By Artoor Minas
From atop the Stevenson knoll, students can relax on a sunny day and enjoy a breathtaking view of Monterey Bay sprinkled with sailboats. Among the sailors is the UC Santa Cruz Sailing team.
The often-overlooked sailing team is a group of ten students who coach themselves. Though they lack the finances to pay a coach’s salary, the team does not mind being on their own.
“The team doesn’t want a coach,” freshman sailor Mickail Murawski said. “We’ve all grown up sailing. We view a student-organized [team] as better.”
When thinking of water-related activities in Santa Cruz, people tend to think of surfing first, but sailing is not far behind.
It is an activity with many misconceptions, and the stereotypes do not recognize the highly competitive aspects of the sport.
“It’s funny how people only see sailing as a leisure sport,” freshman Heather Miller said. “People don’t know or understand how competitive sailing can get.”
However, the UCSC squad attempts to maintain a more relaxed mentality than that of their opponents, who are heavily funded and taught by highly experienced coaches.
“We just love to have a good time when we sail,” Miller said. “We try not to allow competition to get in the way of us having fun and doing what we do.”
The team, which allows anybody to join, is a member of a nationwide system of collegiate sailors known as the Pacific Coast Collegiate Sailing Conference (PCCSC).
Although sailing has been a competitive sport around the nation since the 1970s, the limited funds at UCSC restrict competition to local universities such as Berkeley, Stanford and Cal State Monterey Bay.
“We only receive a little bit of cash from the university,” said senior Reed Vandershaaf, the team’s captain. “This makes certain things limited for us, like not having a vehicle to get around to different locations to sail. I have been using my own [Ford] Explorer to facilitate that.”
A typical regatta consists of a racecourse in which buoys are placed in a certain order for sailors to maneuver around.
“I have much respect to the great sailors out there,” Murawski said. “The competitive aspect is not easy. On the water, boats are always moving and it’s not easy to just stop or adjust.”
Many sailors would agree that there is something rewarding about looking at the coast from the water instead of watching the bay from the sandy beach.
“Using natural power (wind) as energy is something special,” Murawski said. “There is a natural bonding with your surroundings. We always respect our surroundings.”
The sailing team has become a tightly knit group. They look for new sailors, not to become more competitive, but to spread their love of sailing.
“Sailing gives me something to do outside of the stress of school,” Miller said. “It allows me to unwind and self-reflect.”