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Underwater: Waterski and sailing clubs excluded from new watersports facility

Clemson Sailing Club // Courtesy
Due to logistical facility complications, club sailing and club waterski are no longer included in the new rowing facility being built this semester.

The new club rowing facility that is being built adjacent to the University Facilities Center was originally intended to include club waterski and club sailing, but due to logistical complications, the future of the two teams is uncertain as there are plans that will repurpose their current space.

Last semester, Student Affairs and University Facilities approached club sailing and waterskiing with plans to “include all three sports in the new rowing facility to adhere to Independent Student Organization policy and mitigate future potential displacement of sailing and waterski,” Nick Turner, president of Clemson’s Club Sports Association, told The Tiger.

An agreement was reached that building plans would be expanded to include sailing’s indoor storage needs and that all three clubs were to bring their own existing floating docks to the property. This past summer, waterski and sailing believed they would relocate to the new facility in the fall, but in August, the Club Sports Association discovered that a boathouse would be built that would only include rowing, Turner added.

“This is certainly a win for rowing but an inevitable detriment for both sailing and waterski,” Turner said about the plan.

The other clubs involved, sailing and waterski, were completely “blindsided” by their exclusion from the new facility. They were informed about the decision by another club sports leader, not the University.

“We would hear all these developments that had been happening behind closed doors that directly affected us that we hadn’t heard anything about,” Claire Lindeman, club sailing’s commodore, told The Tiger in an interview. “We were blindsided, of course, because we’ve been excited for this project, anxiously waiting to make this move and then to hear, ‘Oh, actually no; it’s not happening for you anymore.’ It was definitely tough.”

The need for a new facility comes after club rowing’s boathouse, located adjacent to the varsity facility, was demolished last semester to accommodate the new Clemson Athletics women’s sports complex.

The club rowing team found a spot next to the new Clemson Facilities office on Seneca Creek Road, which was intended to house waterski, sailing and rowing, according to Turner.

The University argued that the space allocated for the rowing facility is not fit to house any additional club sports due to operational and functional constraints.

“There are multiple logistical challenges to accommodating rowing in this space, and while they have been managed, it would be impossible to accommodate additional club sports. These limitations include parking availability and practice timing among others,” Clemson spokesperson Joe Galbraith told The Tiger in an email. “The rowing club practice schedule aligns with facilities, allowing students to use existing parking when most facilities’ staff have left for the day. The addition of other clubs – and the infrastructure and coordination needed to accommodate them – is not possible with the current facilities available in that area.”

It is unclear whether facilities, Student Affairs or the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, which owns the land that the current and future facilities would be on, made the final decision to exclude club waterski and club sailing from the project.

Beyond hindering the waterski and sailing clubs’ functional access to lakeside real estate, the establishment of a new building solely for club rowing would violate the University’s Independent Student Organization policy.

All club sports organizations are ISO entities, and according to ISO policy, “Clemson University will not designate any non-reservable space for Independent Student Organizations. Clemson University may designate shared or collaborative space for use by ISOs.”

So, without another ISO being conjoined with rowing, Clemson University would violate its own policy, Turner claimed.

The club leaders said the University could be trying to find a “loophole” in the policy by deeming the facility shared between men’s and women’s club rowing or Clemosn Facilities and the team.

The waterski and sailing clubs currently operate out of the Snow Family Outdoor Fitness and Wellness Complex. Army Corp has approved plans to transform that space into an outdoor education facility. The outdoor education plans, approved in 2021, intend to replace the club sailing dock with a “teaching beach” and an outdoor classroom.

A leader of the club waterski team expressed his distaste for the decision, fearing the club would ultimately become homeless.

“Campus Rec has already had their plans approved to expand Y Beach; they don’t include us. The space developed for rowing doesn’t include us, so we have nowhere to go,” Andrew Savula, the recruitment director for club waterski, told The Tiger. “And there doesn’t seem to be any plans for us to be included in that space in the future based on actions taken by facilities.”

The renderings indicate that there will still be one club sports dock, but Turner told The Tiger that the space allocated is not sufficient to house both clubs and has heard no word about what clubs the University plans to keep there.

If club sailing and waterskiing are left without a functional location, over 550 students could be without a functional location for their club.

“After a season of record attendance turnout and after seeing the explosive growth of our competitive team and club teams, it’s disheartening to see that our growth will not be coupled with the growth of Clemson,” Savula said.

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Blake Mauro
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Comments (7)

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  • C

    Chris RadzikDec 7, 2023 at 4:01 pm

    It sounds like the university either accommodates all 3 clubs in the new Seneca facility, or the “Outdoor Learning facility” is put on hold indefinitely and the ski and sailing clubs stay put, or the sailing and ski clubs welcome a new learning center to their area of the waterfront, with some funding for new docks and boathouse as part of the plan… The waterfront area really is a special place, and Clemson as a whole is very fortunate to have that space to support all student clubs.
    Confident they will figure it out.

  • S

    Silvia HannaDec 2, 2023 at 2:13 pm

    Both sailing and waterski have demonstrated success on local, regional and national levels, essentially promoting and marketing for Clemson. Clemson needs to recognize that fact and provide a functional location to accommodate student interest and growth with these teams.

  • D

    Diane J CulverDec 1, 2023 at 9:14 pm

    The Clemson Water Ski Team played a MAJOR role in our daughter’s “Clemson Experience”. It added to all of our lives as we attended Water Ski tournaments and Nationals, especially since we are from out of state. What a travesty if Clemson eliminates this opportunity.

  • W

    Wayne MeltonDec 1, 2023 at 7:52 pm

    I hope they can figure something out.

  • B

    Bill McKenzieDec 1, 2023 at 9:51 am


  • W

    Wayne MillerNov 30, 2023 at 7:16 pm

    Shameful! My Iptay funds may need to be redirected!

  • M

    Michael MadoreNov 30, 2023 at 12:21 pm

    Total BS. Get it together CU.