Little known facts: UD’s sailing club

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Photo courtesy of UD Archives.

Clubs and other extracurricular activities hold great importance in the lives of current University of Dallas students, and the same can be said for students who attended the university during the 1970s.

UD’s dean of women, Gail Thomas, was the first faculty member to propose the creation of a sailing club, and its enormous popularity during this time resulted in a waiting list for entry into the club.

UD students traded books and essays for rigging and sails as they headed out to Rush Creek Yacht Club located on Lake Ray Hubbard in Rockwall, Texas.

“[The purpose of the yacht club is to] encourage and assist young people, from pre-teenagers through graduate students, to become initiated into the art, the science and the mystique of sailing,” Jack Raskopf, of The Dallas News Herald 1972, wrote.

Jim Comfort, director of Rush Creek Yacht Club’s Educational Foundation, allowed the students to use many of the “420” racing boats for club activities.

In the club, students were taught the art of sailing, including how to deal with the weather and elements around them. Student tasks for the club included painting, towing and repairing the “420” racing boats.

After the club’s creation, many faculty members with a passion for sailing became involved. The club’s creator,Thomas, was known as a “sailor of championship caliber” and had previously raced boats throughout the U.S.

Other faculty included Dr. Jack Towne, a veteran sailor from Wisconsin; Harris Garret, whose personal boat was used as a training vessel for students; and Dr. Frederick Wilhelmsen, who once sailed the Great Lakes.

Wilhelmsen thoroughly enjoyed the club and described his passion for sailing in Raskopf’s article:

“In sailing you are close to the springs of creation. You work with the elements, the wind, the tides and the sea. In effect, the sailor weds himself to the sea.”

Not only the professors were interested in the club’s activities, but the students also got on board. Graduate student Ginny Lombardo participated in the club and claimed that sailing allows you to “leave your land problems behind you.”

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