Seated on the shores of Baseline Lake is a unique all-volunteer sailing club that serves the local community and is home to the University of Michigan Sailing Team.

It’s called the Michigan Sailing Club. It’s a co-operative club dedicated to the pleasure and fellowship of small-boat sailing. The all-volunteer club offers sailing (both racing and leisurely day-sailing), windsurfing, paddle-craft, swimming, fishing and more.

To learn more about this club, the Sun Times News connected with Jeff Kaloustian, the Commodore of the Michigan Sailing Club.

Detailing some of its history and explaining what the club is, Kaloustian said it was formed in 1938 by a group of Naval Architecture students from the U of M. He said the club originally was located on Whitmore Lake operating out of the basement of the roller rink, but was moved to its current location on Baseline Lake in 1953.

“It has changed from a student organization to an independent, non-profit club,” Kaloustian said. “We are open to the general public for membership, and you do not have to be affiliated with the University of Michigan to join! Our club serves as home to the University of Michigan Sailing Team and Sailing Team members are also members of the Michigan Sailing Club. The U of M team generally operates in the spring and fall when students are in Ann Arbor during the school year. This spreads out and staggers the use of the club facilities as the U of M team is often sailing earlier in the spring and later in the fall than many of our other members.”

He said the club is “unique since we are all-volunteer and this keeps our dues and costs low.”

“Members do not have to own a boat since we have our own fleet of boats for members to use,” Kaloustian says.

He said it’s important to note that they are not a sailing school, marina, or a place to rent a boat.

“We want to welcome people into our fold who are interested in sailing,” he said.  “Our volunteer instructors teach members how to sail at all levels. We hope that our students become long-term members of our community, but we understand that we may not be right for everyone or that life takes them elsewhere. I always love to hear from former students who are sailing somewhere else in the world.”

Kaloustian has been involved at the club since 2001, but he’s been racing sailboats since he was 18. Over time his interest grew in it and he wanted to do more to promote the sport of sailing and teach others to sail.

“So, it was an easy choice to get more involved with the Michigan Sailing Club, which is only two miles from my home,” he said.

He’s gone from becoming a US Sailing certified instructor, to being on the board as treasurer, to Vice Commodore (in charge of instruction), to Commodore. He acquired the title of “Old Goat” in 2017, having sailed 25 Bayview Mackinac races.

“I am excited to maintain the club’s character while improving our sailing programs,” Kaloustian said. “I’m also working on some new, inclusive social sailing activities for the club. Look for lots of sailboats on Baseline Lake this summer!”

The club holds beginner lessons primarily on Saturday mornings before powerboat traffic gets busy, Kaloustian said.

“We teach on the water as well as on land, teaching skills like proper knot tying, general boating rules, and sailboat handling skills,” he said. “Students learn a core set of skills that lead to our Basic rating.”

Heading into another season of sailing with the Michigan Sailing Club.

A view of the Michigan Sailing Club. photo courtesy of the Michigan Sailing Club

He said members “who are interested in furthering their sailing skill and more involvement in the club can pursue a Helm rating, and our highest rating of Skipper, which represents a refined level of sailing skills, knowledge, and experience.”

“We also rely on members to learn and develop boat repair and maintenance skills to keep our fleet ship shape,” Kaloustian said. “We are lucky to have member experts in many aspects of boating in our club.”

So it is a unique club with a membership made up of people who love sailing (all skill levels- including those who have never sailed but want to learn) and those who want to be part of a sailing community that includes volunteering, teaching, making friends, meeting new people, racing, windsurfing, and being part of a club.

To learn more, the club is planning open house times for prospective members to visit on April 27th, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and on the 28th from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Check out their website for times and more information on joining the club.



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