By Carrie Snider
Sailing may be the last thing people think of with regard to Tucson, but that’s why the Tucson Sailing Club has such a strong draw. It helps people who love sailing come together to learn, socialize and get out on the water as much as possible.
Around these parts, there isn’t much water to speak of. Most folks in the Tucson Sailing Club with boats utilize Lake Pleasant near Phoenix or the waters at San Carlos, Mexico. But you aren’t required to own a boat to be part of the club – just love sailing.
Founded in 1970, the Tucson Sailing Club has about 150 members who enjoy cruising around the water and/or racing. Anyone interested in joining is welcome to attend a meeting or contact the club. New members pay a one-time fee of $50. Annual club dues are $40 per person or $60 per family.
Members can attend monthly meetings and several annual events, which include regattas, cruises, and lots of food and fun.
The club’s publicity chairwoman, Kerie Seamans, says she’s gained so much from being part of the club that would be difficult to accomplish alone.
“They were super welcoming,” she says. “They offer sailing classes. They tell us about deals at the marina. They point out hazards.”
Like many in the group, Seamans is an East Coast transplant who grew up around the ocean and sailed. She was pleasantly surprised when she found the Tucson Sailing Club, where she can learn about different aspects of sailing as well as the best places to take her boat.
“I love being out on the water, at the mercy of nature,” she explains. “It’s hard to describe how I feel being out there. I feel so alive.”
Although the boats are equipped with motors, it takes skill to adjust the sails and take advantage of the wind to make the boat take off.
“There is always more to learn,” Seamans says. “If you just sat and used a motor – where’s the fun in that? Although people say it looks like a lot of work.”
Marshall Williamson – the club’s commodore – is another East Coast transplant. Sailing was part of his life over there, and he brought it to Tucson. Williamson had the urge to connect with other water lovers to make the most of sailing in the area, so he searched and found the Tucson Sailing Club.
“When I moved here it was trickier to sail. In the club I found good friends and knowledge about sailing and racing.”
Williamson loves a little friendly competition. At the regattas, club members form teams and arrive to a starting line.
“There are rules and courses and committees – it’s pretty involved. I love the team aspect. The comradery is amazing. I love racing; it’s exhilarating.
“At the starting line, there is an advantage depending on where the wind is blowing and how you are positioned, but at any moment that can change.”
That challenge is what so many in the club love about sailing.
After the races come socializing and food, which can’t be beat. And then come the stories. “It’s a blast,” Williamson adds.