Winds and a pandemic may be out of our control, but you can command your ship with the 5C Sailing Club as they find their way back to sea after taking a hit from their time away from campus.
The once well established 5C Sailing Club lost its way during the pandemic, and a temporary dissolution almost led to permanent disbandment. Luckily for them, with the help of a few local yacht clubs, the 5C Sailing Club was thrown a lifeline. Today, the executive board and members of the 5C Sailing Club look to regrow the club and restore it to its pre-pandemic days while bringing the love of sailing back to the Claremont Colleges.
Reese Ger SC ’24 did not get the opportunity to pick up sailing until high school. With various barriers to entry, Ger said that her high school program offered an amazing opportunity to participate in what is considered a traditionally exclusive sport. Having discovered a newfound love for sailing, Ger said she was excited to find that there was a 5C Sailing Club that could provide her with the opportunity to continue exploring her passion.
Ger came to find, however, that the club had no real leadership or existing members. In hopes of bringing the club back to life, she decided to take over as president.
“During COVID, the club had unfortunately died out, and we lost contact with former contacts which meant that we had to completely start from scratch,” Ger said.
Fellow Sailing Club member, Dominic Dulac PO ’24 emphasized that getting the club up and running after time off proved to be a challenge.
“In the fall of 2021 we were just trying to get our feet on the ground after the pandemic. The club had been sort of defunct at the time, and we were trying to figure out how to get people back on boats,” Dulac said. “This was really hard considering that we hadn’t built relationships with anyone in the area.”
With the help of current vice president, Kate Graham SC ’24, Ger began the rebuilding process, reaching out to former contacts, forming new relationships, participating in club fairs and spreading awareness of the club through word of mouth.
Thanks to these efforts, the club has since amassed roughly 250 students on its email list and is currently in partnership with two yacht clubs: Los Angeles Yacht Club (LAYC) and Laserfiche. Both LAYC and Laserfiche provide access to boats, life jackets and safety equipment at no cost.
Despite the success, Graham acknowledges that the club is still in its infancy as it continues to recover from the impacts of the pandemic. As vice president of the club, Graham stated that she hopes the club will continue to grow as they look to establish more partnerships with other local yacht clubs and add more events on their calendar.
“I became a vice president because I wanted to be able to take other students on more fun adventures and make [Sailing Club] a more prominent club on campus,” Graham said.
Grateful for the club’s partnerships with LAYC and Laserfiche, Ger said that her goal is to set up the framework for people to participate in the sport without having any barriers impede their access.
“A lot of people haven’t had access to the sport, so I want to be able to set up that infrastructure to let anybody try it who wants to,” Ger said.
Dulac stated that he believes the main mission of the club is to provide opportunities for both new and experienced sailors.
“Sailing is a really cool topic, and it’s the sort of thing that catches people’s eyes. Our job as the sailing club is to organize opportunities for people to get on boats and get on the water and have fun,” Dulac said.
In addition to wanting to provide opportunities and make sailing more accessible among the 5Cs, Graham said that she hopes to continue to grow the club while creating fun and memorable experiences for members.
“It’s really leisurely, and it’s supposed to be a fun environment for people to just get out on the water … right now we’re just a leisurely fun club” Graham said.
The club aims to host three trips to Puddingstone Reservoir and Long Beach throughout each semester. During these day trips, first-time sailors get the opportunity to work with experienced sailors and gain exposure to the art of sailing.
Both Ger and Graham said that they are hoping to recruit new members and encourage anyone who is interested in sailing to reach out either through email or Engage. In addition to the three trips during the fall semester, the club has three planned events for this semester, one of which includes a spring break trip to Catalina Island.
“Whether you’re a new sailor or someone who’s grown up with it, we want to provide an opportunity for people to get out on the water,” Ger said.