Sailors on the Georgia Institute of Technology sailing team saw a drone taking pictures at a regatta one weekend and thought it would be a great way to promote their team, learn from the footage, and help teach beginning sailors about racing. Team members Wheeler Sutton and Darby Reddaway took action.
“We decided to start a GoFundMe page that day, and we were surprised how much money we raised in just a few weeks,” says Wheeler Sutton, the Georgia Tech team’s treasurer. “We’ve made a couple of videos and posted photos after regattas. It really helps our team get some recognition but, more important, helps us to promote SAISA.”
Sutton and his teammates want to show their teams’ enthusiasm for the sport, but also the strength and prowess of the South Atlantic sailing conference.
“When people think of the best college teams, they typically think of the Northeast,” says Sutton. “I think we are showing everyone how competitive our region is by posting our videos and photos from regattas.”
As a club team, the Georgia Tech sailors are no strangers to fundraising.
“We rely a lot on fundraising from outside sources to buy new boats and equipment,” says Sutton. “Our biggest fundraising event is our annual Open Regatta, which we started last year. Some of our other events include benefit nights at restaurants such as Chipotle and Yogli Mogli, and ‘sailgates’ before football games.”
In 2005 the team bought a fleet of 420s, which has allowed them to host events, spark more interest on campus for racing, and take the team to the next level of competition.
“We keep in contact with our alumni via social media and when we travel to SAISA regattas,” says Darby Reddaway, the race team captain. “They are always so willing to open up their houses to us for a place to stay when we travel.”
Weekend competition is a favorite aspect of college sailing for Sutton and Reddaway. “I like meeting sailors from other schools,” says Sutton. “I think it’s cool how we get to sail with the same people every weekend and really develop friendships with them.”
“I like how competitive it is,” says Reddaway. “The races are short, so you can easily go from first to fifth or vice versa. You always have to be on top of your game, and every tack, rounding and jibe counts.”
“We’re all close as a team, so sailing has been a big part of my college experience. Some of my best friends are on the team,” explains Sutton. “It’s one of those extracurricular activities that you can incorporate into a majority of your collegiate career,” says Reddaway. “It gets me away from school and gives me a break from the city, but it also provides academic help, from the older sailors who have already taken your classes. Being in a position on the executive board has also helped me enhance my leadership skills and take on the responsibility of being the person in charge of coordinating practices, regattas and everything in between.”