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Posted 9/3/2013

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By Robert Kidd

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – As the hyper-competitive 2013 America’s Cup is being contested in San Francisco this month, the Sierra Sailing Club will continue boating, laughing and sharing their relaxed approach to sailing at Lake Kaweah, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District park near Lemon Cove.

How laid-back is this inland sailing group? Each and every one of the club’s 45 members is designated as the commodore – so everyone is equally in charge and empowered to invite more sailors to join in the boating fun.

“When we get together, we don’t call it a regatta, but we do get out there and sail the heck out of it,” laughed Commodore Richard Moynahan of Visalia. “And we’re always glad to answer questions about sailing.”

Half a dozen SSC boats can be seen traversing Lake Kaweah on any given Tuesday or Thursday. The club’s fleet includes 41 sailboats ranging from 8 to 25 feet in length and members live as far away as Tehachapi.

The most popular boat in the club (representing about half the fleet) is a 16-foot sea kayak with outriggers, equipped with both a sail and a pedal drive system.

If the wind dies, the little craft can be pedaled back to shore using the power of a pair of gear-driven “seal flippers” underneath the hull, said Moynahan.

Spring offers some of the strongest wind for Lake Kaweah, “but we’ve been lucky all this summer,” said Moynahan.

“Any day with winds of 4 miles per hour or better – we’re good to go,” he said. “We had 8 to 20 mph winds a few days ago, though Internet weather stations in the area were indicating much lower than what we found at lake level.”

Along with being less formal, sailing at Lake Kaweah is also far less expensive than entering a team in the America’s Cup, said Moynahan. A new sailboat and trailer may cost around $5,000 and used boats can sometimes be found for a few hundred dollars “plus some repair work.”

“I’ve been interested in sailing the past 20 years and actually began by sailing radio-controlled models,” said Moynahan. “All of the basics that you learn sailing models transfer to sailing full-size boats.”

The appeal of sailing is rooted in the senses, said Moynahan: “The sound the water makes on the side of the hull, rippling past, and the power in the sail as it pulls you across the lake.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is America’s largest provider of outdoor recreation opportunities on federal public lands, serving more than 350 million visitors annually at 422 lake and river recreation parks in 43 states.

Lake Kaweah recreation sacramento district sailing Sierra Sailing Club U.S. Army Corps of Engineers