BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON THE CAL SAILING CLUB by Paul Kamen, former CSC Commodore March 29, 1995 History: 1970 to 1989 Most universities that are located near large bodies of water have a single sailing facility which serves multiple functions. These usually include sailing instruction, recreational sailing, and intercollegiate competitive sailing. Up until about 1970, this was the case at U.C. Berkeley. A single organization served all the sailing-related needs of the University community. But at that time the U.C. Racing Team, the U.C. Physical Education Department's sailing classes, and the Cal Sailing Club split into three separate organizations, each using their own equipment and located miles apart. This split was due largely to the rigorous environmental conditions that prevail on San Francisco Bay. The Bay is famous for its strong sailing breezes - but these conditions, along with cold water, steep waves, and dense fog, place unusually stringent requirements on both instructional standards and on boat maintenance procedures. Friction inevitably developed between the Racing Team, which needed their boats in top competitive condition, the U.C. Sailing Classes, which consistently damaged boats during instruction but had insufficient resources to maintain them, and the U.C. Yacht CLub, as it was then called, which had volunteers to maintain the fleet but was primarily interested in recreational sailing. So the Racing Team went to Richmond Yacht Club with their best racing boats, the U.C. sailing Classes went to Aquatic Park where they rented smaller boats from a dealer there, and the U.C.Y.C. was transformed into the Cal Sailing CLub. The Cal Sailing Club (CSC) became an independent, non-profit corporation, and took over ownership of eight 14-foot boats and three 22-foot boats, among others. Within a year or two, as the Berkeley Marina neared completion, CSC moved from the old location near the Berkeley Yacht Club to the present site at the South Sailing Basin. Three berths for the larger boats were provided on the newly-completed J-dock. In 1974, a small building was designed and built by club members to supplement the maintenance shed provided by the City. Between 1970 and 1979, CSC's membership was limited to students, faculty, and former students of any U.C. campus. It was felt at the time that the predominantly student character of the membership had to be maintained in order to qualify as a Student Activity, and to be included under U.C.'s blanket insurance coverage. Even so, non-U.C. affiliated people were unofficially encouraged to join anyway. Membership peaked at 300 to 350 members during these years, probably about two-thirds of them students. Dues gradually increased from $12.50/quarter to $25/quarter. A full program of instructional, recreational, and low-key competitive sailing was offered, not unlike the present operation. Little if any subsidy was received from either the U.C. or the A.S.U.C. In 1979, several events combined to prompt a major change in the Cal Sailing Club: 1) Many members were expressing interest in drawing on the public at large for membership. This was partly due to the feeling that non-student members often stayed in the Club longer and generally had more time to devote to volunteer teaching, maintenance, etc. 2) The Berkeley Marina required proof of substantial insurance coverage. 3) It was determined that CSC was probably not covered by U.C.'s insurance. 4) The University began to proceed with plans to re-establish a consolidated sailing facility at the Berkeley Marina. Item 4 was a particularly strong motivator. Early proposals by U.C. suggested that CSC would come under the control of U.C.'s Department of Intramural Sports and Recreation, which would have resulted in the loss of nearly all of CSC's autonomy, along with ownership of the boats and much of its character as a volunteer- based organization. CSC opted to remain independent. The result was that CSC found its own insurance and opened its doors to the public on an official basis. Dues were increased to $35 for a three month membership to cover the additional insurance costs (although U.C. students were still allowed a $5 discount). U.C.'s plans eventually took the form of a sailing school operated by Cal Adventures, located on a site leased by the university adjacent to the Cal Sailing Club. The U.C. Racing Team shared the Cal Adventures site until 1994, when they moved to Encinal Yacht Club on the Oakland Estuary. The Cal Adventures program differs from CSC's in that it has paid staff and is almost exclusively oriented towards instruction. It is somewhat better organized and significantly more expensive. Participation appears to be predominantly U.C. students, and opportunities for recreational sailing outside of scheduled classes are limited. Relations between the two organizations have been good. The redundant rescue facilities have proved to be extremely valuable, and the leases have designated dock and hoist usage so as to minimize overcrowding of these facilities. Early fears of competition proved to be unjustified - the market for inexpensive sailing opportunities is far larger than both groups could ever handle. Unquestionably, the public is better served by having the two organizations to choose from. The next five years (1979-1984) saw a steady stream of major improvements to CSC, with a significant increase in membership. The boat storage area was paved and fenced, which reduced the theft problem and allowed the use of better trailers. CSC's fleet of boats was expanded to include a 26-foot cruising sailboat and approximately 10 sailboards or windsurfers, as well as a variety of high-performance dinghies. Membership in 1983 reached a high of about 670, probably about one-third student. In 1982, the Cal Sailing Club was granted tax-exempt status under IRC section 501-C(3) as and educational organization. By 1984, the eight 14-foot boats used for most of CSC's instructional activities were nearing the end of their useful life. Built in 1958 and 1962, they had been used continuously under extremely rigorous conditions, and it was determined that they could not withstand even one more re-build. By borrowing from Club members under terms very favorable to CSC, the Club was able to purchase a fleet of eight new boats custom built to CSC specifications and then heavily modified by members' volunteer labor. Dues were increased again to $40 for a three month membership, with the $5 discount now extended to seniors and minors as well as U.C. students. By 1988, the number of sailboards owned by the Club had increased to approximately 20, and during the summer approximately half of CSC's activity is devoted to windsurfing. A new storage locker for sailboard equipment was acquired, and a new commercial- quality rescue skiff was purchased. Typical membership level is about 500 during summer months, and 150 during the winter. The dues remain at $40, with $5 discounts available. As of this writing in March of 1995, dues are $45 for a regular all-inclusive 3-month membership, with a $5 discount for students and seniors. CSC acquired a second 26-ft. keelboat, and plans are underway to replace the Lido 14 fleet in the next few years. Membership levels are approximately similar to the 1988 estimates. How do we do it? One of the Cal Sailing Club's most important features is that all services and activities are free to members. The $45 membership fee covers three months of unlimited lessons and unlimited recreational daysailing, racing, cruising, and windsurfing. There is no hourly charge for boat use. There are also provisions for earning free memberships in return for contributing more than the usual amount of volunteer work. The Cal Sailing Club is by far the least expensive way for the non-boat owner to gain access to sailing on San Francisco Bay. Obviously this would all be impossible without heavy reliance on volunteer power. CSC could never afford paid staff (beyond the students with subsidized work-study grants) and still keep the cost so low. Professional maintenance work is out of the question. Nearly all of the maintenance work on CSC boats and equipment - which is very considerable in view of the demanding environment in which CSC operates - is performed by volunteer members. For this and other reasons, the cooperative structure seems to have inherent advantages over commercial boat rental or sailing school operations. The rigorous sailing conditions on San Francisco Bay all but rule out low cost public sailboat rental, because of the time required for users to achieve the necessary skill level, and the high costs of insurance and maintenance associated with rental sailboats. (Sailboard rentals, however, are quite feasible, due to their low cost and inherent safety - and natural self-screening of the renter's skill level. Rowboat rentals might also be a possibility, and could be especially valuable in serving the person who has only a very occasional interest in getting out on the water.) Community Service In addition to providing low cost, high quality recreational sailing opportunities for a very large number of people, the Cal Sailing Club also provides some more specific community services. During "Open House" days, the general public is invited to come out for a free introductory sail. Although this is one of the Club's primary methods of obtaining new members, many people who have no intention of joining - who just want a one-time sail on the Bay - are gladly accommodated. Open house days are usually held on the first weekend of each month, and are publicized through local newspaper and radio media. Special Open House hours are also held to correspond to Marina-related City events, such as the annual Berkeley Bay Festival. Literally thousands of people have experienced sailing on San Francisco Bay for free at a CSC Open House. CSC has also made its larger boats, along with a qualified volunteer skipper, available for use by groups of youth from local day camps, schools, and recreation centers. The "Berkeley Trekkers" in particular have been out on CSC's boats on a regular basis. Other groups from Berkeley and Oakland have taken advantage of this opportunity on many occasions. The members of the Cal Sailing Club believe that their organization is an outstanding example of how a "private" use can greatly enhance public access. Could any format other than a publicly accessible cooperative provide so much service at so little cost to the City or to the user? Summary of Current Status and Future Prospects: The combination of good planning and a series of private boat donations in the late 1980s which the Club has been able to turn into cash, and some funds from the estate of a long-time member (who died after a long illness - no he didn't drown) have all contributed to a satisfactory liquidity situation. As of this writing in March 1995, after a particularly wet winter, CSC is operating at a small deficit. The donations and the inherited funds were short-term windfalls, for planning purposes. CSC is also faced with some potentially serious long-term problems. The shortage of federal work-study grants may curtail (or increase the cost of) the use of students with work-study allocations to help keep the Club open and operating during all scheduled hours. Shoaling of the South Sailing Basin has also begun to restrict operating hours for some of our boats during winter months (when tides are more extreme), and this has been reflected in reduced winter membership levels. In the next five to ten years, continued shoaling may have a significant impact on operational hours during summer months as well. The high cost of dredging is recognized, but it would be very much in the interest of public recreation to include a small portion of the South Sailing Basin in the next marina dredging project. The Cal Sailing Club owes its existence to the use of City property at a cost far below market rate. It is hoped that this relationship will continue, and that future waterfront development projects will include designations of significant additional sites for new organizations similar to the Cal Sailing Club.