The waters of Lake Whatcom are all but bare during the winter season, except for a select group of people who weekly board sailboats and enjoy a few hours on the open water.
The stillness of the lake shatters, and shouts can be heard over harsh gusts of wind. Two sailors control each boat and stay in constant communication to navigate the waves.
Western’s sailing team not only provides its members with an opportunity to participate in the sport they love, but also to create friendships on and off the water.
Western junior Taylor Martin is one of the team’s captains and was introduced to the sport by his grandfather. Martin grew up on a lake in Fort Collins, Colo. and began sailing after his grandfather gave him his first boat. The sense of community in sailing is one of Martin’s favorite aspects of the sport, he said.
“One of the things I really love is going from port to port, and the second you pull in you have this community of people already there who love to sail,” Martin said. “You have something in common with half a dozen people when you show up. It’s a really nice feeling.”
Western sophomore Gabe Hill has been a member of Western’s sailing team for two years, and said while sailing consists of a great deal of attention to technicalities, the relationship between sailors is extremely important.
Sailing consists of two people managing one boat. Rotation of sailing partners occurs frequently so everyone can learn from each other. Usually, the same two people sail together to become comfortable working with their partner, Hill said.
“You’re trying to work with that person as well as possible, and if it doesn’t click between the two of you, it doesn’t really matter if you understand the technical aspects,” Hill said.
Western’s sailing team practices and competes throughout the school year. During summer break, the majority of the team members continue sailing on their own, Martin said.
During the winter, the team practices every Tuesday and Thursday, regardless of the weather. Once spring quarter begins, the team will practice Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
No prior sailing experience is required to join the sailing team. Western’s sailors will participate in Stanford University’s McIntyre Team Race on Saturday, March 1, and Sunday, March 2, in San Francisco, Calif. The team will be back at it the following weekend in the Orcas Island Team Race on Saturday March 8, and Sunday, March 9, at Orcas Island, Wash. Students interested in joining Western’s sailing team can find more information by visiting wwusailing.com.