I sail, I think of nothing specific except sailing,” said third-year biomedical engineering major and UCISA commodore, Rhett Roback. “It gives me a chance to escape my responsibilities, my class work and just zone out. I can appreciate being alive when I’m out on the water.”

More importantly, sailing is a lifestyle. “There are not many life sports where you can participate in your entire life,” Martin said. “Sailing is a life sport and open to all.”

Added Hartley, “We’re all there, friends on the water.”

For more information on UCISA, check out their Web site at http://www.sailingclub.net.

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