Started in the Spring of 2003 by Jack Oppenhuizen and Jake Geller, the ASU Sailing Club is dedicated to the development of young sailors as well as giving disabled sailors an opportunity to get on the water and participate in the sport they love.  They sail Club FJs and a Martin 16.  Many of the sailors are US Sailing Small Boat instructors.  They began competing in the Pacific Coast Collegiate Sailing Conference (PCCSC) in the Summer of 2007 and the club is now a Regular Member of the conference. 

Jack with Loren in Martin 16.
Jack Oppenhuizen and Jake Geller originally founded the ASU Sailing Club in the spring semester of 2003. Oppenhuizen is the executive director of Voyages Unbound, a non-profit organization whose mission is to develop personal leadership skills and team building skills through the sport of sailing for everyone regardless of ability. Voyages Unbound is the basis for the mission of the ASU Sailing Club, except that the ASU Sailing Club is specifically for the ASU community. At that time, the ASU Sailing Club was the ASU branch of Voyages Unbound. The ASU Sailing Club was completely managed and financed by this larger organization. Voyages Unbound had 11 sailboats, including two adapted boats for sailors with disabilities.
Aidan and Mark with Martin 16
Aidan and Mark guiding the Martin 16 into the slip with Jake at the helm.

A new beginning

In September 2005, Voyages Unbound decided to make the ASU Sailing Club its own entity and ASU purchased three of the boats, two Club FJs used in intercollegiate competition and a Martin 16 adapted for people with disabilities, for the sailing club to use. The ASU Sailing Club also has use of a safety launch that is shared between the sailing club and the ASU Rowing Club.

Geller became president when the ASU Sailing Club became an independent entity. Mark Rice, an American Sailing Association (ASA) certified instructor, became vice president and in charge of sailing and sailing instruction. The club’s other certified instructor, Aidan Windebank was also the safety officer. The other officers are secretary and treasurer. Among the leadership are peer sail instructors, who are not certified, but know enough about sailing to teach less experienced sailors. The club also has instructors from the community and alumni. All instructors are volunteer coaches and community members are encouraged to volunteer.

Award winning program

Johan and Brian
Johan and Brian tying safety boat to dock.

In January 2005, the Community Sailing Council of The United States Sailing Association (US SAILING) honored the ASU Sailing Club for having an outstanding program for disabled sailors in 2005 and in May 2006, the club received the Valued Community Service Award at the 2006 Tempe Mayor’s Disability Awards.

In March 2006, the sailing club had the opportunity to participate in an US SAILING Small Boat Sailing Level I instructor training class sponsored by the Arizona Yacht Club and the club had two new US SAILING certified instructors, Brian Page and Johan Haarman. The certification allows the club to teach a US SAILING small boat sailing class which is nationally and internationally recognized.

Competition begins

In the spring semester of 2006, the club started to do competitive racing with the Arizona Yacht Club on Sundays at Tempe Town Lake. The races are generally every other week and there are at least 20 sailboats entered.

The ASU Sailing Club became an associate member of the Pacific Coast Collegiate Sailing Conference (PCCSC) in July 2007 which allowed the club to compete in intercollegiate competition.

Peter sailing Martin 16
Peter sailing Martin 16.

Sailing for all

In October 2007, the ASU Sailing Club raised $7400 and ordered the autohelm/windlas for the Martin 16 which allows a person with limited mobility to control the boat with either an electronic joystick or the sailors breath by using the sip and puff controls. This would not been possible without the generous support of Lee Rizzuto, owner of the Conair Corporation; Jerry Kahn, founder of the Fulham Group; and the John Figy Adaptive Sports Endowment Fund. The club received and installed the autohelm/windlass in Jan. 2009.

Intercollegiate sailing

Aidan and Aysun in Marina del Rey
Aidan and Aysun racing in Marina del Rey.

In 2008, the sailing team competed in their first intercollegiate regatta on Feb. 9 and 10, 2008 hosted by UCLA in Marina del Ray. In the fall, the club competed in the Frosh/Soph Regatta in San Diego on October 18 and 19 and the North/South PCCSC Fall Championship in Santa Barbara on November 15 and 16.

The sailing club was upgraded to provisional membership in the PCCSC in 2009. In the spring, the team competed in the PCCSC South Point Series with regattas in San Diego, Santa Barbara and Long Beach. The fall semester brought more competitions with the Frosh/Soph Regatta in San Diego and the PCCSC Fall Dinghy Championship in Santa Barbara.

ASU sailing in 2009 North/South regatta in Santa Barbara
ASU sailing in 2009 North/South regatta in Santa Barbara.

In transition

In March, the ASU Sailing Club gained three US SAILING certified instructors, Gerald Byrnes, Steve Swanson and Red Ng who volunteer their time to coach the team. In May 2009, the club president Jake Geller graduated and Gerald Byrnes took over his duties as president. Geller is now the head coach of the club.

In 2010, the ASU Sailing Club was upgraded to a regular member of the PCCSC and competed in the PCCSC South Point Series with regattas in San Diego and Long Beach.

Overcoming adversity

Spencer and Steve in Frosh/Soph 2010.
Spencer and Steve sailing in Frosh/Soph 2010.

On July 20, one of the dams of Tempe Town Lake breached which left the club without its regular practice venue for the first three months of the semester and the club made due with McKelllips Lake in Scottsdale. At this time, the club had the good fortune of bringing former America’s Cup contender Phillip Freedman on board to help coach the team as the volunteer racing coach. We also had the addition of two freshmen, Spenser Branch and Maggie Blumm who were also US SAILING certified instructors.

Despite not having Tempe Town Lake to practice in, the team competed in the Frosh/Soph Regatta on Oct. 23 and 24 in San Diego and the varsity sailors placed fourth overall with three first-place finishes. The following month the club competed in the PCCSC Dinghy Pacific Coast Championships hosted by the University of California, Santa Barbara on Nov. 14 and 15.

You can click on these links for more info about the team, or about our coaches.

In addition to our racing team, we offer a beginning sailing class and an award winning adaptive sailing program.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us.

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