The new Northwestern University Sailing Center is open for summer fun on the Evanston campus.

Just feet from Lake Michigan’s shore on the south side of campus, the $2.5 million project replaces a small wooden building that served as the University’s boathouse since the 1970s.

“It’s a beautiful area and to have this building and to showcase the water we have, it seems like a privilege to me,” said Matthew Zampa, a senior in Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications and a member of the Northwestern sailing team.

The Sailing Center is open to the campus community and the public for lessons, rentals and memberships.

Activities offered at the center include, sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and stand-up paddle boarding yoga. It also is home to Northwestern University’s sailing team, a club sport with 50 to 70 student participants, which competes in the Midwest Collegiate Sailing Association.

“Some other schools have to drive an hour to get to their boathouse and all we have to do is walk to the south side of campus,” said Courtney Peterson, a junior in Northwestern’s School of Communication and a member of the sailing team. “We are lucky to have such great water with so many different conditions to practice on, and now we have a building that really compliments Lake Michigan – and I like having bathrooms, too!”

The old boathouse lacked creature comforts such as bathrooms, a classroom, heat and air conditioning. The new building has all of these amenities, plus changing rooms and lockers. Garage doors, painted purple, offer functionality to the building, making it easy to move equipment in and out and keep sails, boards, paddles and life jackets clean and secure.

Aside from the purple doors, the 5,000-square-foot concrete structure is sand colored and blends in with the beach. It was designed by David Woodhouse Architects. The center officially opened in late June and is expected to have more than 1,000 visitors by the end of summer, said Tadhg Martin, director of the sailing center. Many of these visitors will be children from the Evanston community.

“Our biggest additions in the last 10 years have been our Wildcat summer camps,” Martin said. “We teach 5 to 15 year-olds how to sail and windsurf. The camps are very popular, and now we have the room to grow and give more people the chance to come through our doors and enjoy the lake experience the way it should be — from the water.”

The Sailing Center is located at 1823 Campus Drive (two blocks east of Sheridan Road and Chicago Avenue). Contact the Sailing Center for more information on lessons, membership, camps and more. 

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