One frigid January night in 2011, a small but dedicated group of parents of competitive sailors gathered to discuss establishing a co-ed sailing team for high school students of Spring Lake High School. Six months later they had created a nonprofit club sport to provide this opportunity to students, complete with a newly acquired fleet of sailboats.
Today we are one of the top-ranked high school sailing teams in the Midwest and typically have 20-24 sailors on the team, making our program one of the largest single-school sailing programs in the country. Way to go!
Spring Lake Sailing Team offers high school students the opportunity to learn to sail and race 420 class sailboats – the same type of boats that are raced in colleges and universities. Novice sailors learn how a boat works, principles of water safety, and how to sail while advanced sailors help teach their teammates and learn advanced racing rules, strategies, and tactics. The team offers teens the chance to compete against high school sailing teams from throughout the Midwest and the opportunity to race in national events. Most of our graduates continue to sail in college and all of them tell us that their experience on our team was a wonderful foundation to prepare them for the transition to college both on and off the water.
Who can participate?
Spring Lake students grades 8-12 who want to race sailboats qualify to participate on the team. While not required, some level of prior sailing experience is preferred and incoming students are highly encouraged to participate in summer 420 camps through the Spring Lake Junior Sailing Association (Click Here). Students do not need a boat to participate. Sailors use boats owned by the team.
Please note: this does not mean that participation is guaranteed to all. Interested students should complete an application before the season starts. We will try to accommodate demand according to capacity and resources and reserve the right to make cuts.
How much does it cost?
The fall season registration fee is $210 per sailor. A pinnie will also need to be purchased once for $40 and is the sailors to keep. The spring season registration fee is $160. Prior sailing experience is required to participate in the spring season so most sailors have a pinnie but if a pinnie is required they cost $40 in the springtime too.
We are organized and run by volunteers. The registration fee goes toward ISSA/MISSA dues, maintenance of our sailboats and power boats, boat fuel, rental of yacht club, insurance, coach expenses, and other miscellaneous expenses. It is important to note that the program runs at a deficit and registration fees do not cover our expenses. Additional fundraising is necessary to fully underwrite the team.
Sailors pay individual regatta entry fees per event that they attend. These fees range from $25-$60 per sailor, per regatta on average. The entire team does not go to every regatta. Sailors who take it seriously and excel participate in several each season, more casual sailors participate in 1-3.
Sailors are responsible for their own life jacket and weather gear. Drysuits are mandatory at many regattas and we require sailors to wear them at practice in cool weather. Life jackets cost about $75 for a nice one and drysuits run about $500-$600. If you can find a used one, jump on it. They can be found on CraigsList from time to time. So far, all of our graduating sailors go on to sail in college so we have not had any with drysuits for sale within our team but if that ever happens the team may begin purchasing them so we can have used suits available to rent to incoming sailors.
Practice takes place on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3 – 6 pm at Spring Lake Yacht Club, 17500 West Spring Lake Road, Spring Lake, Michigan.
Why high school sailing?
Like other high school team sports, team sailing equips students with skills that carry over into all other facets of their lives… Teamwork, Leadership, Sportsmanship. It is the mission of the Spring Lake Sailing Team to attract students who may not otherwise be involved in team activities in our local community and to educate and encourage them to develop a life-long interest in the sport of sailing.
High School Sailing is organized by the Interscholastic Sailing Association (ISSA) and we operate within the Midwest District (MISSA). More information can be found at missa.hssailing.org
Hopefully this interest will lead to future opportunities and an interest in sailing at the collegiate level. More information on collegiate sailing can be seen at www.collegesailing.org
501c3 Board of Directors
Jeff Peterson, President
Scott Navarre, Treasurer
Steve Airo, Equipment Manager
Mark Colvin, Regatta Coordinator
(seeking), Fundraising Chair
David Wolters, Sailing Director
Libby Reeg & JP Del Solar, Coaches
Jennifer Colvin, Volunteer Coordinator
Julie DeBlanc, Apparel Coordinator
SLHS Teacher Liaison
Lauren Thompson, Chemistry