Sailor Bears: Sailing Club connects students through niche interest

The Baylor Sailing Club has become quite competitive over the years, even competing in regattas. Photo courtesy Tyler Selkin

By Sarah Gallaher | Staff Writer

Even in Central Texas, Baylor Bears find a way to spend time on the water. The Sailing Club has long been a part of the university’s history, participating in competitions and leisurely sailing since the 1970s.

As a part of the Southeastern Intercollegiate Sailing Association, the Sailing Club meets weekly at Ridgewood Country Club on Lake Waco, developing the skills of seasoned sailors and teaching the basics to those who are brand new to sailing.

Hanover, Mass., senior Meghan Collett, who serves as the senior adviser to the club, began sailing at 8 years old. Collett never expected to find a club dedicated to sailing in Waco, so she said discovering a place to share her interests with others was comforting.

“While I was so excited to move to Texas, I wasn’t expecting it to be so crazily different, so it can be really calming to me when I’m homesick to hop on a boat,” Collett said. “I feel like a little part of me is still with my hometown when I’m out on the water.”

Since Collett has prior experience with sailing, she said she loves to teach others who have never tried it before. The Sailing Club offers a free sailing adventure prior to collecting dues, so those who are interested can get a feel for it before committing. However, Collett said the first time on the water seals the deal for many potential new members.

“The first time you’re in high winds and someone experiences that, the smile and the rush that they get on their face, it makes my day,” Collett said.

McAllen sophomore Madeline Glasper, who serves as the navigator of the club, first heard about the Sailing Club at Late Night. Although Glasper always loved the water, she had never sailed before, but after sailing with the club, she said she felt the rush Collett described.

“We went out on one of these really windy days, and it was so much fun,” Glasper said. “I never would have probably ever sailed without this team.”

After learning the basics, members can participate in competitions known as regattas. Regattas are races in which multiple boats try to complete the same course in the shortest amount of time.

“It can be really intricate, but at its most basic form, it’s just a bunch of boats sailing in a circle in the fastest way possible,” Collett said.

Baylor usually competes with four other schools at a time, each with two boats on the water. During the 2021-2022 season, the Sailing Club landed first place in a regatta in Oklahoma.

“That was the first big win that I celebrated and was really happy about,” Collett said.

Regattas are one of the things members look forward to, as they give them a chance to test their skills against other college students. However, the frequency of competitions depends on outside factors like the weather and water levels — something that impacted the club this year.

“We had a lot of trouble getting out there early in the season,” Plano junior and president Tyler Selkin said.

Despite the slow start to the season, the Sailing Club got back on the water in October. The water level in Lake Waco rose by 15 feet following a record low, according to an article from The Waco Tribune-Herald.

When the weather and water levels impact sailing conditions, the Sailing Club spends time together in other ways. Social events outside of sailing are generally held at least once a month or when practices are canceled for a long period of time. Members go to dinner or watch movies together to build community.

“We get to just come together outside of sailing, no matter the weather,” Glasper said.

Spending time sailing and socializing results in lasting friendships among club members. Although sailing is a niche interest, Collett said it brings people together in a distinct way.

“Being a part of the team makes it even better because you’re able to build a community around something that we all love, so it’s really been impactful and a great opportunity to lead others as well,” Selkin said.

The Sailing Club welcomes potential new members at any time during the season, regardless of prior experience. Those interested can reach out to Selkin via the @baylorsailing Instagram account or through email at