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The Brother Rice & Mother McAuley Sailing Team FAQ

Who is in charge?

The sailing team is a parent and student run organization between Brother Rice and Mother McAuley. Sailing Master, Kurt Thompsen, and his coaching staff at Columbia Yacht Club teach our student sailors in classroom sessions and ‘on the water’ programs.

Where do the students sail?

The Chicago-land high school teams are ‘sponsored’ by the various Chicago yachting clubs. Brother Rice-Mother McAuley sails out of Columbia Yacht Club (The ‘big blue boat’ docked just south of Navy Pier at DuSable Harbor). Information about Columbia can be viewed at: www.columbiayachtclub.com. Follow the links to the sailing school for descriptions of the sailing programs, information about the instructors, and the regattas. We are extremely fortunate to have the sponsorship of this outstanding organization!

We share the instructors with other teams (University of Chicago Lab School and The University of Chicago teams, Walter Peyton, Whitney Young, Fenwick, UIC and Robert Morris University, to name a few). Columbia has a long history of supporting and promoting youth sailing. Junior Olympic finals were hosted by Columbiain 2010 and 2011. Having multiple teams learn and compete together enhances the experiences and comradeship of the teams. If the students continue with summer sailing, they have the opportunity to sail and compete with sailors from the other teams and compete in Junior Olympic level events.

How do the students get down to Chicago?

During the first year of the team, parents drove the students downtown. This took a great deal of time because of traffic. The Metra Southwest line train from Oak Lawn leaves after school and gets the students to Union Station with much less strain and in a more eco-friendly fashion (there are only 3 stops between Oak Lawn and Union Station!). Alternatively, the students can take the bus to the 103rd St. station in Beverly.  The students can walk from Union Station to Columbia in 10 to 15 minutes. The 132 bus goes from Union Station to Navy Pier if less exercise is the option. Sailors in the summer program used this route of transportation to and from sailing and found it was much quicker than driving. We used this method of transport for the past 2 fall and last spring seasons and it worked out very well. For pick-up parents need to car pool and/or have the students take the train home. Students from the other programs have used this mode of transportation from as far as Lake Forest for many years. The students had good team building during the cooperative transport efforts. Car-pooling is always an option if there are individuals capable of managing the task. We prefer all students travel together for team building.

How much does all this cost?

  1. The cost of sailing at Columbia per season is $450. This includes the instructors (classroom and on the water), classes, use of the sailboats, and manned rescue boats which go out with and monitor the sailboats.
  2. Equipment: when the weather turns cold, ISSA mandates that all sailors wear a ‘dry suit’. This is a onetime expense and is a specially designed water impermeable suit to prevent cold injury to sailors should they get wet. The suit is designed to last a lifetime (unless your sailor is still growing!). The team receives a discount on a combination package offered to high school students (dry suit, sailing gloves, sailing boots, and neoprene socks) and runs approximately $400. As well, these items can be purchased on Craig’s list and ebay at reduced prices or directly from Sierra Trading Post or sailing supply stores. A life jacket (Division 3 safety jacket) variably priced. Other clothing used while sailing should be made of quick drying materials or ‘spray gear’.
    1.  Equipment rental for the season is available for those in need. There are 4 dry suits, wet suits and various pieces of equipment available for a $100 deposit and rental ( if the equipment is returned in good shape the $50 are returned; other wise the deposit is used towards equipment repairs). This is available through various donations from Crowleys sailing supplies, Nautical Donations, and Larry Kwait (Alumni) and others including all the parents who donated time in making this sport a reality and opening doors for our crusaders.
  3. Regattas run $10-$70/weekend. (Includes use of the boats, officials, rescue boats, awards and meals.)
  4. We ask all participants to pay a $100 fee up front for expenses incurred with the program including team tee shirts, awards, and the end of season parties. $50 of this amount is put into the escrow as if there is damage to a boat during regattas we are responsible for up to $200. Over the past 2 years we have paid $300 to other teams. For the Columbia boats, in winter the students help with repairs in the off season (as well as playing snow football).

Do sailors need to know how to swim?

Yes. It is recommended that the sailor should be able to swim 50 yards, be able to swim under-water at least 5 foot deep and be able to swim while wearing a life jacket. There are some life jackets available for the students but most prefer having their own.

Is there other travel involved?

The regattas may be held in Chicago, Lake Forest, Milwaukee, Travers City, Detroit and Minnesota.  During our first year of competition, we sailed only at the regattas held in Illinois. For the last 2 years we also competed at Culver Academy in Indiana which is a qualifying regatta for the national championships. The school put the sailors up and fed them royally as well as providing evening entertainment. Parents went as chaperones and stayed with the students overnight. Last fall we also traveled to Lake Geneva where the girls bunked at the condo of a grandparent and the boys shared a room at a hotel. Again, the students had parent chaperones. We encourage parents to travel with the team. This activity requires VIRTUS training.

This past season was outstanding with three of our sailors competing in the Great Oaks, High School National Regatta in New Orleansand three in the Junior Olympics at the US National Sailing Center in Miami. For these events, the individual athletes parents were responsible for transportation, lodging and fees associated with the events.

Do parents need to be involved?

For all parent-run club sport program (Sailing, Hockey, and others) parental involvement is crucial! Carpools, cheering sailors on at regattas, helping promote the sailing program, spirit wear, treasury and all the other parent jobs that are involved in all aspects of our children’s activities continue.

  • © Mother McAuley Liberal Arts H.S.
  • 3737 W. 99th Street
  • Chicago, IL 60655
  • Phone 773.881.6500
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