TCSC Activities: “Learning, mixing, racing.”
TCSC members participate in a variety of activities to become better sailors and have fun in the process! Information about dates and times for the following club activities are broadcasted in the club’s weekly email newsletter and online discussion forum (available to members only)
- Club Orientation & New Member Welcome Clinics (Spring) – New and returning members meet up in the classroom to learn more about the club – and share some sailing tips.
- Fleet Launch (early May) – Members gather to haul the fleet from winter storage and launch the boats onto the water! This is a great opportunity to learn more about rigging the various boats in TCSC’s fleet.
- Skipper Week (May) – Returning skippers can meet up at the dock every night of the week during ‘Skipper Week’ (the week following the fleet launch) to get their sea legs back and practice their skills before new members join them a week later.
- Skipper Nights (every Thursday evening) – Skippers only night on the lake, to hone our sailing skills and help build confidence in teaching others how to sail.
- ALL CLUB SAILING (May to early October) – Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings all Summer long. Members meet at the dock; experienced members are matched in boats with less-experienced members and we set sail!
- Lake Superior Charter (September) – Members charter keel boats out of Bayfield, Wisconsin, and experience a weekend of Great Lakes sailing!
- Fleet Pull (early October) – Members gather to pull the boats off the lake and return the fleet to winter storage.
- Kick-Off Party (Spring) – As the winter draws to a close and the fleet launch approaches, members gather to renew acquaintances and have as much fun as is possible on dry land!
- Club Mixers/Parties (all Summer long!) – Once a month, a different club member opens his or her house and welcomes club members to a mixer!
- End-of-Season Banquet (Autumn) – Awards and merriment at an off-lake establishment. All members are welcome!
- Other picnics and special events (Summer Sailstice, Calhoun Beach Club)
Fun Times Armada
Each Fall, the club charters several large boats for an extended weekend of sailing in the Apostle Islands!
Got speed? You don’t need to be an experienced sailor to enjoy the thrill of racing. Racing opportunities are open to club members – crew, safety boat or skippering a boat in races on Lake Harriet. Experienced racers are often need “crew” on high-wind days. Races sponsored by LHYC and open to TCSC members are held June to August during most Wednesday nights, Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings. This is a terrific opportunity to learn to sail outside of club times. To get involved, contact John Berg, TCSC Race Coordinator, at skipper.johnb (at) gmail.com.
- Off-Water Racing Clinics (Winter and Spring) – While it’s still too cold to sail, racers are meeting up to talk strategies, tactics, and rules – all in preparation for the upcoming racing season. Courses from both TCSC and Lake Harriet Yacht Club are made available to all TCSC members.
- On-Water Racing Clinics (Spring) – In preparation for the upcoming Championship sailing season, TCSC racers hone their skills in various drills and on-the-water racing scenarios.
- Racing and Regattas (May to September – all Summer long!) – TCSC is a member of Lake Harriet Yacht Club, which allows TCSC members to participate in LHYC’s races all season!
- SCUM Challenge (Late Summer) – This fun, yet skill-testing obstacle course available to all TCSC members is a tip of the cap to TCSC’s origins as part of the Sailing Club at the University of Minnesota
Sailing Days on Lake Harriet
Club Sailing: We sail as a club Tuesday nights (5:30PM-dusk), Saturday mornings (9AM-Noon) and Sunday afternoons (1-4PM; during the first six weeks of the season excluding Memorial Day weekend). Our sailing season on Lake Harriet starts in May and ends in October. Club members meet at the picnic table by the sailing shed, near the dock just east of the Lake Harriett band shell. When one arrives, he/she gets a name tag and signs in on the clipboard with the First Mate. People will be assigned to a boat and a skipper (instructor) on a first-come, first-served basis.
Club Skippers have access to the boats outside of club sailing times for personal sailing. In return, they participate in club sailing days and provide an on-board environment for new sailors to improve their skills. More information about becoming a skipper is below. Club members who are not skippers do not have access to club boats outside of club sailing times, unless they are sailing with a skipper.
Bad Weather. Inclement weather may force the club to cancel a club sailing day. Conditions will be assessed at the dock and the decision whether or not the club will sail will be made–and announced–at the dock only.
If sailing is cancelled we will endeavor to organize alternative land-based or at-dock training activities.
What to bring? The focus is on being safe and comfortable while sailing. Only one piece of gear is required to sail with the club: a personal floatation device (a.k.a. a PFD or lifejacket). A PFD can be purchased at most sporting goods stores. The following items are optional, but recommended:
- Sun protection: sunscreen, hat, sunglasses (filtered, with UV protection), lip block
- Appropriate dress: Warm clothes on cool days. Light but protective clothes on warm days. Keep in mind you might get wet! It may be nice to keep a change of clothes in your car.
- Water or another drink to keep you hydrated while on the water.
- Non-marking deck shoes, sailing gloves, a dry bag (to keep keys and phones dry): These items may be found at West Marine (Ridgedale, Bloomington) or Seven Seas (located at the Shorewood Yacht Club.)
Parking: Parking exists near the sailing shed. A relatively inexpensive Patron Parking Permit may be purchased from the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board. Free on-street parking is usually available around the lake, and a convenient area is near the intersection of W. 42nd St and S. Queen Ave.
Community activities like concerts and races often coexist with our sailing activities, putting a strain on available parking. On those occasions club are encouraged to use alternative transportation.
Becoming a Skipper
Skippers are experienced club sailors who have demonstrated a higher level of sailing proficiency. All new members are encouraged to become skippers. There will always be at least one skipper on a club boat when under sail. During club sailing times, a skipper’s role is to provide an on-board environment for new sailors to improve their skills. Most skippers are not trained instructors, but they will do their best to answer questions and demonstrate techniques.
All new members should receive a “Skipper-Out Card.” A new member interested in becoming a skipper should study his/her sailing manual, practice on club sailing days and ask a skipper to sign his/her Skipper-Out Card when he/she proficiently demonstrates a skill. Skills include (but are not limited to) tacking and jybing, dock departures and returns, knot-tying, crew overboard recovery and sailing in stronger winds. Once the card is completely filled out, the sailor needs to pass a written exam and an on-water exam before becoming a skipper. New members with substantial previous sailing experience should contact the club’s Head Instructor about an alternate process to become a club skipper. How long it takes to become a skipper depends on a variety of factors including the club member’s existing sailing knowledge and how often he/she participates in club sailing days. Most members have become skippers within one sailing season, and many “skipper-out” by mid-season. New members with previous sailing experience often complete this process more quickly.
The biggest benefit of becoming a skipper is access to the fleet of boats outside of club sailing dates and times for personal sailing. That benefit comes with the responsibility of acting as a “skipper” for others, which includes sailing with the club and working with club members on two club sailing days per month.
The Club’s Guiding Philosophy
When you join the Twin Cities Sailing Club, you are not just learning to sail or sailing boats. It’s so much more than that. You are joining a community of fun-loving people dedicated to the sport of sailing. Our sailing club is operated much like a cooperative; it is owned and operated by the members for our own benefit. Indeed, when you’ve learned to sail, we ask that you give back to the club and even volunteer as an instructor. As much as possible, the club promotes a “self-service” philosophy, meaning that your experience is dependent upon your initiative. More than anything else, individual member initiative is what creates a positive experience for each individual member—and improves the club as a whole. As a member, we hope you will join us for not just sailing, but also our social activities throughout the season.