Most universities that are located near large bodies of water have a single sailing facility which serves multiple functions. These usually include sailing instruction, recreational sailing, and intercollegiate competitive sailing. Up until about 1970, this was the case at U.C. Berkeley. A single organization served all the sailing-related needs of the University community. But at that time the U.C. Racing Team, the U.C. Physical Education Department’s sailing classes, and the Cal Sailing Club split into three separate organizations, each using their own equipment and located miles apart.
This split was due largely to the rigorous environmental conditions that prevail on San Francisco Bay. The Bay is famous for its strong sailing breezes – but these conditions, along with cold water, steep waves, and dense fog, place unusually stringent requirements on both instructional standards and on boat maintenance procedures. Friction inevitably developed between the Racing Team, which needed their boats in top competitive condition, the U.C. Sailing Classes, which consistently damaged boats during instruction but had insufficient resources to maintain them, and the U.C. Yacht CLub, as it was then called, which had volunteers to maintain the fleet but was primarily interested in recreational sailing.
So the Racing Team went to Richmond Yacht Club with their best racing boats, the U.C. sailing Classes went to Aquatic Park where they rented smaller boats from a dealer there, and the U.C.Y.C. was transformed into the Cal Sailing CLub. The Cal Sailing Club (CSC) became an independent, non-profit corporation, and took over ownership of eight 14-foot boats and three 22-foot boats, among others. Within a year or two, as the Berkeley Marina neared completion, CSC moved from the old location near the Berkeley Yacht Club to the present site at the South Sailing Basin. Three berths for the larger boats were provided on the newly-completed J-dock. In 1974, a small building was designed and built by club members to supplement the maintenance shed provided by the City.
Between 1970 and 1979, CSC’s membership was limited to students, faculty, and former students of any U.C. campus. It was felt at the time that the predominantly student character of the membership had to be maintained in order to qualify as a Student Activity, and to be included under U.C.’s blanket insurance coverage. Even so, non-U.C. affiliated people were unofficially encouraged to join anyway. Membership peaked at 300 to 350 members during these years, probably about two-thirds of them students. Dues gradually increased from $12.50/quarter to $25/quarter. A full program of instructional, recreational, and low-key competitive sailing was offered, not unlike the present operation. Little if any subsidy was received from either the U.C. or the A.S.U.C.
In 1979, several events combined to prompt a major change in the Cal Sailing Club:
- Many members were expressing interest in drawing on the public at large for membership. This was partly due to the feeling that non-student members often stayed in the Club longer and generally had more time to devote to volunteer teaching, maintenance, etc.
- The Berkeley Marina required proof of substantial insurance coverage.
- It was determined that CSC was probably not covered by U.C.’s insurance.
- The University began to proceed with plans to re-establish a consolidated sailing facility at the Berkeley Marina.