Insider: Sailing with the UNF Sailing Club

Joslyn Simmons

Video by Jack Drain and Joslyn Simmons

A common passion for being on the water brings the UNF sailing club together where they practice twice a week at the Epping Forest Yacht Club.

For these students, controlling a sailboat is a skill which allows them to compete against other schools like the University of Florida in regattas.  

In the two-man boat, both have responsibilities while sailing. The skipper sits on the back of the boat holding the tiller and gives instructions to the crew, especially when it comes time to switch sides of the boat. The crew member helps with the ropes, and listens to the skipper’s directions.

Ian Stern working on the boat before heading in the water. Photo by Joslyn Simmons
Ian Stern working on the boat before heading in the water. Photo by Joslyn Simmons

The wind plays a role in how fast the boat can travel and knowing how to read the wind is crucial.  

Ian Stern, a senior sociology major with a spanish minor, is the treasurer of the club.

“I think people are really interested in being able to race against other schools in the state and in the region,” Stern said.

The sailing club has been under the radar for several years before being revamped in Fall 2015. Unlike previous years, membership has increased for the club, with the majority being upperclassmen.

One of the goal was to create a team for the campus.

“We usually have about six to eight people come out for practice,” Stern said. “That number varies, but we usually send four to a regatta. We are hoping to get that number up to six to eight next semester.”

For the overall club, the numbers increased to around 10 to 15 people.

At the beginning, the club practiced across town at Jacksonville University before moving to the yacht club in the spring.

“A lot of people don’t really know there is a sailing club or team at UNF and are really interested in learning how to sail,” Stern said. “And we also are trying to reach out to experienced sailors, people who having experience skippering.”

Practicing on the water. Photo by Joslyn Simmons
Practicing on the water. Photo by Joslyn Simmons

The range of experiences varied from each active member with some having years to other a few hours.

Dani Valdes-Pages, president of the sailing club, is one of the most experienced. The sophomore physics major has been sailing her entire life. Her fellow members had high praise for Valdes- Pages.

“She is really, really able to read the wind and the shifts. She is always right up on the line at the start. She is incredibly talented for sure,” Stern said.

The student-ran club is different from their competition. Unlike traditional teams, there is no true coach to teach them the way, nor do they have their own fleets of boats. Their boats are provided by the yacht club while they practice. An employee of the yacht club rides a powerboat while they practice to makes sure they stay safe in the moving water.

This doesn’t stop the club from participating against those very teams.

In their first regatta in St.Petersburg, the club finished in last place but that didn’t deter the members from continuing in more regattas.

A final goal of the club is to be a full member of South Atlantic Intercollegiate Sailing Association, where they have opportunities to race even more schools and make a name for themselves.

Boat before being rigged with a sail. Photo by Joslyn Simmons
Boat before being rigged with a sail.
Photo by Joslyn Simmons

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