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Seeking new blood for an old club

With swift wind, a 14-foot fiberglass sailboat can gather enough speed to fly.

Or a least hydroplane.

“As the wind speed goes up, it’s like riding a motorcycle over the water,” said Ed Hover, the Peninsula Sailing Club’s commodore, or president.

The club, based at the Brownsville Marina, has a mission to provide sailing for a price working families can afford — $75 a year.

“We have scheduled runs, but you can go out when you want. That is one of the things that attracted me to the club,” Hover said.

When the club formed in 1959, members used handmade sailboats, said Jon Johnson, the club’s vice commodore. Today, the club owns six 14-foot Sea Lark sailboats, a windsurfing sail board and a rowboat.

But membership is dwindling, Hover said, and members want to get the word out.

“People tend to matriculate out of the club to larger boats,” said 10-year member Dick Evans. “People come in and learn to sail on the smaller boats, then they decide they have to have their own boats.”

Older members have left the club, Evans added, and not enough people have joined to take their places.

The 10-member club usually meets twice a month to race and discuss business.

Even people who already own boats can benefit from membership, said Johnson, who owns the 25-foot sailboat “Someday.”

“They can take their friends out and they can race each other,” Johnson said.

And learning to sail a modest-sized vessel can give beginning sailors a knack for understanding the elements.

“One of the advantages for younger sailors is smaller boats are harder to sail. They are unforgiving, and wind shifts become obvious immediately. If you learn to sail a small boat you can sail a big boat,” Evans said.

Kids younger than 18 are welcome, Hover said, but they must sail with an adult and have written permission from their parents.

To sail, new club members must prove their expertise on the water and knowledge of safety procedures, Evans said. He suggested that inexperienced sailors accompany other club members to learn the ropes.

In mild weather, an experienced sailor can handle the club’s boats solo, Evans said.

The club can afford to operate with rock-bottom dues because the six vessels are paid for and because the Port of Brownsville offers a discounted moorage rate, members said.

“They do it to promote the port and to promote sailing,” Evans said.

The first event of the season, the so-called Dirty Boat Race, was Saturday, April 20. Members took the boats into the water and inspected them to see what repairs and maintenance were needed, Johnson said. They later cleaned the vessels, which were grimy from wintertime neglect.

Open house

The Peninsula Sailing Club will host an open house from 1-4 p.m. Saturday, May 4, at the Brownsville Marina Yacht Club. Free sailing lessons will be available for those who join the club.

For more information, call Ed Hover at 396-1446 or Jon Johnson at 692-2602.

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