Alabama’s Auburn University Sailing Club is a highly organized group of sailors. The distinction they make between the racing and recreational sides of the club is unique.
The team sails out of the Dixie Sailing Club on Lake Martin, an hour from campus. The long drive forces the sailors to plan their practices and events carefully, as they typically spend most of the day out on the lake.
“Over the past 20 years or so, we have welcomed the Auburn Sailing Club as collegiate members,” says Jim Simons, president of the Dixie Sailing Club Youth Program. “The AUSC participates in our club races, helps with work parties, and supports our youth program.”
In the past two years, the AUSC has gone from not having a 420 fleet to owning eight 420s and a coach boat. The club also owns a few Catalinas, a Super Sunfish and a Cape Dory Typhoon. “Our racing program focuses on collegiate regattas and practices, while our club side is for more casual sailors,” says club commodore Brent DeAngelis. “The racing side utilizes the 420 fleet and the chase boat, while the casual side typically involves daysailing to a nearby island.”
The racing team participates in approximately nine regattas per year. “Hopefully we’ll have more in the future as we add invitationals and women’s events to our schedule,” DeAngelis says. “When it comes to sailors who go to regattas, we look for the dedicated ones. The individuals who have shown a commitment are rewarded.”
The club encourages its members to be active but does not have any physical-fitness or sailing requirements in place. “We exist to promote and encourage sailing at the university, and thus strive to be a very inclusive club,” says DeAngelis. “With this, we do not mandate our members to achieve a certain number of practices or workouts. Our motto is ‘You get out what you put in.’”
Auburn students have run the team for a long time, but next year, graduating commodore DeAngelis is planning to help coach the team. “We are very excited to have this opportunity to have a coach,” says Jonathan Ashworth, team president. “Practices are key, and a coach adds much-needed structure and stability in this area.”
Another important aspect of the team is its fundraising efforts. The club receives some support from the Auburn Recreation Center, but the sailors raise most funds.
“We are always trying out new ideas each semester to keep engagement up,” says DeAngelis. “We started an annual banquet night — meant to be a senior send-off and an opportunity to recognize key individuals who have impacted the club — but it was such a success that it has become a yearly tradition for the club.”
The team also hosts a “sailgate” for every home football game. An out-of-commission Laser turns into a table and cooler for the festivities. “It’s a lot of fun and a great way to build community in our club,” DeAngelis says.
Goals moving forward for the sailing club include completing the 420 fleet with four more boats, hosting their own SAISA regatta, and continuing to help the Dixie Sailing Club Youth Program. “It is of mutual benefit for both programs, and our aim is to make the most of it,” says Ashworth. — Jennifer Mitchell