North Texas Daily

Sailing club finds its solace on the waves

Sailing club finds its solace on the waves

Sailing club finds its solace on the waves
January 23
09:34 2014

Jordan Ottaway // Intern

Feeling the wind hit your face, hearing the sounds of the water and being out just for the love of the sport is only the beginning of what UNT’s Sailing Club is all about.

“The sailing team entails joining and having a love for being on the water and getting a rush every time you sail,” Eileen Blute, club president and speech pathology sophomore, said.

Competitions, or regattas, can involve match races between two boats or fleet races with as many as eight boats. Regattas take place at lakes, with the closest being Lake Lewisville.

Not well-known by the student population, the club has about 40 members with 15 to 20 that show up consistently to practices and weekly Tuesday meetings.

The club usually spreads the word by handing out flyers at campus events such as the Mean Green fling. Usually at the start of the spring semester, the club will put one of its J24 model sailboats on display in the Library Mall and hand out flyers.

“It’s always a big hit, because no one is expecting to see a giant boat parked in the middle of campus,” Blute said. “It certainly gets a lot of attention.”

The skills of members range from someone who is just starting to learn to someone like Blute, who has a passion for the sport. The most common line the members hear is “I don’t know how to sail,” to which they say it’s nothing to worry about, as there are no expert level expectations from new members.

“One of my favorite things about being on the team is when I take a new person out, and seeing the pure ecstasy on his or her face when they realize how much of a blast sailing is,” Blute said.

International studies junior Andrew Austin joined the club last semester and said he has learned a lot from his teammates.

“They are very knowledgeable,” Austin said. “They [veteran members] will teach you the basics before you even go out on the water.”

The club competes year-round, but due to low funding, the number of competitions it can attend is limited. With travel expenses, entry fees and boat upkeep, funding is crucial.

“I always try to get more people to come out each semester,” Austin said. “The more people that come out, the more funding we get.”

Members of the Mean Green sailing team Elizabeth Perryman, Mary Bielamowicz and Eileen Blute at Mean Green fling to recruit new members for the Mean Green sailing team.  Photo Courtesy of Mary Bielamowicz

Members of the Mean Green sailing team Elizabeth Perryman, Mary Bielamowicz and Eileen Blute at Mean Green fling to recruit new members for the Mean Green sailing team.
Photo Courtesy of Mary Bielamowicz

However, that doesn’t stop the club from getting on the water. Practices are three times a week and take place at the Dallas Corinthian Yacht Club in Oak Point.

“If there is wind, we are usually out on the water,” Blute said. “It is always good after a hard day of tests or studying to go out on the water and not worry about anything but sailing with people who share the same passion for sailing that you do.”

Practices can range from just learning the basics and safety drills all the way to advanced racing strategies, depend on the skills of the members attending. Those who are dedicated to practice are usually the ones who are picked to compete.

“It’s all about tactics and skill when you’re in a race,” business sophomore Conner Sims said. “You have to go to practice a lot to realize all the rules and how to sail correctly.”

Competition, or a regatta, can be quite intense as UNT faces some big name school like Texas A&M University, Baylor University, Oklahoma State University and Louisiana State University. These school have a bigger budget and an actual coaching staff, but UNT has stuck in there and competed.

“There are all sorts levels of competition,” Blute said. “Intense, fun, wild and a little challenging at times, but never boring.”

Practice and competition have developed a sense of camaraderie among the members.

“When you’re on a boat with someone for two to three hours three times a week, you get pretty tight-knit,” Austin said.

Though regattas are still taking place, the club plans to race again in late March when the weather is warm. The club embraces competition against any team, but being out on the water is what makes it satisfying for the members.

“At the end of the day, it is all worth it to get to sail,” Blute said.

Feature photo: Eileen Blute was elected the president of the Mean Green sailing team in August. Photo courtesy of Mean Green sailing team Facebook page

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