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Lake Lansing offers sailing experiences close to Michigan State

Lansing Sailing Club
Crew members hike out of the boat to balance the boat and keep it from capsizing.

Being on the water is a Michigan tradition, so having a place close to home to sail is a bonus for Michigan State students and greater Lansing.

Mid-Michigan is only a short drive away from the Great Lakes, but sometimes it is better to stick closer to home. Lake Lansing’s sailing clubs offer opportunities for people to get on the water and experience the sport for all ages.

The Lansing Sailing Club offers weekday junior sailing classes and adult classes on Saturdays to teach people of all ages how to crew a sailboat. Junior classes start at the 5th grade level and begin with the basics of the boat before moving the students toward intermediate and advanced classes.

The Club is hosting five week long sessions this summer, and each session has a morning and afternoon option. Each session costs $180 for members and $250 for non-members. Each session also has beginner and intermediate level sections, and both sections get about 10 to 12 kids, said Susanna Tellschow, the Commodore at the Lansing Sailing Club.

“We start with teaching how to tie a knot, how to read the boat, and set up figure eight courses for them to sail on,” said Maribeth Fletcher, the Rear Commodore at the Lansing Sailing Club.

The club wants to get people outside and enjoying nature, and it wants to help expand the sailing community to younger people since the community is getting older, Fletcher said.

MSU Sailing
An MSU crew works together to man the boat during a regatta.

Sailing helps people get away from every day life and focus their attention on something different. It is a complete body workout and it is also a great way to enjoy the natural environment, because the wind is the boat’s source of energy, Tellschow said.

“Out on the water, you have no sense of time that has gone by, and it is a total brain scrub,” Tellschow said. “Sometimes it is a very relaxing outing on the water when the wind is light. Other times the wind is honking you around, you are holding on by the seat of your pants, and you have to respond quickly to balance the boat. It’s a wild ride.”

Tellschow started a high school sailing program in 2017 to help expand the participation of teenagers in sailing at the Lansing Sailing Club. There are fall and spring seasons for high school sailing and it costs each participant $85 per season. The program currently has 17 kids involved from high schools across mid-Michigan. The MSU Sailing Center and Sailing team helped her get the program off the ground, Tellschow said.

“They have been instrumental through the use of their equipment, coaching the teams, and giving the high school sailing teams boats to practice on,” Tellschow said.

The MSU Sailing Center also runs classes for the community to learn how to sail, and runs a sailing elective course for MSU students in the summer and fall semesters.

“In the fall semester, we get about 50 students who take the learn to sail course, and the end goal is to grow the sport and the MSU team,” said Scott Petritz, the facility manager of the MSU sailing center.

MSU Sailing
The MSU sailing team in a regatta against other schools in the MCSA.

Petritz also advises the MSU Sailing team. The team is a student-run club organization, with Petritz helping the team with equipment and practice space. The MSU Sailing team is another opportunity for MSU students to learn how to sail by going out to the practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays to learn their way around a sailboat.

“It’s a really cool opportunity to get out on the water and learn a new hobby,” said sophomore Kate Crannell, a member of the sailing team. “Everyone who knows how to sail at the club will teach you everything you need to know.”

The team is a part of the Midwest Collegiate Sailing Association (MCSA), and it competes in regattas against schools like Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin. Since the club is not funded by the school for travel to races, the team raises money through dues, fundraisers and donations.

“Sailing is a dying sport,” said Brynna Smith, Commodore of the MSU Sailing team. “A lot of older people are into it, and it is expensive to get into, so it is good to have opportunities to sail for free with MSU.”

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