Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Sailing brings alums together

Not all hobbies teach you lessons you can use every day. But a few DU staff, alumni and students have found one that does.


“My favorite saying is ‘Get your head out of the boat,’ which means to always look ahead and be aware of what is around you … to anticipate what could happen and be prepared,” says Suzanne Webster (BA communications ’03), assistant director of student debt management in the Bursar’s Office at DU. 

It was a lesson Webster could have used on her first outing in 1989 — a chilly early April day on Chatfield Reservoir. The winds picked up and she capsized. The frigid water stole her breath and gravity stole the rest. “Everything that wasn’t tied down was gone,” she says. 

A motorboat towed her to shore. 

She persisted, albeit more cautiously. “For the next three weeks I sat in the center of the boat with one arm on one side and one arm on the other panicked if the boat heeled over an inch,” Webster says.

Now on most Wednesday evenings during the summer, you can find Webster and about a dozen others from DU racing sailboats on Cherry Creek Reservoir as part of the Denver Sailing Association(DSA).

Insiders say you don’t need your own boat (you can join the crew of a boat owner) and association membership is only $45 a year. 

Another DU sailing enthusiast and DSA member is Mike Schettler (BSBA ’83). A native of Long Island, N.Y., Schettler grew up watching boats. “It was a big part of life there,” he says.

After he graduated, Schettler bought a small boat and started sailing more regularly. Today he says he’s on the water with a bigger boat three days a week from May to September. 

“I enjoy the thrill of it,” Schettler says.  

He also competes. In fact, last week he raced 40 other boats from around the country in a regatta in Dillon, Colo., — the highest regatta in the world at 9,017 feet above sea level.

Schettler and his team placed second in their class in the race, which ended in a hailstorm on Sunday.

The 2007 Colorado Governor’s Cup is set for Sept. 28–30 at Cherry Creek Reservoir. Webster plans to compete. 

When asked about her chances of winning, she says, “There’s always a chance if you are on the right side of a wind shift.”

Comments are closed.