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[Ann Arbor News masthead]

Club fills sails of boating fans

Local enthusiasts learn ropes or enhance skills

By Khalil E. Hachem

News Staff Reporter

Michael Sinclair dabbled in sailing when he was a little boy but hadn't tried it in years.

On Saturday, the 60-year-old New Zealand native stood on the shores of Baseline Lake north of Dexter eagerly awaiting his turn to rig a small boat and confront the wind.

"I would like to get going," said Sinclair, who teaches law in New York City and lives with his wife in Ann Arbor. His wife paid for his sailing lessons as a birthday gift.

[Boats on shore]
Photos by Leisa Thompson, The Ann Arbor News
Jim Rennell of Dexter, above, gets his sailboat ready for action Saturday on Baseline Lake at the University of Michigan Sailing Club near Dexter. Rennell, who has been with the club for 14 years, said "I'm just hooked on sailing and I love doing it."
[Boats on the water] Left, many new sailors were ready and waiting for their chance on the water as the sailing club offered lessons Saturday. The club offers instructions every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to beginners, and a place to sail for experienced sailors the rest of the week.

Sinclair and more than 20 sailing enthusiasts milled around Saturday at the University of Michigan Sailing Club, waiting for the rain to subside to start sailing and windsurfing lessons. The club, at 8010 Strawberry Lake Road, offers instruction every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to beginners, and a place to sail for experienced sailors the rest of the week, said Kevin Bosley, commodore at the club for 15 years. Sundays are reserved for tournaments, he said.

"It's a place for everybody," Bosley said. "Whether you are a sailor or have never seen a boat, you are welcome."

The sailing club was founded in 1938 by U-M naval architecture students, who raised enough money to put a down payment on two small sailing boats. Now, the club offers six windsurfing boards and 22 sailboats, ranging from a one-person boat to one that holds six people. Equipment is available on a first come-first-served basis, Bosley said.

Members vary in age from 8 to 80 years old, and differ in skills, Bosley said. Although some members have won national championships, most of them work with beginners to enhance their skills, he said.

Membership numbers vary from season to season with about 197 people currently enlisted, but Bosley expects that number to grow to about 350 by the end of the season. The club accepts anyone interested in sailing or learning to sail, with or without a university affiliation, he said.

Before being able to use club boats, members must demonstrate efficiency in sailing fundamentals, such as tacking (turning the boat into the wind), hiking (leaning to counteract a tilt) and docking. Hannah Melia and her husband, Tobias Berger, of Ann Arbor are still novice sailors with four lessons under their belts.

"It is a little bit technical but exciting," said Melia. "Even if you tip over, it is still exciting."

Jinky Hernandez agreed.

"Capsizing is part of the fun," said Hernandez, a dental student in Ann Arbor. She stood on the dock Saturday after her boat turned over, promising to stay out of the water next week. "I will try again."


©2003 The Ann Arbor News