The sky is the limit and the waters are waiting for three members of the Purdue Calumet Sailing Program.
Eric Brown of Schererville, Joe Copak of Crown Point and Mark Sudicky of Highland/Chicago began sailing in the Purdue Cal program just two years ago. Next week, they'll be crewing in the 2006 International Soling Class World Fleet Racing Championship, which is scheduled to run Oct. 16-22 in Annapolis, Md.
Brown will be with a Norwegian team, while Copak and Sudicky will be part of a Scottish team.
"It is going to be a learning experience," said Brown, a recent graduate and now an instructor at the university. "We are going to go out there with an open mind and to have a good time. With a good skipper, you never know what can happen."
The soling class sailboat is a 27-foot keelboat that is crewed by three people: a skipper, middleman and bowman. The Purdue Cal program started using the solings in their sailing this year.
"The solings are racing boats," Brown said. "This is the first year that the program used these boats. It is a big step for us."
One huge benefit for the Purdue Calumet program was receiving instruction from the president of the International Soling Association, Matias Collins.
"Matias is a key guy in the development for some the members of our program," said Geoffrey Barrow, a professor of foreign languages and intramural sailing teacher at Purdue Cal. "To work with him was a real breakthrough,"
Joe Copak, a senior at Purdue Cal, returned earlier this month from Lake Champlain in New York after participating in the U.S. Soling Championship along with Collins. They finished fifth out of 12 boats.
"I love it, the races and everything surrounding it," Copak said. "It is also a great community to be part of.
"Everyone is so enthusiastic. They are really nice and are willing to show someone new like me the ropes."
The purpose of the Purdue program is to teach young adults about sailing and develop them as instructors for the Indiana Sailing Association. The ISA is a nonprofit organization that sponsors youth sail training out of East Chicago Central High School.
The three individuals taking part in the world championship next week have become youth sailing coaches.
"These guys have really come along and have embraced sailing," Barrow said. "And the best training for coaches is competition. The way to learn is through experience and practice, all hands-on stuff, and these three are definitely getting that."
Brown and Copac are planning a trip over spring break in 2007 to sail in regattas in Argentina.
"Having the experience with many boats around in competition will only help us in our teaching," Brown said. "What began as something just to look into and to take a pleasure cruise or two has become a lifestyle for us."