Get ready to set sail!

The Portland State Sailing Club is a recreation club that provides students an opportunity to both sail for fun and compete in various competitive regional and inter-collegiate sailing events.     

The Portland State Sailing Club is a recreation club that provides students an opportunity to both sail for fun and compete in various competitive regional and inter-collegiate sailing events.      

 Founded in 1987 by Toni Norris, the club has about 15 active members. They include sophomore captain Leila Whitney, as well as co-commodores and business finance majors John Hart and Mitchell McLean.

 ”We travel all around Washington and Oregon and make the occasional trip to Canada and California for competitions pretty much every weekend, all year round,” said sophomore media officer, song leader and moral officer Aldyn Brudie. “We mostly compete against other schools in the Northwest Intercollegiate Sailing Association district, like Oregon, British Columbia, Washington, etc, but sometimes we go to inter-sectionals and compete against schools from California, Hawaii, the mid-west and the east coast.”

 The team practices on the Willamette River during fall and spring. The fall season goes from September to November, while the spring season starts in February and ends in May. Throughout the year, the team competes in various competitions, almost every weekend.

 With many seniors graduating, the sailing club was in a rebuilding phase in 2009. Brudie, who joined the club then, said, “It is so amazing because we travel nearly every weekend to compete for relatively little money and get to sail at so many incredible venues, like the San Francisco Bay, Bellingham Bay and Victoria, B.C.”

 Brudie fondly recalls one of her favorite moments.    

 ”Sailing in the San Francisco Bay was one of the most incredible experiences,” Brudie said. “Right in front of the Golden Gate Bridge with the waves pounding our boats and the wind howling.”

 McLean, who joined the club in the fall of 2010, recalls his favorite race as the first one he attended as a sailor with the club.

 ”It was a junior varsity event only for freshman and sophomore students and I was able to place fairly high, getting two firsts,” McLean said. “I can remember the moment quite clearly when I knew sailing was for me. Portland State has a competitive racing team and I’m proud to be a part of it.”

 In 2009, the club formed a competitive women’s sailing team. The women’s team placed third in the regional qualifiers in 2010 and went one better in 2011, finishing second this year. The PSU team almost caught up with leader Western Washington, trailing by just three points during one stretch. This performance earned the women’s team a spot in the national semi-finals.  

“We will be competing in the Gorge at Cascade Locks on May 23–24 against the best women’s teams in the country,” Brudie said.

 On the other hand, the co-ed team captured first and second place in the Frosh/Soph junior varsity event in Bellingham, Wash., in 2010. This year, the team has only a couple of regattas left: a team qualifier and the end of the year PSU Gorge Invite Regatta, which will be held here at PSU. This will be an alumni event, which means that former college sailors will get the chance to come back and compete.

 “The club owns two six-flying junior boats andthree laser boats,” said club captain Leila Whitney, who joined the club in fall 2009.

A flying junior boat is a 12-foot long, two-person sailing boat. It has two sails: a main and a jet. The skippers man the main while the crew handles the jet. The laser boat is for individual sailing and has only one sail.  The club also takes the safety of its members very seriously.

“Everyone is required to wear life jackets at all times while in a boat,” Brudie said. “Wetsuits are optional for the most part, but when we go to places such as Canada and Bellingham in the middle of February, they are definitely mandatory. No hypothermia allowed!”

 The team practices weekly on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 3 p.m. until sundown at the Willamette Sailing Club on SW

Beaver Avenue. The club will be participating in the PSU Invite Regatta on May 14–15, although due to Intercollegiate Sailing Association’s restrictions, only full-time undergraduate students are eligible to compete in regattas.

However, all students are encouraged to participate in the club. To sign up for this club, students need fill out the necessary forms available on the club’s website at The club fee is $100 per term.

“We are always looking to recruit. If anyone is interested they should just drop by a practice and come out sailing,” Brudie said. “The best way to get started is to just hop in a boat!” ?