Founded over 20 years ago, Austin Sailing Society has connected avid and newbie sailors on Lake Travis with fun events and a comforting atmosphere. With boat ownership not required and controversial topics off the table for conversation, people only need to have an interest in sailing and enjoy hanging out with good people.
AFM had the opportunity to chat with co-founder Gregory White to learn a little more about him and the group.
AFM: How long have you been sailing?
GW: I’ve been sailing for 40 years or more. The first time I took a sailboat out on my own was when I was in the Navy and we had Liberty in Subic Bay in the Philippines. They had a recreation island and on the island not only was there cheap beer but there were sailboats. So me and a buddy decided that we had to go try this. We did manage to get back to the place where you’re supposed to, although it took a bit.
AFM: What do you love about sailing?
GW: Sailing by itself; it’s using nature to make you go somewhere. It’s pretty much a silent sport, as long as there’s not a storm. You just kind of sit there and watch the world go by or talk to whoever’s on the boat with you.
AFM: How did you first get involved with the Austin Sailing Society?
GW: I’m one of the few founding members left of the group. I was there when it first formed. There were a number of us who sail together or have sailed together, and we got together and said, “Well why don’t we form a group that will get guests on board and they can go sailing and we can go sailing and have a good time.” That’s basically how it all started. It was more than 20 years ago. This was before Facebook. The way I keep track is that we have an annual deal called Hunt.
AFM: What is this “Hunt”?
GW: It started as a scavenger hunt, and we didn’t want to limit it in the way it was put together. So, we just called it the Hunt. It could be the hunt for who knows what. Could it be a flag? Could be the hunt for pictures? Could you do things on the water? We’ve had 18 hunts and [in] the past two years we had not done it because of COVID.
AFM: What other events does the group put on?
GW: We do happy hours too. We’ve done it in a number of different places but we meet at a restaurant and have a happy hour. It’s just to meet people who have common interests and get to know them. We have had a number of speakers come in, but not on a regular basis. I’ve done a couple of speeches. I thought it interesting, I don’t know if everybody else did.
AFM: What is the mission of the group?
GW: Get the butts in the boat!
AFM: What is it like sailing on Lake Travis?
GW: It’s very different from sailing on Galveston Bay or Nags Head or Chesapeake Bay or any of those open water kinds of things. Lake Travis is only two miles wide at its widest. Basically, it’s almost 200 feet deep and it’s 64 miles long, but it’s like sailing a river as long as the lake level is up. When you’re going upwind you’re tacking constantly, but then when you turn around and come back, it’s a downwind sail.