After failing to reach agreement, MSU Sailing Club relocating
Founded in the 1940s, MSU Sailing Club faculty adviser John Melcher remembers practicing at the MSU Sailing Center on Lake Lansing in the late 1960s. But recently, the club relocated to the Lansing Sailing Club across the lake.
During a meeting to discuss the guidelines for the use of the center on March 29, 2016, the Sailing Club E-Board and Sports Facility Professional Ken Warshaw, who could not be reached for comment, were unable to reach an agreement resulting in their inability to practice at the center.
“I don’t necessarily agree with the terms that we were given and we made an attempt to negotiate them and that was totally unsuccessful,” co-captain of the club Ryan Geiser said. “So at that point in time, we made the decision that we could use our six boats there (Lansing Sailing Club) in moderate disrepair and our semi-tattered sails, trying to work something out with the Lansing Sailing Center so at least we could get on the water more.”
The dates provided did not work with the times of their fall and spring seasons, vice commodore Pete Atkins said via email. The guidelines also require two employees to be with them at all times, although employees were already on the MSU Sailing Club. This costs $20 per hour for each employee as well as $80 per hour for use of the facility, a $100 fee Geiser said the team could not afford, as they practice twice every week.
Geiser also said the site is self-funded, therefore their income depends on profits made and not the university.
“I value history and don’t want the sailing center subject to things that harm and I don’t want to be blamed for your lack of success or inability to practice,” Warshaw said at the meeting, according to the transcript. “I want to protect the health and future of the sailing center. Using without giving isn’t acceptable because the center doesn’t receive university funds. I’m willing to discuss what you guys want but the guidelines are not up for negotiation.”
The MSU Sailing Club is a competitive group and it competes with other universities in the midwest region at regattas. Members currently use six boats owned by the team stationed at Lansing Sailing Club.
“As much as it is nice to be able to practice on our own terms, our boats are old, our sails are old, it’s just like any other sport, the older your equipment is the harder it is to do well," Geiser said. "So it would be nice if we were able in anyway to use those new boats and new sails, but at this point of time, we’ve kind of set our sights differently because it just never seemed like anything was going to come of this.”
Melcher worked to gain access to the Lansing Sailing Club so the team was able to still launch their boats and practice.
“Being in the Great Lakes and Michigan State University, we should have and look to have one of the premier sailing programs in the region and that's what I think," Melcher said. "That’s really why I want to support the students, I want to support their organization because they are a competitive club.”
Cedarfest, the home regatta held every fall by the team that brings multiple teams to compete, was held at a municipal park on Lake Lansing in fall of 2015 and Lansing Sailing Club in fall of 2016, though they had always been held at the MSU Sailing Center in the past.
“People start asking questions,” Geiser said. “You can see the MSU site from the Lansing Sailing Club so people start asking, ‘Why aren’t we over there, look at ... that nice site that has MSU’s logo right in front.’”
But according to Warshaw's statements at the meeting, there have been 16 Cedarfests and many practices held that he did not charge the team for, negatively impacting the center and the department.
“It reflects poorly on the university only in that it's unusual," Geiser said. "It's not what you'd expect that if the university did have a sailing site, that the club sailing team wouldn’t be using it.”
Melcher, who is also a member of the Lansing Sailing Club, said although the club is happy to help, it is only a temporary solution and members would like to see them back at the MSU site as they don't have room to have them there permanently. Warshaw said the MSU Sailing Center doesn't have room either.
“So what we really have happening is an accommodation for a period of time while we can try to work this out and see if the university might make it a little more accommodating and let the club get access to the times and opportunities it takes to be able to sustain a racing team," Melcher said.