Ryan Davis (AeroEngr’19) of Sugar Land, Texas, has skippered the resurrection of CU’s dormant sailing club. New boats are on the way, and regattas at the Boulder Reservoir are on the horizon.
What’s your favorite part about sailing?
It’s a big mix of just being out in the sun, being on the water, just the wind in your face, you’re making this boat go fast. It’s pretty cool. To make it really, really go fast, it takes some skill.
What’s the most intense sailing experience that you’ve ever had?
I’ve had times when I didn’t think I’d be able to get the boat back in. I was out on a Sunfish, which is a smaller one-person boat, almost like a learner boat. It’s got a big sail, so when the wind really starts to blow and you’re going downwind, there’s not a good way to slow yourself down, so you have to go downwind to get back home and you’re just going to haul doing it. I actually pitchpoled the Sunfish, which is where you drive the bow into the water because the wind is coming from behind you.
So, you flipped it?
I didn’t flip it all the way over . Boats capsize a lot. That’s kind of what they do when you’re in heavy wind. And when it goes over the front, it’s just a scary feeling. It kind of stopped, threw me forward and the boat went over. I didn’t know if I’d be able to get it back up — the sail ended up getting wrapped around the mast. It was a whole storm of problems.
When you got back on dry land, did you decide you needed a break?
Exactly. I was like, ‘Yep, not doing that again for a while.’
How did you hear about the CU sailing team?
I did a lot of research and ended up finding an old Facebook page. I showed up at a meeting, and I was like, ‘Cool, all right, let’s do this.’
Do you have people on the team who have never sailed before?
Yes. It’s a lot of fun. We have one person who had been to one practice before he went to a regatta and we raced with him. It’s really cool how quick you can pick it up.
Tell me about the crowdfunding campaign you did with the university.
Our goal was $17,000, which included new boats from Old Dominion University and Virginia — well, they’re used boats, but new to us — new sails, some miscellaneous fixing costs, just some new rigging and small parts and shipping. We raised $12,650 and so that put us at enough to buy the boats and to cover most of the shipping costs. So, we hit the real goal. We aren’t going to buy new sails just yet and we aren’t going to be able to fix up all the things, but we’ll have better, sailable boats here that are all going to be standard so we can host regattas and races.
What kind of boats are you getting?
They’re called 420s and they’re called that because they’re 4.2 meters long. So, it’s a two-man dinghy with a main sail and a jib.
What does it mean for you to get these new boats?
It means we’ll be able to establish a valid program. Colorado hasn’t been active since 2011 or 2012 in the Southeast
Region, which is the competitive region we’re a part of. A lot of people know that we’re starting up again but don’t really take the Colorado sailing program seriously because we’re just really new, not too organized and we’re also not very good. If we get these new boats here, we can really get organized — I believe we can recruit a lot more, we’ll be able to host our own races, get people on the water, gain the respect of the rest of the region.
Are there any totally unrealistic sailing scenes in movies that make you cringe?
Pirates of the Caribbean. Those boats turn very slowly. And you can't go whichever way you want. You have to go with the wind. It's a lot harder than people might think.
Condensed and edited by Jennifer Osieczanek.
Photo by Glenn Asakawa