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College Sailing Spotlight: UNC Wilmington

The University of North Carolina ­Wilmington Sailing Team is a student-run club team driven with enthusiasm and commitment.

August 21, 2017
college sailing
The UNC Wilmington team practices at Carolina Yacht Club. Courtesy of UNC Wilmington

The University of North Carolina ­Wilmington Sailing Team is a student-run club team driven with enthusiasm and commitment. Their dedication and work is what keeps the team running smoothly and enables them to always be improving. “We strive primarily to teach each other and continue improving our skills while consistently competing and maintaining membership status to the South Atlantic Intercollegiate ­Sailing Association,” says Taylor Wood, the ­sailing team’s president.

Much of the team’s planning and ­organization falls on Wood’s shoulders, but team members support her, as does Dr. Rick Campbell, who originally started the team at the school many years ago. Campbell works at the school and helps the team when he can by attending practices and helping to host its home regatta in October of each year.

The squad practices twice per week, and team members are expected to attend as often as they can to continue to hone their skills. “We look for people with some sort of experience in sailing to build on, and they need to have the proper gear,” Wood says of recruiting sailors.

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Like many collegiate-club sailing teams, those currently on the roster attend an activity fair on campus in fall to get the word out about sailing and to collect information from freshmen and other interested students.

“An increasing number of incoming freshmen also reach out to the team president after finding the team either on Facebook or Instagram,” says Wood. “Our team is financed primarily by dues paid by members each semester, which go directly to traveling costs.”

Other funding for the sailing team is obtained through sending donation letters to family and friends of team members each fall. They also receive assistance from the school.

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“A goal of our donation letters is to eventually purchase a powerboat for the team since we do not have one consistently available to us, and it’s instrumental in running races during practices,” Wood explains.

The sailing team doesn’t own its boats. Instead it maintains a relationship with Carolina YC on Wrightsville Beach, about a 15-minute drive from campus, which generously allows the use of its 10 Club 420s.

“The team maintains the overall order and cleanliness of the club while being respectful of the members and of what the waterfront director asks of us,” says Wood. “We go through a list at the end of each practice to make sure the boats, sails and rudders are all put away correctly. We also do a workday each season where everyone goes through every boat and all the sails to repair any damages or general wear and tear to help keep the fleet in order.”

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The team hosts a regatta every October, which takes place off the beach at their venue. Typical weather is favorable: temperatures in the 70s and moderate winds with some current, providing great conditions for regattas and practice. The spring brings cooler air and stronger winds, between 10 and 20 miles per hour.

The team is small but mighty, with nine to 13 members, four to six of whom travel to regattas on the weekends. “We travel to five or six regattas each ­season hosted by colleges in North ­Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida,” says Wood. And one point of pride for the team is its success inside its own district. “Our team consistently qualifies for SAISA Coed Championships each semester, which means we place in the top six of schools in the northern region of SAISA.”

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