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Scuttlebutt News:
College Sailing - SCU goes from rags to riches

(December 7, 2007) When you sail collegiately in California, the events are all BYOB, as in Bring Your Own Boat. But when you are a newly recognized team, and the only boat you have is a beater Flying Junior, you are not quite in the game. That was the situation of Santa Clara University, which despite being California's oldest-operating institution of higher education, saw its sailing club in only its second year as a recognized club sport at the school, and it was painfully under-equipped.

Based in Redwood City, the SCU team had been surviving by borrowing boats from the neighboring Peninsula Youth Sailing Foundation and Stanford University. However, that was before alumni Jim Diepenbrock heard of their situation. “When I found out that SCU now has a sailing club, and that they actually had to borrow Sanford’s hand-me-downs for practice,” said Diepenbrock. “A light bulb went off.” Diepenbrock, a third-generation SCU graduate along with all four of his siblings, presented the team with two brand-new, 13-foot college racing sailboats. The donation was made through the R. James Diepenbrock Foundation in honor of Jim’s father, a man who was “passionate about sailing and about Santa Clara University.”

Thrilled are the 18 members of the University’s Sailing Club, who now no longer need to rent sailboats when they compete in college regattas along the West Coast. Practicing, too, will now be much more efficient. “Since the club only had one older boat, we couldn’t really practice against each other unless we borrowed other boats,” said sophomore Marianne Wallis, team captain.

Even with such limitations, the SCU club has slowly been making a name for itself in the Pacific Coast Collegiate Sailing Conference. Last year, for the first time, the team qualified for the West Coast Championships in Hawaii, a significant achievement, considering the competition from UC Berkeley and other powerhouse sailing clubs. “We have a very young team, but it’s a dedicated and talented bunch,” said John Farnsworth, club advisor. “In a year or two, we’re going to be a serious contender.”

The two new sailboats are sleek, two-person CFJs (Club Flying Junior), used in college sailboat racing. Total value of the boats is about $13,000, according to Farnsworth, who worked with Diepenbrock on the donation after a chance encounter at the St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco.

SCU’s Sailing Club has also viewed much of the coast from the decks of their boats. The day after they received Diepenbrock’s donation on Oct. 26, team members hitched up one of the new boats and took it on the road to a regatta in Santa Barbara (where they finished fifth out of a field of 23 colleges).

But, nobody is complaining. Although most of the team members are freshmen and sophomores, Wallis said they’ve been sailing for years and understand the monetary and personal commitment involved. “We’re a very competitive racing team, going up against varsity-ranked teams like Stanford and USC,” she explained. “Some have never heard of us, but it won’t be long before they do.”

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