Sailing Club: a competitive community

A quick glance at Tech campus does not suggest that it would lend itself well to outdoor aquatics. Atlanta is far from a coastal city and home to no major rivers. GT Sailing Club is looking to change that perception.

Based out of nearby Lake Lanier, the Sailing Club was founded as a means to compete with other schools and expose Tech students to the pastime.

The group’s constitution dictates that it exists “to encourage sailing, teach sailing and promote racing to all members of the Georgia Tech community.” For a student who did not previously have the time, resources or inclination to participate in such activities, the Sailing Club provides a gentle introduction.

More committed and experienced members, though, find a different kind of enjoyment altogether. The team competes in regattas, competitions against schools from around the region and country.

Common opponents include powerhouse College of Charleston and the University of Georgia. Each race can end as quickly as 10 minutes, but the preparation that goes into the event can vary drastically from one course to another. Navigating a river current, for example, offers a starkly different set of challenges than the more docile lakes on which the Jackets typically practice, such as the aforementioned Lanier.

Second-year Kasia Kwasniak grew up sailing on Lake Allatoona, northwest of Atlanta. When she came to Tech, she knew she wanted to continue that.

She soon discovered the significant differences between leisure and competitive sailing; communication between teammates was vital and even more factors had to be considered within each two-member team.

“One [team member] is a skipper; the skipper is the one who controls the helm [and] the rudder. The other person is the crew, and they control the sail up front,” Kwasniak said.

Together, the pair must navigate a winding path while keeping an eye on other competitors and ensuring their time is competitive.

Last weekend, Tech hosted a regatta of its own, which Kwasniak described as an opportunity for young, relatively inexperienced team members to get their first competitive experience.

Competitive or not, the Sailing Club offers a community for like-minded Tech students.

“There’s nothing better than being out on the water with your best friends,” Kwasniak said.