Midshipman Sail Training
Most Saturdays the boats get underway from Elliot Bay Marina to conduct sail training. The purpose of this training is to qualify Midshipmen as Offshore Crew, an official Navy qualification that certifies they understand how to safely sail and operate the boats. The Midshipmen, guided by the sailing coaches and their more experienced classmates, learn about navigation, engineering, line handling, sail trimming, nautical rules of the road, and other subjects. This training gives them both hands on experience in the busy waters of the Puget Sound and valuable leadership and teamwork experience that they can take with them to the fleet.
Every year the UW NROTC unit puts together a competitive sailing team that participates in races around the Puget Sound. The team is guided by the sailing coaches, who work on fine tuning their techniques, teaching them racing strategy and tactics, and finding ways to maximize the strengths of the boats and the crew. Racing provides a chance for highly motivated midshipmen to spend some extra time honing their skills and building better teamwork with their fellow team members. The racing team is open to any Midshipman who is interested, the only requirements are dedication and hard work.
Swiftsure International Yacht Race
The Swiftsure race is held annually in Victoria B.C. and the UW NROTC Sail Team has participated every year since 2009. The race course goes out the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the Pacific Ocean, a round trip of over 100NM. The race generally lasts upwards of 24 hours, and the team must work together through demanding night sailing conditions, inclement weather and strong currents that tax even experienced boats. Swiftsure provides the team with an opportunity to test all their skills, and is a rewarding experience for the months of hard work leading up to it.
The Seattle Yacht Club holds an annual celebration for the Opening Day of boating season, which includes a parade of boats that are judged by a committee of yacht club officials. The UW NROTC boats are yearly contenders in the Dressed Sail competition, and frequently take first place in that category. Midshipmen have an opportunity to put on their whites and man the rail for the presentation, once the boats have been cleaned and polished to perfection. This event is a great time for everyone involved, and gives the unit a chance to interface with the public and show them what the UW NROTC program does.
Every quarter the Midshipmen have a chance to go on overnight sailing trips around the Puget Sound. During the quarter there are one night trips to Blake Island or Poulsbo that provide a chance to get out of Seattle for a day. On Spring and Summer break there are longer trips which often take the Midshipmen to the San Juan Islands, Port Townsend, Oak Harbor and others. These trips are a great way for the Midshipmen to practice their sailing skills, explore the local waterways and of course have fun. They also give the Sail Team leadership a chance to plan all the aspects of these trips and then brief their voyage plans to the Commanding Officer, a valuable experience that prepares them for the role of a junior officer in the fleet.
During the summer the Elliot Bay Marina holds a summer racing series in the waters of Elliot Bay. The race course runs along the scenic Seattle waterfront and gives local sailors a chance to race one another in a series of short, fun evening races. Midshipmen who are in the area for the summer act as the crew, and the series is a great chance to practice racing and sailing with a lot of other boats as the races often have over 60 boats in attendance! This series is also a chance for the battalion to take friends, family and VIP’s out on the boats, and includes free hot dogs and beverages at the yacht club after the race giving everyone a chance to relax and enjoy themselves.