Club sailing season underway

GVL / Courtesy - GVSU Club Sailing
Nichole Kievit and Kate Lynne Cavataio at the 2016 Fall Fury Regatta hosted by the Wisconsin Sailing Team.

GVSU Club Sailing

GVL / Courtesy – GVSU Club Sailing Nichole Kievit and Kate Lynne Cavataio at the 2016 Fall Fury Regatta hosted by the Wisconsin Sailing Team.

Natalie Longroy

This past weekend, the Grand Valley State club sailing team went to the University of Wisconsin to compete in the 2016 Fall Fury Regatta.

GVSU club sailing has an A and a B team. The A team is for a more experienced crew while the B team is for new members that have little to no experience but are eager to learn.

Over the weekend, GVSU took third in the A division and eighth overall. The B fleet took 12th place.

“Fall Fury was an important regatta to kick off the season and also to compete at an inter-conference regatta, which means increased competition of teams we would not normally have the opportunity to sail against,” said club chair Gary Micu.

Some teams that participated over the weekend include the University of Iowa, University of Minnesota and the University of Illinois, among many others.

“Being our first regatta of the season sometimes it can be rough getting back into things with practices just starting for the year, but we work together in our skipper crew pairings and analyze what to change and how to quickly improve, to get back to sailing as the strong team we can be,” said club member Nichole Kievit.

The GVSU club sailing team is open to both male and female members of all experiences. There is a place for anyone on the team as there is a non-completive or competitive membership. However, only competitive members can compete in regattas.

“There are a lot of new members this year, which is great,” Nicholas Smart said. “I would say we are a very energetic team and we are all eager to contribute to the team’s success.”

New members mean all different experience levels.

“We have new members who will have a learning curve about the sport, so that is always an exciting challenge to help bring younger sailors on the team up to their full potential,” Micu said. “It’s great to see them break through milestones that they never thought they would even try, let alone master in the sport.”

With not only new members at the start of the semester, the sailing team has a new coach with the team this season.

Head coach Cappy Capper founded and served as president of the Midwest High School Sailing Association, vice president of the Interscholastic Sailing Association of North America, and coached several high school, college and youth racing teams to national championship regattas.

“Now, having a coach, we can all grow and improve but our coach has to find ways to teach everyone at all our different levels of understanding,” Kievit said. “We have an overwhelming number of potential new members and a coach that can help us all reach new heights.”

The team sails at the Lake Macatawa Yacht Club near Holland, Michigan. The team practices and races on boats called 420’s, which are mid-sized, two-person crew racing dinghies. They also race on FJ’s, Sloops, Lasers, T-10s and other watercraft depending on the regatta.

The Great Lakes Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta (GLIOR) is in Chicago Sept. 24-25. The regatta will be held at Colombia Yacht Club. The team will be racing on a T-10, a 33-foot boat that requires at least six crew members.

Other future competitions include Laker Showdown/Emma Biagioni Regatta in Macatawa, the Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta in Larchmont, New York and others.

The club was most recently founded in 2013; GVSU had a team from the late 1980s to 2003 but was disbanded for a time.

“The team is young for a club sport and there are constantly new things we are improving on,” Micu said. “One main goal for this year is our golf outing. It is Sept. 17, during Family Weekend, and we hope that it will be a great event for golfing and outreach to the GVSU extended community.”

A sense of community and camaraderie is what the team is trying to build, but for Kievit, it’s more.

“Sailing to me is an escape,” she said. “I can go out on the water and focus on something other than classes and everyday stresses. The water and sailing on calm days allows me to relax and take in the beauty.”