Harnessing the Wind: Oswego State Sailing

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Claire Wyngaard ’87 has fond memories of sailing with the Oswego State Sailing Club and Racing Team. SUNY Oswego students sailed on the weekends, using sailboats borrowed from Oswego High School and kept at the Oswego Maritime Foundation.

Liability insurance requirements dictated that all students first take a dunk in the lake with a life jacket as well as sail within the breakwall, said Wyngaard, who served as the club’s Commodore in 1986 and 1987.

“We longed to go outside the wall until we realized we had plenty of room to sail and liked being in sight of each other,” said Wyngaard, who has translated her love of sailing into a career as public affairs officer at Boat Owners Association of the United States (BoatU.S.) in Alexandria, Va.

“We squeezed as much sailing as possible into the nice September and October weather,” she said. “After we put the boats away for the winter, we watched educational videos, reminisced about racing and practiced our knots.”

OMF President Captain J. Richard Pfund, emeritus professor of technology, kept students motivated as the snow fell. They would compete against other college teams at West Point, colleges on the Finger Lakes and in the Long Island Corinthian Yacht Club race on Archangel, a 37-foot wooden yacht offered by its owner for the students to use at no charge to contribute to young sailors’ experience.

“Just that one [Long Island] trip took all weekend, returning us exhausted but proud of our efforts,” said Wyngaard.

Today, Wyngaard sails on the Chesapeake Bay. She remembers “the view of Lake Ontario in all its moods from the 6th Floor of Seneca Hall”—and the friendships forged while capturing its wind.

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