Anchors Aweigh: Grant revives Mercyhurst University Sailing Club

Sail boats on the lake

The Mercyhurst Sailing Club, which began in 2016 but has been inactive for the past several years, is about to chart a new course, thanks to a grant from the Erie Yacht Club and sailing enthusiasts at Penn State Behrend.  

The club’s renewal is spearheaded by Mercyhurst junior Moira Sullivan, who with junior Taylor Susman, founded Mercyhurst’s Tall Ship Sailing Club in 2023. They were inspired to continue their appreciation of tall ships after taking History Chair Dr. Ben Scharff’s “Waves of the Future” maritime history course, during which they spent two weeks last summer sailing on the U.S. Brig Niagara. 

But then, this past spring, Sullivan said the coach of the Penn State Behrend Sailing Club, Sharon Dale, reached out to Mercyhurst and offered to help support the more comprehensive sailing club that had originated in 2016. Through the expanded effort, students would be introduced to other sailing vessels and have the opportunity to compete.

According to the grant penned by Sullivan:

“The Penn State Behrend Sailing team and their coaches will be teaching novice Mercyhurst students how to sail beginning in late August through mid-October. Dr. Benjamin Scharff will serve as official faculty advisor, while other Mercyhurst faculty will be present on a rotating basis at the Erie Yacht Club, including Alethea Gaarden, an English professor who worked on the U.S. Brig Niagara, and Daryl Georger, a professor in Hospitality Management who has raced in regattas and has many years of sailing experience... The Tall Ship Sailing Club’s goal of transitioning into the Mercyhurst Sailing Club aligns with the Erie Yacht Club Foundation’s mission of “Supporting youth and intercollegiate sailing competitions.” Sailing was part of the Mercyhurst campus for years, and the art of sailing teaches many life lessons. Having this grant would enable the club to become active once again.”

The $2,100 awarded to Mercyhurst by the Erie Yacht Club will support boat rentals and other start-up costs. The sailing club is currently looking to secure insurance and start competing in regattas beginning Fall 2025. Ultimately, it hopes to grow membership to 10-15 students interested and knowledgeable in sailing.

The club’s efforts have been extensively assisted by Katie Neely, Mercyhurst’s Leadership and Outreach Coordinator.   

(PHOTO courtesy of Dean Zeller)