Wednesday we broke the story about the fire that destroyed the University of New Hampshire Sailing Team’s boathouse, boats and equipment. Here is the very latest from their head coach, Diana Weidenbacker. Picture courtesy Tara Lenharth. We’ll have more info on how to donate asap.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office has ruled the fire that totally decimated the University of New Hampshire Sailing Centre was incendiary, or intentionally set. Early estimates of loss exceed $500,000.

The University of New Hampshire Sailing Team has been around since 1936.  As a co-ed student run team we work to promote an interest in sailing, in both recreation and competitive inter-collegiate racing.  Currently ranked 16th in NEISA the team is made up of more than 60 members. The UNH Sailing Team will begin the spring season as scheduled after a devastating fire Wednesday, March 3, 2010, destroyed our team’s boathouse at Mendum’s Pond as well as the more than 55 sailboats, outboard engines, trailers, coach boats, tools, and other gear, all of which were lost in the fire. 

The UNH Sailing Centre boathouse on Mendum’s Pond has been the site of daily team practices throughout the week, and weekend regattas every fall and spring season for over 20 years.  The environment at Mendum’s and the welcoming boathouse has served as a home for the team and a destination for family, friends, and returning alumni to congregate over the years.  

This fire has also affected the UNH Community Sailing Program, a summer sailing program open to local youth ages 6-18, providing instruction and coaching from beginners through a junior racing team.  The loss of their own resources including Opti’s, Lasers and those that they share with the collegiate team has jeopardized this organization and the summer activity of over 200 youth sailors who come from towns throughout the southern part of NH, northern MA. and southern ME.  In the spring the UNH Sailing Team also coaches a combined regional junior and senior High School sailing team at our boathouse for their spring racing season which includes hosting the NH Sate High School Championship.  Their season at the moment remains in limbo.

Despite the extent of our losses, current team members, alumni, coaches, and our University advisors are optimistic and are moving toward the rebuilding process.  We have suffered a terrible blow but are confident that our team bond and love of sailing will help us bounce back from this tragedy.  The outreach from fellow collegiate teams and the UNH community has already been critical to our recovery efforts.  We will be competing in a team-racing regatta this weekend at Connecticut College and are looking forward to kicking off our spring season.  Thanks to the generosity of other teams offers to practice at their facility or the lending of some equipment we will hopefully be able to get out on the water to practice and remain active in the collegiate sailing community this spring while we rebuild and strengthen our organization.

Any donations should be sent to:
The UNH Sailing Team
Hamel Student Recreation Center
128 Main St. Durham, NH 03824

Or early next week a link for online donations will be up on the Campus Rec site

Any additional inquiries can also be addressed to the head coach. 

Diana Weidenbacker
Head Coach
University of New Hampshire Sailing Team