Club Sailing

Club Information & Plans

GVSU sailor standing in front of multicolored spinnaker sail.

Sailing with spinnakers in the Detroit River at the 2022 Sloop Champs

Sailing at Grand Valley is an active Club Sport that competes around the Midwest, and nationally. Our co-ed team is part of the MCSA (Midwest Collegiate Sailing Association), which is a conference of the ICSA (Intercollegiate Sailing Association). If you are skeptical of your racing or sailing abilities, no worries! There is plenty of time for practice and instruction. Practices are held at Macatawa Bay Yacht Club on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 3:30 to 6 p.m. We like to know in advance if you plan to attend practice, we we can let our coach, Hannah, know! You can reach out about practice, and with general questions, to Co-Commodore Carly Irwin via email [email protected]

  • President: Carly Irwin
  • Vice President: Gabriella Thomas
  • Financial Officer: Reid Kwiatkowski
  • Public Relations: Garrett Szlachta
  • Risk Manager: Reed Rossell

Club E-Mail: [email protected]



GV sailors give the "Anchor Up" sign on the bow of a boat, backed by the Chicago skyline

Carly Irwin '24 and Sarah Corder '23 after a day of sailing in Chicago at GLIOR

Two GVSU sailors in a boat

Carly Irwin and Garrett Szlachta, both '23, sailing a 420 at Western Michigan University this fall.

Sailing team members giving smiles and thumbs up after getting caught in a rainstorm

A little rain won't stop the sailing team!

Team Schedule

Fall '23 and Spring '24 Schedule




Overall Results

Sept 9-10


Toledo YC, Storm Trysail


Sept. 15-16

Fall Fury

University of Wisconsin


Sept. 24-24


Columbia YC, Storm Trysail Club


Oct. 7-8


Larchmont YC, Story Trysail Club


Oct. 15-16

Emma B. Regatta

Hope College


Oct. 22-23


Michigan State University


April 5th-6th

MCSA Open Fleet Race Championship

Grosse Point YC


April 13th-14th

Laker Showdown



Spring/Fall 24 Roster

First Name

Last Name






Macomb, MI




Grosse Pointe Park, MI




Armada, MI




Grand Haven, MI




Troy, Mi








Holland, MI




Livonia, MI




Traverse City, MI












Holland, Mi

Social Media

View on Facebook

Team info and FAQ

About Us

The Club Sailing Team at GVSU is a co-ed, student-run club sport that develops regionally and nationally competitive sailors, fosters new sailing talent, and builds a community and sense of camaraderie among undergraduate students. We compete in regattas in the Midwest during the fall and spring seasons.

We are an organization, that stands for giving the GVSU student body the opportunity to participate competitively or noncompetitively in the sport of sailing. In doing so, we will uphold the high standards established by Grand Valley State University's other athletic programs.

Historically, the GVSU Sailing Team can be traced back around thirty years, when GVSU alumnus Mitch Padnos started a team, but later it fizzled out due to lack of leadership once the founding members departed. The Lakers had a sailing team on and off in the 1990s as well, until a few years ago with Commodore Abbey Barnes made it her priority to create a competitive, serious, club team at GVSU. The team currently sails on Lake Macatawa and Lake Michigan, we are based out of the Macatawa Bay Yacht Club, with a strategic partnership with the Junior Association in Holland, MI.

Team FAQ's

Do I need prior experience to join Club Sailing at GVSU?
Not at all! Many of our new sailors every year have not sailed competitively before. We are a club sports team rather than a varsity team, so we emphasize teaching beginning sailors and helping each other improve. Many of our sailors work as sailing instructors over the summer, so teaching new sailors is a learning experience for them, too. Having sailing and racing experience is awesome, but having a willingness to learn and a desire to improve is just as important.

How much commitment is the team?
All sailors are expected to practice at least once a week. Practices are on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the fall and winter semesters from 3:30 to 6 p.m. We also hold more casual practices and other events on non-regatta weekends. There is a regular meeting every Tuesday evening, where we share information about upcoming regattas, fundraising, and social events. All members who intend to participate competitively pay dues of $150 for both semesters, and those who would like to participate recreationally are also welcome and the dues are adjusted based on that. After joining the team, new sailors are advised to purchase a variety of gear including drysuits, gloves, and boots. We have many connections in the boating community to assist our sailors in getting the best price for high-quality gear, so no worries!

How do I join the team?
If you know for sure that you want to sail in college, it is always a good idea to send in a brief self-introduction or even sailing resume to us (via email to [email protected]). Look out for Grand Valley Sailing Team at Campus Life Night, and attend a meeting. From there we can get started!

When do we sail? Even in crazy Michigan winters?
As mentioned, we sail throughout the fall and spring semesters. That means that we start sailing in early September, and end in October, as the water gets cold. Then we start up again after Spring break in March, until the end of the school year. In the winter, although we're not sailing, we hold meetings and learning sessions and hang out as a team!

How competitive is the team?
We sail in MCSA regattas as well as a few intersectional regattas. During fall we compete in regattas almost every weekend. In the spring it's a little more laid back, but we still practice and participate in a regatta here and there. For MCSA regattas, we travel around the Midwest, usually around Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. For more information about current coaches and regatta results, check out the tabs above.

What is Lake Michigan/Lake Macatawa water like?
Lake Michigan/Macatawa blows medium to heavily most of the time, and the water stays pretty cold until May. The winds are usually out of the West, and since Lake Macatawa is connected to Lake Michigan we will practice on the big lake when the weather accommodates. Don't worry—drysuits and practice will keep you warm. Also, since water and wind are an integral part of sailing, you will learn to embrace their varying conditions as you practice.

What should I do if I want to visit the team in person?
Definitely email any executive board members of the team and we will set something up for you! Make sure to join our GroupMe, and visit us at events.

What are the benefits of sailing at Grand Valley State University, as opposed to other schools?
We practice at the Macatawa Bay Junior Association, which is located, a short half-hour drive away. The site is strategically located to allow for sailing in many different conditions, including the ability to sail on the beautiful Lake Michigan! We have direct accessibility to a fleet of 420's, and JY-15's. There are also lots of opportunities for you to stay involved all year, as there are one-design and "big-boat" fleets that sail out of the club from May to November. There are lots of opportunities to learn and further your "big-boating" skills, as well as participate with yacht club members in a variety of activities. In regards to job opportunities, we act as a funnel of skilled sailors to their summer programs, so if you are looking to be an instructor there are opportunities there as well.

Page last modified January 25, 2024