Where we celebrate our awesome volunteers.

Volunteer spotlight: Ryan Alder

ryan alder
 
You may know Ryan Alder from the dinghy repair clinics that he started with Memo a couple of weeks ago, or because you bought one of his cool CSC T-shirts, hats or sweaters. You may know Ryan from a dinghy lesson, from open house, from a blog post even, or simply because he is one of the familiar faces that is often at the club. It is sometimes brought up that it is not always easy to be a new member of our CSC community: you arrive at the club, you don't know anyone and most of the time, not much about sailing nor how the club works. We all remember those dark days... But some members make a point to recognize newbies and to be encouraging from one week of lessons to the other. When I started sailing at CSC three years ago, Ryan was one of those members. That helped me know when I could consider getting tested for junior. Since then, he became a senior skipper and has helped many others to get at these difficult tests.
 
On top of that, Ryan is also Third-Vice Commodore at the club executive committee. This means that in addition to numerous meetings, he is in charge of our fleet of six keelboats, which he recently update with a J80 keelboat, a performant racer that could very well take the club keelboat practice to the next level!
 
Ryan grew up on motor boats in the Midwest and started sailing CSC six years ago. He now lives on his 30 footer, Kakelekele, in the Berkeley marina. Another excuse to be at (or at least stop by) CSC almost every day!
 
What made you start sailing?
"Having grown up on/near water I got sick of looking at this beautiful bay and started trying to figure out a way to get out on it and enjoy it. Most options were cost-prohibative until I finally found CSC."
 
What do you like about sailing in general and the club in particular?
"I fell in love with sailing because it is both a physical and mental challenge, and there is always more to learn. Whatever stage you're at, there is something new to strive towards or improve upon."
"And I love the club because there are so many people that care about and give so much to the club. We make some of the best sailors in the bay, which is one of the most challenging places to sail in the world, and we do it all at virtually no cost to anyone. Because we all share and believe in what we do. I heard tale of someone writing a paper on the club for a sociology or economics class, and the teacher didn't believe them and thought they made it up because 'there's no way that would work in the real world'. But here we are after 50-80 years (depending on who you talk to), still doing it."
 
What's your best memory at the club?

"Hmm this is a hard one, there are so many. The one that stands out right now is from this past summer. James led a dinghy camping cruise to Angel Island, which is a logistical feat in itself, and everyone had a blast. The next day we all made a gate run before heading back. The fog came in pretty thick on the way and there was some discussion on if we were still going to do it. After careful consideration we decided to go for it and make sure to stay in close visual contact. After crossing under the bridge (which we could barely see in the fog) and turning back downwind, we all hoisted the gennekers. Seeing absolutely nothing except fog and all 4 ventures in close proximity flying kites downwind will be one of the most beautiful and awesome experiences I'll ever have."

More about this adventure in Pan Pan from Seamus.
 
Any sailing dreams?
"My ultimate dream is to sail the Carribean or the Meditteranean.  Good wind, beautiful weather, warm water.  Although if I do I'm pretty sure I'll never come back."
 
What advice/recommendation would you give to a new club member?

"Talk to people. Ask sailing and windsurfing questions. This is, even more than sailing, a social club. Progress gets much easier when you start to get to know some people. Come hang out even if you don't intend to go sailing, especially on a weekend when the clubhouse deck is full of bench sailors. Beyond that: sail, sail, sail. Don't worry about specific skills. It's all about time at the tiller in increasingly challenging conditions. When you start just having fun in higher and higher winds, all the other stuff gets easy."

 
Could you give us more detail about your role as Third Vice Commodore of our club?

"As 3rd vice I'm in charge of the keelboat fleet. We have a small handful of amazing people that handle most of the maintenance of the boats, namely Greg and Sheldon (and Peter for the motors). So honestly, thanks to them, my role is fairly easy. I mostly manage the keelboat budget and try to make sure they have the resources and support to do what they do best."

 

Thanks to Ryan and all the CSC volunteers that make our club the way it is, a fantastic place to learn sailing and windsurfing and an amazing community.

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Volunteer Spotlight: Stel Lababy

Volunteer Spotlight: Stel Lababy

Cal Sailing Club's explosive financial growth is entirely due to the passionate leadership of our Treasurer, Stel Lababy, who shared a few insights.

Have you always sought leadership roles?

Oh goodness yes!  Even as a puppy I led my team in teat-chewing and runt-killing.  I was always at the front of the pack harassing the pigs on the farm where I grew up.

What shaped your passion for leadership?

Adversity.  When the farm's meth lab blew up, I had to refocus and map out my career goals again, putting in long hours as a rescue dog, then as a lowly family dog, before realizing my passion to succeed as CFO at CSC.

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Tony To
Fav Volunteer Spotlight by far. Stella FTW!
Tuesday, 24 February 2015 02:22
Michael Sherrell
Surprisingly obscenity-free.
Tuesday, 24 February 2015 07:12
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Volunteer Spotlight: John Bongiovanni

        In an era perma-jacked to the information mainline, where your phone can think, where apps get you laid, and where the hive mind sees everything you do from a dingy room in Utah, the Cal Sailing Club is a bastion of the if-it-aint-broke-don’t-fix-it mentality. We fear change on an institutional level, and nowhere is this more apparent than our presence on the internet. The club built a website only in 2009, and up until recently it had that retro DOS look you could imagine Mathew Broderick mistakenly launching a nuclear weapon from. In the past year, however, the site has undergone not one but two cyber makeovers: it now glistens with a slick sheen, flaunting an intuitive layout and drop down menus which ooze e-credibility.  

        Like most large CSC undertakings, the push to modernize the form and function of the club’s virtual façade arose from the concerted effort of a few key players. One of the largest contributions came from member John Bongiovanni, a fairly recent addition to the club who, along with working on the website, has put in an astronomical amount of time volunteering in other ways. For his valiant efforts John “Goodjohn,” as his name works out in Italian pseudo-translation, was awarded a lifetime membership at the latest GMM. I ventured down to the club this past Saturday to talk with John. True to form, he was skippering the only boat out for lessons. I managed to corner him as he came in, and we sat down to discuss his life, his work on the website, and his time at the club.

 

Young John Heeds the Call of The Wind

        John began sailing in the mid ‘80s at none other than the only club in the world which can even start to begin to want to think of itself nearly half as cool as CSC: Community Boating in Boston.  He recalls that the club operated along similar lines to our own, where members teach members, and cut his teeth sailing their Mercury 15s on the Charles River. Upon moving to the San Fransisco Bay, he expanded his sailing palette. He began renting lasers from a club at Shoreline Park, and would venture up to Sausalito to sail keelboats with Dave Garrett’s ASA certified program. He began flirtations with cruising, chartering a boat in Southern California to sail to Catalina, and doing many overnight voyages around the bay.

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Michael Sherrell
John, you're blessed to have a Boswell of Antony's talent. Only Krusty compares. The club is thrice-blessed.
Tuesday, 10 February 2015 06:53
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Volunteer Spotlight: Michael Sherrell

Volunteer Spotlight: Michael Sherrell

[Photo courtesy of Seamus Vaneckohttps://www.seamusvanecko.com/gallery/sailors/]

Have you ever taken a dinghy lesson at Cal Sailing? Then chances are you have met Michael "Mike" Sherrell. He has been teaching lessons every Monday, Thursday, and Saturday for as long as I can remember. On innumerable occasions, he has saved the day, being the only instructor to show up. And as many club members can attest to, Mike is very serious about learning as much as he can about sailing, and then passing that knowledge on to his  students. 

Mike is a Berkeley native who, after retiring from biotech-related business, has the luxury of splitting his free time between sailing and his other passion, horses. In fact, he has four of them, and loves to go camping out with them. If you haven't seen him around the club recently, it's because he just got back from an epic camping trip in Oregon and Utah.

Mike was kind enough to answer some questions about sailing and his dedication to CSC

When did you start to sail, and what convinced you to try it out?

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Volunteer Spotlight: Steve Burchik

If you are looking for Steve Burchik on a Wednesday evening, chances are that you'll find him down on J-dock, getting ready to teach keelboat lessons for the Cal Sailing Club (CSC). He's also a regular volunteer for the Open House and Youth Ride events.

Steve moved to the Bay area in 1978 for a job, and hasn't left since. Apart from his dedication to helping out at CSC, he is known for promoting the use of safety whistles: during a keelboat study group class, he brought a shopping bag full of plastic whistles to distribute among aspiring senior skippers. Steve especially values the diversity and depth among the ranks of CSC members.

He took a break from the tiller to answer a few of our questions:

How did you hear about CSC and when did you join?

I first heard about CSC from my son.  He suggested a family picnic in Berkeley and had heard about the Open House.  He thought I might enjoy an opportunity to go sailing.  I had an exhilarating sail in a dinghy, got soaking wet and immediately walked over to the club house and signed up in April 2007. During my first year of sailing, I kept a simple log each time I went sailing.  I just checked it to confirm the dates and was surprised to see that Todd Price was the Skipper on my introductory sail.  Our paths would cross many times in the ensuing years.

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Volunteer Spotlight: Mitsu

“Windy, Windy!” It’s become a common saying at CSC and in the South Sailing Basin, and Mitsu is the one to thank for coining the phrase. One of our most well-known club windsurfers in the South Sailing Basin, he is notorious for his Mitsu-isms. 

Need to know the current conditions? “Windy, Windy!”

Need advice on about how to improve as a windsurfer? “Complain, complain, no plane!”

Want to know how to live longer? “Eat more chicken wings.”

Mitsu’s secret to windsurfing? "I have experience!"

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Cyril Drame
2h teaching
Sunday, 19 June 2016 15:34
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Volunteer Spotlight: Sheldon Coad

Sheldon Coad has been a Cruising Skipper at CSC for 2 or 3 years now, being a modest guy, he doesn’t pay much attention to stuff like that. He is the tall, slender, gray haired, gentlemanly fellow often seen around CSC attending to all kinds of boat issues and generally making order out of disorder. Sheldon is retired now and CSC has enriched his life in myriad ways, so he is always happy to give back to the club by giving keelboat lessons, offering cruises around the Bay, as well as showing you how to repair winches and paint fences if needed.

When did you join CSC?

I joined in 2003, so I’ve been a member for about 10 ½ years now.

Have you been a member all that time or did the club kind of “grow on you”?

The whole time. I was a slow-rising student due to a shoulder injury. After getting my Junior in about 2 months, I was a Junior for several years and a Senior for a couple of years, until I got my Cruising Skipper rating. I learned to sail at CSC and learned more in 3 lessons than I did at one semester of a college P.E. sailing course. I was interested in sailing for a long time, but could never figure out how to do it. I was discouraged by the huge expense and time involved, until I found CSC. Some people buy a boat and then join CSC because it is such a good deal. We have the best price most likely in the world for all we offer. If people would only stick with it, CSC turns out some pretty good sailors and it doesn’t hurt that SF Bay is one of the premier sailing places in the world.

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Volunteer Spotlight: Kim Nguyen

Kim Nguyen is one of Cal Sailing Club's (CSC) most dedicated volunteer dinghy instructors. If you've ever been down for Saturday morning lessons, you're bound to have run into him. Prior to getting his Junior rating, Kim helped out the club by keeping everything clean and working the dock at Open Houses. 

Kim first moved to the Bay Area in 1975, but spent stints in Alaska, Montreal, and Seattle before permanently establishing his roots in El Cerrito in 1987. He joined CSC in 2008. When not sailing or working, he enjoys reading, especially history, math, and stuff about boating. Kim was kind enough to take time to answer a few of our questions: 

How did you hear about CSC, and when did you join?

I accidentally walked into one of the open houses back in August of 2008. I did not have a chance to go on the boat ride, but I signed on to become a member on that date. 

What is your favorite boat to sail?

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Recent Comments
Stefano Maffulli
I think we need pictures for this series
Tuesday, 04 March 2014 21:40
Peter /"Margaret"/ Kuhn
Here are more quotes about Kim: "He's awesome, he does so many lessons, and they're real long, not short like [name deleted]. The... Read More
Friday, 14 March 2014 09:31
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