The Harbor Report: UCI Sailing Club in need of funds

Have you ever rediscovered an item that you did not want to lose and had put in a secure place? Upon finding this item, you sit down and part of your life flashes by, then a large smile then appears on your face.

That's what happened to me this week when I was asked to write a story regarding the UC Irvine Sailing Team. I never sailed for UCI, although I did sail and coach the Orange Coast College sailing team. The proximity of the two teams using the OCC Sailing Base as their homeport brought back fond memories.

It was like finding my grandmother's wedding ring in the family safe. And to me, that's what the UCI Sailing Team is to Newport Harbor, one of our harbors most treasured jewels.

Over the last 45 years the UCI Sailing Team has produced over 41 All American titles, seven National Championships and has provided an Intercollegiate Sailing Team for the local Newport sailors, names like Jon Pinckney, Nick Scandone, James Malm, Nick Adamson, Geoff Becker, Peter Wells and Julie Norman. If you would like to find out about the history of the UC Irvine Club Sailing Team, go to anteatersailing.com and it's all there.

One thing you should notice is the word "club" now appears before "sailing team." Less than three years ago, the university had to make cutbacks and the sailing team went from a full-fledged varsity program with a full-time coach and athletic department perks to a viable student-run racing program. Hence the use of the term "club."

A lot has changed since the 1980s at the sailing base, when I was sailing there. No longer do the students show up to practice like Jeff Spicoli in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" with a cloud of smoke coming out of a VW Bus behind him. These young adults are on their own and are very fortunate to have sophomore Will Larson currently taking on the task of organizing this 13-member team.

I cannot begin to explain how focused this club is and what they have achieved this year. Placing fifth at the Pacific Coast Championships (PCC) and a fourth at the Women's PCC, the team has also qualified for the Team Race Nationals that will be sailed at the Gorge in Oregon, May 27-29.

The only other team to qualify from the Pacific Coast was the team from Stanford. Not bad for a sailing club that must discipline themselves and still compete at a varsity level.

It's also good to see local sailor Colin Kincaid from Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club sailing the Varsity A fleet for UCI. I should point out that Colin and his dad, Pat, have sailed a Lido 14s in our harbor for years.

The team's roster is on its website and I felt a strong presence of team pride while talking to these students. One thing has not changed from the 1980s is still the lack of funding.

To help solidify the sailing team's future and ensure that it remains a highly competitive team, the UCI sailing club needs your help . The UCI sailors are in desperate need of new equipment and travel funds. While the ultimate goal is an endowment to support the program, the immediate need is at least $45,000, which is needed to replace the fleet of boats, repair the trailers and acquire new sails.

Other options for donating are donations through a partnership with the California International Sailing Assn. (CISA). To make a tax-deductible donation, please make checks out to CISA and send to UCI Sailing, c/o Danielle Richards, 1150 Anchorage Lane, Unit 109, San Diego, CA 92106.

The students did not ask me to make this plug for them. I just recall the same obstacles and would hate to lose this jewel in our harbor.

It also felt good to interact with these young adults, and I truly meant it when I volunteered to run some races during practice for the team. To be honest, watching the team practice will make me a better sailor and person.

Remember to follow me on twitter at @boseyachts. Sea ya!

LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist.

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