Iowa sailing club making waves

BY CODY GREDELL | JULY 05, 2011 7:20 AM

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Groups of amateur sailors dragged their vessels into the green water of Lake Macbride on a mild summer afternoon.

While some attempted to balance themselves on their boards for windsurfing, others worked to raise the sails on their boats in hopes of a fun-filled day sailing with the University of Iowa Sailing Club.

The sailing club has been in operation since the mid-1960s, and it maintains a fleet of more than 45 boats that are usually sailed by one to three people. The club’s boathouse is located roughly one mile into Lake Macbride State Park, around 10 miles outside of Iowa City. Club members come from all around the United States as well as from many different countries from around the world.

The club meets on Saturday for racing and on Sunday for lessons that include the basic principles of sailing, rigging and de-rigging boats, and proper procedures for when out on the water. Once members get enough experience on the water, they can take the boats and windsurfing boards out on the lake any day during the week.

Bill Budelier, the membership officer and a skipper for the club, said he would like to tackle the misconception that sailing is not a popular sport while introducing the idea that anyone can do take a boat out on the water.

“I think sailing is a pretty traditional sport,” he said. “It’s a sport that almost anyone can do. It’s really not that expensive. Most sailboats are cheaper than most motorboats these days, so it’s not very expensive — especially in a club situation.”

Budelier says used sailboats can run about the same price as a new canoe or possibly even cheaper.
The amount of sailing experience varies widely in the club. Some members have been sailing just since the beginning of the summer, but others, such as Greg White, have sailed for more than 30 years.

White, a Cedar Rapids native who has sailed in waters around the world, said he especially enjoyed boating in the Caribbean.

“It’s good, clean fun,” he said.

The reasons for joining the club vary, and some members said they didn’t even know sailing was even available in a landlocked state such as Iowa.

“I had no idea that I could actually do sailing in Iowa,” Denise Stejskal, a two-year member said. “I had an interest in sailing.”

Other members come from such places as New Zealand, where sailing has a much larger following than it does in the United States.

The sailing season starts in April and lasts until November. Club membership cost $25 for students for both the summer and fall sessions, $50 for a yearly membership.

“It’s a great value,” White said. “Students can sail all kinds of boats and get great lessons.”

With the fall semester on the horizon, the club hopes to see more students and people in the community get involved with sailing.

“Sailing is a good enjoyable, environmentally friendly recreation,” Budelier said. “It’s an enjoyable skill that I’d like to see others pick up, too.”

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