October 2007

ASU Sailing Club

Promotes The Sport For All Ability Levels

ASU Sailing has an all-encompassing mission statement:[Our mission is] to promote sailing and sailing education for people of all abilities within the greater Arizona State University community and to develop personal leadership skills and team building skills through the sport of sailing for everyone regardless of ability.

“Our vision is to see people empowered through sportsmanship to become leaders with strong character development in their communities.”

In essence, ASU Sailing strives to “Conquer Personal Challenges, Serve Others and Lead with a Positive Influence.”

Sailing For Everyone

As many Arizonans know, sailing is a sport and form of recreation for everyone. The ASU Sailing Club provides a venue for able-bodied and people with disabilities to be a part of a team and an empowered community.

The club uses bio-technology to remove boundaries for anyone participating in the sport and is, therefore, inclusive of all who want to sail either for fun or competitively — or both. The thus integrated community allows all who wish to conquer challenges and reach their maximum potential.

The ASU Sailing Club offers sailing classes that are taught by American Sailing Association-certified instructors and can certify students in Basic Small Boat Sailing. The sport is an activity and skill set that can be used on the water competitively or recreationally.

Tempe Town Lake and Lake Pleasant are the sites for local training and sailing events. Club participants sail Club FJs and a Martin 16.

The ASU Sailing Club is involved in community-based regattas, as well as intercollegiate competitions in the Pacific Coast Collegiate Sailing Conference (PCCSC).

A Level Playing Field

The sport of sailing is an ideal catalyst for bringing together members of a community. Although those with disabilities can often be forgotten in a community, sailing fosters connections that include minorities, high-risk youth, and those with disabilities.

As one member put it, “The key here is that no one wants to be sidelined into ‘special’ or ‘only’ programs. Consequently, our boats use technology that levels the playing field for everyone, so a person of any ability can sail with or next to a friend or family member equally!”

Accessible Boats

The ASU program utilizes small boats that are sailed by one to four people on Tempe Town Lake. Larger team boats are used at Lake Pleasant for racing and cruising.

 There are boats that are accessible to accommodate almost any need. Some are specifically designed so that a person sits low inside the boat instead of leaning over the side. This allows even people with special needs to sail the craft alone with training.
Several aspects of the design include —

  • ballasted centerboard or keel, ensuring that the boat will not capsize;
  • a hull design that promotes stability and responsiveness, and
  • adaptive technology that can be controlled by any moving body part, which allows people with profound needs to sail their own boats.

Exhibition Days

The ASU Sailing Club has exhibition days, which are a great way of getting started and having fun. They also offer basic sail training and individualized sailing, and one can participate in the exhibition days at almost no cost.


The principles of sailing parallel personal leadership principles. As stated by the ASU club, “The boat becomes a ‘hands-on’ lab. Learning decision making in the boat relates to principles of navigating the winds of change in the marketplace of life.

“The helmsman must read the direction of wind, chart a course, and trim the sails to use the force of the wind to efficiently get to one's desired destination. Likewise, teamwork is another essential element in today's world. Whether one agrees with the helmsman or not, communication and cooperation are critical to the success of the team.”

People And Places

Volunteers, friends, and family members are actively involved and supportive. They help with such vital parts of the program as —

  • sail training,
  • making adaptive modifications to the boats,
  • program management, and
  • assisting participants with disabilities.

Events are held during the spring and fall sailing seasons at Tempe Town Lake and Lake Pleasant where there is wheelchair accessibility and restrooms.