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How the UST Sailing Team Came to Be

Sailing Tommies in the news

Founded originally in 1981, the University of St. Thomas Club Sailing Team was off to a slow start. In fact, the team goes un-recorded until 1983. With no information of the team's original founder, or founding members, our beginnings kicked off with what seemed to be radio silence. However, there is a brief mention of the team having eight members in '82. Coming from an article, like most available information on the club, this record of 1982's member count is plausible at best. To the left is the first recorded (if not surviving) picture of the '83 team. Found amongst the school's yearbooks, 17 St. Thomas students stand proud and in awe of the Lake Harriet sail they hold up. In this seemingly inaugural year, the team hosted their first regatta. Though, unsure of how they managed, as multiple '83 articles record their lack of equipment and practice space, this team thrived. 

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University of St. Thomas 1983 Yearbook Photo

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University of St. Thomas 1984 Yearbook Photo

It is noted that the club sailed Flying Junior, or FJ, boats between the years of 1981 and 1986. Without their own boats, or a place to sail out of, their practice with these vessels was scarce. In fact, it seems most of the team's practice was done during the summer months on scow class boats. Scows, which were built for inland lakes, like those of Minnesota, are popular to this day. Unfortunately, these boats are built differently (and bigger) than FJ's. This, though, must have proved to be an advantage, as technique rather than the intricate working of parts was the sailors main focus as they transitioned from practice to race.

In their first five years, the club attended at least three regattas. Due to updated record keeping techniques, I am convinced most of the team's races have been lost to time. Along with regatta records, the University's club records are nearly non-existent. Relying only on yearbook photos and news articles, I've discerned only two of these first five years where the club held presidents, David Hamel in '83 and Brian Walsh in '86.

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University of St. Thomas 1985 Yearbook Photo

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University of St. Thomas 1986 Yearbook Photo

The founding Club Sailing team survived until '86, with It's member count maxing out at around 33 students in it's last year. With little information, I believe that somewhere between 1986 and 2000 the team disbanded. Though the club did extraordinarily well in it's first years, the depletion of interest (or lack of strong foundation) left the team non-existent for a decade and a half.

In 2001 a petition for the team’s reinstatement was placed by Bob Foster, Emily Allen, and Ali George. These three Minnetonka sailors had high hopes for bringing the team back, and in 2002, sailing was officially recognized as a club sport. By 2003 the club gained around 25 members including Foster and new sailor, Dan Shinozaki, an enthusiastic recruit. The renewed club started sailing 420’s on Lake Minnetonka and attended at least three regattas. By 2004 membership lowered to 15 students, however, the team’s successes continued as they moved to Wayzata Yacht Club and gained coaches Brent Ostby and Cappy Capper. They sailed in at least 2 regattas in 2004 and gained member Lindsay Allen, who would become a national single-handed sailor in 2006.

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Pictured (left to right):
back- Ali George, Evan Hughes,
Emily Allen, front- Bob Foster

Photo courtesy of Jodi Grandy/ The Aquin

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Pictured: 2003 UST Club Sailing Team

Photo courtesy of Aquin Sports "Come sail away" article (May 9, 2003)

 In 2006, the team hosted it’s first regatta since it's reinstatement. Having moved to Lake Bde Maka Ska (formerly Calhoun), the team was coached by Alex Symes. Sailing Club 420’s, they attended at least three regattas. Records suggest that 2007 saw an even greater decrease in club membership, with only six students, and in 2008 the team moved back to Lake Minnetonka, sailing out of Wayzata Bay under the instruction of coaches Ben Bergum and Cappy Capper. Once again hosting a regatta, the team’s membership spiked to around 15 sailors.

In spring of 2009, Senior Charlie Igo went to the single-handed nationals, and the team had raced in about two regattas. The following year, the club raced in the national semifinals. Though they didn't make the cut for nationals, the St. Thomas sailors were well accomplished. These last few years of the team were riddled with varying membership counts, as well as a few incredibly impressive sailors.

Pictured: Original USTST burgee

Photo courtesy of Tom Hodgson

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Photo courtesy of Jimmy Eagle/ The Aquin

Early in 2010, Alumni Dan Shinozaki (not pictured) died of colon cancer. Shino was an integral member of the club, and helped them reach towards their full potential in the early 2000's.

Soon after the 2010 season ended, the team disbanded, again. However, the club was picked back up in 2015 by Hans Vroege, Lily Anasari, and Lauren Vallez. They sailed on Lake Minnetonka with an unnamed coach, and attended at least one regatta. However, as no records follow, it is assumed the team disbanded again shortly after attempting reinstatement. 

Photo courtesy of Lindsay Valasek

"A very cold, windy, snowy Women's Qualifier at Notre Dame."-Lindsay Valasek

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University of St. Thomas 2007 Yearbook Photo

October 14, 2009 

"UST senior Charlie Igo qualified for the Intercollegiate Sailing Association National Single-Hand Championship last weekend in Milwaukee, Wis. The national championship will feature the top 18 men and 18 women in the country from seven conferences. This marks the second time Igo has represented the University of St. Thomas Sailing Team on the national level."

Source: St.Thomas Newsroom

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Pictured (left to right): Charlie Igo, Medora Sletton, 
Brandon Wilson, and Matthew Weishan

Photo courtesy of The Aquin "Making waves at nationals" article (May 15, 2009)

April 21, 2006 

"Congratulations to the University of St. Thomas sailing team, which placed seventh of 12 teams in last weekend's Gopher Invite hosted by the University of Minnesota. The team competed on Lake Minnetonka against Big 10 Conference schools."

Source: St. Thomas Newsroom

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University of St. Thomas 2009 Yearbook Photo

May 7, 2010 

"The St. Thomas club sailing team competed at the national semifinals May 1 and 2 in Seattle, Wash. [They] qualified by taking fourth place at the Notre Dame regatta April 16 and 17."
Source: Tommie Media

Until 2021 the team sat in silence, with one 420 boat sitting at the Wayzata Sailing center. In the fall of 2021 Rachel Bartel, who has sailed her whole life on Lake Minnetonka, expressed an interest to reinstate the team. The team’s 2021-2022 inaugural year went well, membership sat comfortably around 12 sailors and two teams were sent to five regattas. The club even hosted a regatta, the Tommie Cup. The club currently sails out of Wayzata Sailing on Lake Minnetonka, practices three days a week, and continues to find ways to improve performance, recognition, and membership.

Notable Mentions

1981- UST Sailing Club is founded

1983- The club hosts it's first regatta

1983- Became MCSA member with help from U of M and Marquette Sailing teams

2001- Club undergoes trial reinstatement

2002- Sailing recognized as an official club sport

2006- Club hosts first regatta since reinstatement

2021- Club undergoes trial reinstatement

2022- Sailing is recognized as a club sport

Sources

- The University of St. Thomas Yearbooks, 1980-2013

- Sailing with Shino Foundation, https://sailingwithshino.wordpress.com/

- April 15, 1983 “Crew, Sailing Clubs afloat despite stormy spring weather” by Helmut Schmit
- November, 18, 1983 “Sailing Club overcomes obstacles, races towards success” by Gary Boser

- May 2, 1986 “Sailors fight foul play in sea battle at Iowa City” by Lisa Kujawa

- December 7, 2001 “Sails are set for new school club” by Heather Allen

- May 9, 2003 “Come sail away: St. Thomas sailors compete against Division I teams and try to make a name for themselves in national waters” by Andrea Weinfurt

- March 5, 2004 “Speed dating raises money for sailing team: Students have three minutes to see if sparks fly” by Ryan Post
- April 23, 2004 “Sailing team is surprising top competition” by Carly Gau

- May 5, 2006 “Sailing team season coming to an end” by Laura Glass
- November 10, 2006 “ Blowing past the competition: Senior Lindsay Allen takes first in Midwest sailing regatta” by Rory Mattson

- April 21, 2006 “Team sails to good finish, women compete this weekend at Notre Dame” by St. Thomas Newsroom

- September 12, 2008 “First home-water advantage for sailing team” by Whitney Husnik

- May 15, 2009 “Making waves at nationals: The sailing team has made a name for itself in a field of big schools” by Daniel Grimmer
- October 22, 2009 “Igo grabs second at regionals, now onto nationals” by Ben Katzner
- October 14, 2009 “UST senior sets sail for national championships” by St. Thomas Newsroom

- "Sailing club chats about competing at national semifinals” by Jordan Osterman

- May 18, 2015 “New club seeks to show students the world of sailing” by William Faust
 

Written by USTST member Livia Wagner.

Any information you may have on the team, photos or otherwise, is greatly appreciated.

It has taken a lot of work to uncover records and put together a comprehensible history of this team. Forever my dream to keep the origins of this club alive, with any and all information please contact us at stthomas.sailing@gmail.com