The Daily Gamecock

Gamecock Sailing Club plans to make most out of spring semester despite COVID-19

Two members of the sailing club sit on one of the sailboats during a sunset.
Two members of the sailing club sit on one of the sailboats during a sunset.

The Gamecock Sailing Club is a student-run sports organization looking to continue growing their community and the love for sailing at USC.

Re-established in 2012, the sailing club consists of two levels of commitment: club and team. Club sailing is geared towards students looking to learn how to sail and spend time on the water with friends. 

For students looking to get more involved, the sailing team competes in keelboat and dinghy race teams that compete around the Southeast at “regattas,” or events, against Georgia, Clemson, North Carolina State, Georgia Tech and more.

Sophomore club commodore (president) David Manley grew up sailing on the Chesapeake Bay, and said South Carolina “checked all the boxes” for him because of its sailing team. 

His favorite memory was when President Bob Caslen hosted the sailing team for ice cream party for beating Clemson his freshman year.

According to Manley, COVID-19 has mainly impacted the club by limiting travel for the race teams. Due to the 25-mile radius guidelines set on sports clubs, they are unable to travel to competitions, including the typical season opener in Tampa, Florida. 

“It’s an adjustment,” Alice Hart, a junior student and the secretary and head of social media, said. “I know Justin Furlough, head of the sports clubs, is working really hard to make sure that we can still be able to do sports.”

They are looking to make the most of the 25-mile radius restriction by hosting sails, or "clinics" on wellness holidays throughout the semester on Lake Murray. These are a way for club members to spend time together safely and allow anyone new to sailing to learn the ropes with team members.

Junior vice commodore Eilis McLaughlin said her first experience with club sailing was “kind of intimidating” because she went on the club’s capsize day and was told to “flip the boat over.” 

Despite the initial shock, McLaughlin said she “had a lot of fun [and] met a lot of people,” which led her to get more involved with the club.

The community of the sailing team is “a good group of hardworking people” who are supportive and encouraging, according to McLaughlin. She explains that under normal circumstances, the team enjoys going to games and tailgates together, but they are also supportive of one another when it comes to schoolwork.

Freshman public relations student and social media co-chair Emma Gouiran said that regardless of year in school or where members are from, everyone [on the team] was "overwhelmingly nice from day one.”

Hart said she missed being able to meet new club members this year due to COVID-19 guidelines. She said it was difficult to meet new members last semester because of the shortage of events. But, she hopes there will be more opportunities to safely get to know new members this spring.  

When asked, Manley, Gouiran and McLaughlin all emphasized that they wanted students to know that no experience is necessary to join the club. Manley said new members “can be a complete amateur[s]” because experienced sailors are there to make sure newcomers “don’t need to worry about drowning.”

“Sailors just want to spread sailing," Gouiran said. 

If the team can “get the ball rolling” and get on the water to practice and compete, they have the talent and potential to be “really good” going forward, Gouiran said. 

For students looking to get involved with Gamecock Sailing, the club post updates on its Instagram,  @gamecocksailingclub. Practices begin on March 1, and keelboat clinics will be on Feb. 13, Feb. 25 and March 20; followed by dinghy clinics on March 30 and April 21. 


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