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!

2023 Board of Directors

Commodore: 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.

Vice Commodore: John Olsson

I grew up in Weymouth Massachusetts and was on the water at 5 years old at our summer cottage on Cape Cod sailing sunfishes. We raced on our pond for lake rights using milk jugs and string and rocks for markers. I later joined Charles River sailing club in junior high and rode the subway in after school with the Jr. High sailing club.

I got back into sailing out here and sailed with a crew in Seattle on an Olson 30 for a couple of years . I came to WSC opening day 10 years ago looking to sail small boats and met Dick Stokes and sailed with him on his Daysailer and joined the club and bought a daysailer 2 months later. From there it was meeting Toby and Rich and working with them to build a racing fleet. I met Mike Van Kirk and we sailed together for 5 years and now he has his own rig. We now have 10 boats racing and it is a very special group of sailors with the best camaraderie.

I can’t believe how fast 10 years has gone by and the great camping trips and Christmas ships and watching the kids grow up into young adults over the years. WSC is a great escape from the weekly city life and gives me a few hours of water therapy I need to decompress and enjoy the water. Just being on the river, whether it be racing, cruising, kayaking, race committee or just visiting on the dock with someone who is new and wants to learn more about sailing, makes my week.

Rear 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.

Treasurer: Dave Shanley

Dave has lived near the water his entire life (Detroit, SF, Chicago, Galveston, Portland), but only started sailing about 10 years ago, here, in Portland. He’s doing his best to make up for lost time!
Dave has successfully grown B2B SaaS companies as a founder, CTO, and executive over the last 20 years. From startup through acquisition to public and private company leadership, Dave has experience at all phases of company growth and the challenges associated with each specific stage. Dave is currently building his 4th company (Content Camel) and is an Advisory Board Member at Epicodus, as well as several venture-backed startups. Previously, he was an Executive in Residence at the Technology Association of Oregon and president of a mixed-use condo HOA.

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 Van Kirk

I grew up in Oregon City and have always had a curious mindset. I always wanted to know how things worked and why they worked. This has led me down many different paths with lots of hobbies and a couple engineering degrees. I started sailing around 2014 with John Olsson after finishing my pilots license, since obviously I now wanted to know how sailboats worked. I looked online and saw that people sailed on Wednesday nights so I decided to show up with a life vest for some “day sailing”. I helped John launch his boat and picked his brain on sailing and he asked if I wanted to go out. We sailed a few times that year but it wasn’t until he got his new boat “Eyeball” that the love of sailing started to kick in. There was something about hiking out a foot above the water, missing other boats by inches that appealed to me; and if we could beat Toby or Rich that was icing on the cake. So, I bought a few books and started learning the lingo,racing rules, and racing tactics. John taught me to skipper his boat and let me skipper when we started getting 15 knot winds, which boosted my confidence and gave me a better understanding of how the boat moves thru the water. I bought my Day Sailer “Sparkle Donkey” the end of 2019 and then moved up to “Jonnie Walker Black” in 2020. I am excited to work with everyone to continue our racing legacy and get in as many racing and teaching opportunities as possible, there is always something new to learn.

Port Captain: Jared Lathrop

I grew up on Cape Cod out in Massachusetts, enjoying the warm ocean and learning to sail in my teams through Hobie Cat sailing on the beach.  After high School I attended the Massachusetts Maritime academy and joined the sailing team, launching me into a formalized program around sailboat racing.  In college I studied marine/power plant engineering.  While there I sailed dinghies, keel boats and with the offshore team in the northeast and traveling to Annapolis.  After college I had the opportunity to travel to the Caribbean and throughout New England racing on larger boats in my early 20’s. I also spent time on the west coast doing some of the great offshore classics such as Transpac and the races to Mexico.  Also in my 20’s I was part of a Farr 40 team, getting great exposure to some very talented sailors and racing alongside some very talented teams in the worlds.  My wife and I sailed Lightings while we lived in Wilmington NC in our 30’s.  We returned to the PNW after our 2nd son was born and joined the club back in 2015 (I think?)…. started racing lasers again and as our children have grown our older son Desmond has gravitated to sailing at the club on the youth team.  I’m very excited to be on the board as port captain for 2022, continuing on with all the great work those before us have done at the club.  We have a bright future and I’m happy to be part of making it happen!