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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The UMB Sailing Club

Photo courtesy of UMB Sailing Club
Photo courtesy of UMB Sailing Club

As you are driving along University Drive towards the Campus Center, you will see the Fox Point Pavilion on your right. Below it you will find the dock where the Sailing Program operates. Try going there on a Tuesday or Friday afternoon and you might find the Sailing Club getting ready to set sail.

The UMass Boston Sailing Club was founded in 1960 at the Park Square Campus, when the university was called Boston State. The club held regular meetings and events, and participated in intercollegiate regattas at its host site, Community Boating, on the Charles River. In 1974 the Harbor Campus was opened and the school name became UMass Boston. The club continued to operate, now supported by its own water front site and a recreational teaching and learning program. Because UMass Boston is a commuter college and sailing is outside the realm of mainstream sports activities, the sailing club has had its share of active and inactive seasons. Yet is has always provided an opportunity to those who otherwise would not have the chance to sail.

In the spring of 2005, after years of low activity, Chris Campbell and Jake Tavakoli, both English majors, approached Jason LeBlanc, Sailing Program Manager, and asked for help to activate the Sailing Club, as well as ideas on how they could utilize the Sailing Program’s equipment to attract members. Campbell then became president of the club, Ed Lok vice-president and Tavakoli treasurer.

In September 2005, Marine Operations sponsored the club in the First Annual Boston Harbor Islands Regatta. They raced a J22 boat that had been loaned to them by community partner Courageous Sailing Center, which gave them the opportunity to explore the outer Islands and meet other sailors. With LeBlanc’s help, students organized a fun race series, and were able to introduce people to the club and the program. The series was held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and was successful. The list increased with an average turnout of sixteen members for each race.

Over the winter months LeBlanc worked with the club to develop their skills through a regular, one-hour lecture series, twice a week, to prepare for the Intercollegiate Regattas in the spring. In February of this year Jake Tavakoli, Ed Lok, Mike Magni, Chris Campbell and Alex Burchevski went to the New England Intercollegiate Sailing Association (NEISA) meeting in Rhode Island at Providence College, where they were voted in as full members of NEISA. This change granted them full voting privileges within NEISA, and they now have a say in how their sport is governed. They also managed to get information on what to do in competition against other teams, which among others include Brown, Tufts, Yale, and Harvard.

During the spring semester the club was granted additional funding from the Student Senate for safety gear, so that they would be able to participate in events safely during the spring and fall weather. In March of 2006 they started practicing on the water using borrowed C420’s from another community partner, Boston College High School. The C420’s are a more high performance sailboat used by the Interscholastic and Intercollegiate Sailing Associations for racing. The club also enlisted the help of North Quincy High assistant coach Erin Clancy.

In April 2006 the club raced in their first regatta of the season at Williams College, where they finished 5 out of 6 in both A and B divisions for the day in a total of 8 races. The next day they raced at Providence College, finishing 5 out of 6 once again. “The noises and feelings you get as you are on the line with a group of boats just waiting for the final ten seconds to pass before the race starts is unbelievable. During our club season we try to hold several fun races each week so that our members can get a taste of just this” said Tavakoli.

The following weekend they raced on their home waters of Dorchester Bay in the Metro Series at Boston College where they finished 8 out of 8 for the day. “The regattas were an eye opening experience for me because they shook my view of sailing. Here in the club, we’re still beginners compared to these kids who have been sailing all of their lives” said Campbell. That Sunday they raced in a no ringer regatta at MIT, and had the opportunity to review their mistakes from the past three races and fix them, as well as learn new skills. “The club had a great showing at each race and did an awesome job; they had some great third and fourth place finishes and did great for beginners, not only to sailing but to racing as well, their sportsmanship and competitive sprit was exemplary” LeBlanc said.

It is their sportsmanship and competitive spirit what will drive this young club to keep growing and practicing. The sailing season in New England is just getting started. This spring, summer and fall the club will be making several day trips to the Harbor Islands and the Sailing Program will be hosting the Fun Race Series once again, giving students, staff, and community members a chance to experience the competitive side of sailing. The Sailing Program offers free lessons to all UMB students and to all staff and community members at a nominal fee.

The club will be racing in intercollegiate competitions again in the fall, and building upon their success of the spring. “In September they will be entering the Boston Harbor Islands Regatta, once again giving them the opportunity to experience big boat racing and getting the UMB name out there in the world of sailing, where it belongs” said LeBlanc.

The officers’ expectations for the club in the future, are to see the sailing team gain rank on the national and regional intercollegiate racing circuits, to improve the club’s membership, and to make the club more recognized throughout campus. “My vision for the future of the club is that victory will be at hand soon. This could happen with the growth of more devoted members who will learn further about the sport of sailing, and eventually, as a team effort, we might even take home a nice title,” said Lok, the vice-president of the club. The waters of the Dorchester Bay will be witness of the fulfillment of their expectations as they keep striving to improve as a team and as a club.