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Super Sail Sunday at Cal Sailing Club

Super Bowl Sunday turned out disappointing for the Bay Area, but it did turn out to be a super day for sailing on the Bay. We stopped by the Cal Sailing Club Sunday afternoon and found the place bustling with sailors old and new. Looking out from the docks we saw a fleet of the club’s small boats out racing, windsurfers launching from the docks, and boats being dropped in from the hoist. The clubhouse was active with members and prospective members looking to sign up to sail.

Cal Sailing Club races
Sunday dinghy racing was going on out in a gentle breeze.
© 2024 John

Whenever we’re faced with people telling us that sailing is a rich man’s sport, we’re quick to point out that’s a choice but not a requirement. Most sailors sail for free on other people’s boats and others can join the Cal Sailing Club in Berkeley for $120 and sail every day for three months — free lessons, racing and Bay cruises included. They can continue to sail for free if they’re willing to volunteer and earn time to sail on the club’s many available small boats and keelboats.

New member
A prospective member was down checking out the action and picking up a copy of Latitude 38.
© 2024 John

We spoke with Cal Sailing Club volunteer Josh Smith, who was on the safety boat for the day while enthusiastically extolling the virtues of the club’s ability to make sailing accessible to more people. There is lots of big-boat sailing on the Bay, but we’re keenly aware of our own and many other local sailors’ roots in small-boat sailing. The Cal Sailing Club stands out as an exceptional program with a 50+-year history.

Enthusiastic volunteer Josh Smith was helping welcome members and was on hand to staff the safety boat if needed.
© 2024 John

While we were talking with Josh and looking out at the small-boat fleet racing on the Bay, a senior from UC Berkeley came down saying he’d heard about the club and was interested in learning to sail. It’s a frequent occurrence, and “Welcome!” is the message for him and all others who are curious to learn more about sailing.

Cal Sailing Club hoist
The hoist was busy launching and retrieving boats.
© 2024 John

The Cal Sailing Club has monthly open houses in the spring, summer and early fall to help promote their free and inexpensive sailing lessons and membership. It’s a friendly, welcoming place for newcomers to stick their toe in the water and quickly get acclimated to the world of sailing.

Cal Sailing Club RS Quests
There were many boats on the water and still more RS Quests, sailboards and other boats available for members to take out.
© 2024 John
Cal Sailing Club docks
The docks were busy with folks rigging up sailing dinghies and sailboards.
© 2024 John

Whenever you find folks saying sailing is only a rich man’s sport you can remind them of the Cal Sailing Club. Sailing can be far cheaper than the $1421 for an all-day private ski lesson at Northstar, or attending a Super Bowl game. There’s no doubt you can spend a lot of money on sailing, but organizations like the Cal Sailing Club make sure that money is not an impediment to sailing. Anyone can have a super day sailing at the Cal Sailing Club.

By the way, there are numerous other great community (and youth) sailing programs up and down the coast. When in doubt, check them out!


  1. Linda Newland 3 months ago

    Cal Sailing deserves a lot of credit for carrying on a great tradition of inclusive sailing for everyone who has a curiosity that may lead to a lifelong love affair. It’s apparent many young people are taking up small boat sailing as larger boats may be too expensive or maybe not wanted at all! Just go sailing!

  2. W. M. 3 months ago

    Joining Cal Sailing was one of the most productive events of my time in Berkeley. I met many terrific people from all walks of life and shared many local sailing adventures over the years. Cal Sailing led me to Bay racing, ocean racing, long distance blue water trips and directed the (non-sailing) path for the rest of my life. I’ll admit my heart was in my throat the first time I approached “the shed” but that quickly disappeared thanks to great folks.

  3. Mary Lovely 3 months ago

    When I came to San Francisco in 1982 from Seattle I wanted to take up sailing. A roommate directed me to Cal Saling Club. It was also warmer in Berkeley. I went there most weekends and developed an active, fun group of friends and tackled essential sailing skills. This was my start to a lifetime of bay racing, ocean racing and international cruising. I’m glad others are still enjoying this welcoming club.

  4. Memo Gidley 3 months ago

    Awesome job Cal Sailing!

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