By Jenna Burns
What did you do this weekend? Did it involve speeding over the crystal blue ocean in a sailboat while the Hawaiian sun shone down over Hilo Bay? I experienced this very thing when I went out with the Sailing Club at UH Hilo this weekend, a group designed with one purpose in mind: to impart the joy of sailing to others.
The Sailing Club meets every week on Saturday at 11:00 am at Hilo Bay. There are several boats available for use and instructors ready to teach even the most extreme beginner how to rig up the boat and get it out on the water. The Sailing Club leaders, Julia and Sam, both have lots of experience sailing. Julia sailed in college, and Sam raced in Hong Kong. The initial goal of the club is teaching people how to sail, eventually working up to racing. The sailboats that the group uses are small 14-footers called “flying juniors” that can fit two or three people. Because of the boats’ small size, each person who participates in the club will have the opportunity to sail.
I just had to try my hand at sailing. I suited up in my life jacket, hat, and sunglasses and started rigging up the boat with Ben, our instructor. When we got the boat in the water and jumped in, I was pretty nervous. The boat rocked all over the place, almost tipping over. But soon, I discovered it was pretty easy to balance by distributing the weight evenly across the boat and moving the sails in order to catch a breeze.
The next thing I knew, I was zooming over the water at about 4 knots. I put my hand into the water and let it trail, reveling in the fact that I was sailing a boat! The instructor Ben had lots of helpful things to say about the mechanics of sailing. He told me how to fill up the sails with air by changing the position of the boom. It involved pulling on lots of different ropes.
Emily Schneider, a junior and a Biology/English double major from Alaska, described the experience by saying, “I’ve always wanted to learn how to sail and this is a cool opportunity.” She seemed to be pretty excited to be spending her weekend sailing.
Eric Sanders, a Pharmacy major at UH Hilo and a generally cool guy, found the experience to be positive as well, saying, “This is the most extreme action that I can find on a Saturday in Hilo!”
I can honestly say that sailing was an experience that I will remember forever, and something I could definitely see myself participating in the future. Because the club meets every weekend, I now have the rare opportunity to learn how to sail proficiently and possibly participate in a race in the future! The club membership fee is only $15.
If you are interested in participating in the club, email Julia at firstname.lastname@example.org or just show up on Sat. at 10:30 outside the bookstore to get a free ride to the bay. Make sure to bring sunscreen and water, and be prepared to get wet!