About Willamette Sailing Club

Willamette Sailing Club is located on the banks of the Willamette River, approximately 5 minutes South of downtown Portland. It is the only small boat sailing club in Portland, and is dedicated to dinghy (non-keelboats under 20 feet) sailing and racing.

The club has over 300 members, and hosts numerous activities throughout the year. The WSC membership is comprised of a wide range of sailing enthusiasts. We have many members who primarily are interested in racing (from US Olympic team members to their first year racing a sailboat), members that just want a place to keep and launch their boat for day sailing, and some who just want a place to store their boat and enjoy the social aspects of the club. Whatever your sailing interest, WSC is a great club. The club hosts weekly races from February to November, holds racing clinics, organizes social events, sponsors several regattas each year, and provides a great opportunity to keep a boat on the river to enjoy evening and weekend sailing. The family environment at WSC creates a great atmosphere for family fun!

2021 Board of Directors

Commodore: Geoff Fanning

Geoff’s Dad taught him to sail in a Minto dinghy carried to Timothy Lake on the roof of the family station wagon. After terrorizing Lenore one high school summer day with his Dad’s Ranger 12 on Hagg Lake he pursued degrees in Math, Physics and Electrical Engineering, which he now uses to make ends meet building the kind of lasers that emit light. 10 years ago, he returned to sailing starting with an adult learn-to-sail class at Willamette Sailing Club. After five or six years alternately boring and terrorizing his family in a Catalina 14.2, and very occasionally achieving nirvana with all three members fully hiked out in a close haul usually achieved on a Yale Reservoir camping trip, and crewing mostly Thistles through Wednesday night racing and the occasional regatta (thanks Bill), he and Lenore find themselves with a Lido 14 in which they strive to at least stay with the fleet during races while not bumping into anyone. Geoff also fishes his Hobie Revo 13 kayak out of WSC, with which, if he could just catch a spring chinook under the Ross Island Bridge, he could say he’d got one under all three of the closest Willamette River Bridges! When not on the water or at work, he’s probably on a bike or reading a book.

Vice Commodore: Kathy Sandifer

I grew up in Florida on a lake so being on and in the water, has always come natural to me. After finishing a BS in Biology, I moved to Beaufort, NC to work at Duke University Marine Lab. Beaufort is a big sailing town for both cruising and off shore racing. I did not know anything about sailing so I went to the library and checked out a basic how-to-sail book and learned the vocabulary and which way to wrap a winch. Then I went to the docks before the racing. There was usually someone desperate enough (or maybe just kind enough) to take me on as rail meat. After that I moved to Gainesville, Florida to go to the UF Veterinary school. Here I met Mark Sandifer. He loved to cook and he had his own sailboat. Our first date was on his Prindle Cat-16. It was a match made in heaven. After following Mark to Japan for a while, we got married, moved to Portland and had two kids. Both Austin and Elle took summer sailing camps, raced on the high school team and worked their way up through the summer coaching program. Mark and I bought a Lido 14 and joined WSC in 2008. The club has been a place of fun and friendships for our family ever since. I look forward to serving the club in 2021 hopefully with the wind, again blowing on my face.

Rear Commodore: John Gridley

I grew up and have lived in the Portland area my entire life.  My wife and I are in the residential construction business. During my teens I had the opportunity to sail Lightenings on Vancouver Lake, it made a big impression on me.   Years later when returning from the Sea of Cortez and seeing all the sailboats, I decided to take a sailing class on the Columbia River and get involved in the sport again.  I purchased a small keel boat with a friend and spent many a wonderful evening on the river.  I’ve always enjoyed the water, and luckily my wife, Shelley has as well.  We spent our early years as a couple scuba diving, power boating, paddling and boat camping with our young family.

Our son Grant was very enthusiastic about all things water and adventure so we signed him up for a summer camp at WSC when he was 10 years old.  After a couple more camps he joined the youth race team and was hooked.  Grant had such a great time at WSC he coaxed me back into sailing and convinced me to purchased a Thistle sailboat.   It was with a lot of mentoring from club members we started racing weekly and eventually participating in traveling regattas as far away as SanDiego.  Sailing has taken us up and down the west coast participating with the Thistle fleet and following Grant to local, regional and national regattas.   It has been an action packed and rewarding past 9 years being involved at our club and supporting youth sailing along with Shelley.   Grant is now attending Roger Williams University in Rhode Island and a member of their varsity sailing team.  Shelley and I are processing being “empty nesters” and looking forward introducing my two young grandsons to sailing and the WSC community in the coming years.

Treasurer: Christine Stamper

I got my introduction to sailing in 1980’s middle America – summer camp. They tried to teach us kids something we didn’t listen to and then sent us out 3 at a time on the iconic Sunfish. There, I learned first hand about small boat capsizes, cargo shipping lanes, gigantic ships with super load horns and frantic coaches with boat hooks and tow line. Some years later, I saw Willamette Sailing Club when we would walk on the greenway path. I thought: This place looks invitingly scruffy, I think I shall resume my nautical pursuits. So here I am, where I’ve upgraded to a Laser that I get all to myself and do a better job of staying out of the ships’ ways. One of my other hobbies is living well on a budget. I am arguably better at this than winning regattas. I hope to help WSC do the same.

Secretary: Rachel Barney

My first time sailing was in 4th grade on my aunt and uncle’s boat cruising in the San Juan Islands. This experience left an impression on me and was the inspiration that led me to take an ASA 101 course in my twenties. After ASA 101, I knew I wanted to keep sailing. I moved to Portland and immediately joined the sailing club. I started on race committee and devoted many work hours to pulling up anchors. I loved getting out on the water and watching the races. Not long after I joined, I was invited to crew on a Lido and spent the year learning how to race. The following year, I had the opportunity to borrow a Day Sailer for the season and I became a skipper. I loved driving the boat and ended up buying a Day Sailer of my own, Wild Child. My co-workers can all attest to my excitement for Wednesday race nights. They get an earful about the wind conditions on Wednesday morning and then a re-cap of every race the next day. Sailing at WSC gives me energy and enthusiasm that lasts all week. I love going down to the club because everyone is friendly and willing to lend a hand. We are part of amazing community. I’m looking forward to another great season with all of you

Fleet Captain: Mike Rees

Michael Rees is a past commodore of Willamette Sailing Club and a founding board member and past president of Oregon Youth Sailing Foundation. He started sailing on a Flying Scot in Texas at age 9. From 1984 to 1989, he taught sailing at Camp Sealth on Vashon Island. He has campaigned a Thistle since 2002 and dabbles in Laser sailing. Nearly every year, he takes a sailing vacation in the San Juans and Canadian Gulf Islands. At various times, he has crewed on big boats, doing many of the Pacific Northwest distance races, including Swiftsure. He graduated from Seattle Pacific University, and then earned a Master’s Degree in English Lit from the University of Nebraska. He moved to Portland to get a law degree from Lewis and Clark College. When not sailing, he works as an attorney in Portland.

Port Captain: Brad Grenham

I learned to sail as a kid at Community Boating on the Charles River in Boston. I later worked on the square-rigged wooden schooner Shenandoah around Cape Cod. After a few decades without sailing, I would bike by WSC and think how much I missed sailing. I finally bought a Lido and joined the club in 2015. Last year, I started sailing Lasers as well. In joining WSC, I thought I was signing up for a place to dock a boat, but learned I had joined something much larger. Sailors in all fleets have been so generous in sharing expertise and pushing me to improve. Sailing played a big role in my staying positive during 2020. In the off-season, I coach high school students in Constitutional Law debate competitions. My two children, George and Kate, recently graduated college and will occasionally crew for me on a Wednesday. My wife, Lisa, is still waiting on a keel boat that involves no boom-ducking.