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!

The Willamette Sailing Club (WSC) is committed to creating a safe, positive, and inclusive environment for all people regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, national origin, age, identity, education, disability or other protected status. WSC is welcoming and proud of its diverse membership and guests.

We’re committed to modeling diversity and inclusion for the sailing community and to maintaining an inclusive environment with equitable treatment for all.

2024 Board of Directors

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.

Vice Commodore: Arjan Duyvestein

Growing up in the Netherlands, I’ve always been fond of water, and sailing was especially fascinating to me as a kid.  After spending several weeks one summer on a boat with my cousins cruising through many canals, rivers and locks, I got really interested in boats, but my parents were not sailors.  A windsurfer was about as far as I got during college, but after joining the club in 2015 I finally bought an old Daysailer.  We are having lots of fun learning how to sail and race it with much help from the fleet.  My wife Froukje is not into sailing much (yet) but is very supportive from the sidelines and can be seen on a boat when conditions are right (no wind).  All three of our kids have taken lessons at the club and all of them can be seen from time to time crewing with me.  WSC has been a great discovery for our family and we love the easy going atmosphere at the club.  I’m looking forward to meeting more members and building more lasting friendships here.

Rear 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.

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.

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 through 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.

Secretary: Sarah Nicolas

My family (Sebastien, Emilie, Elise, and our Golden Retriever Lola) and I, have been members of Willamette Sailing Club (WSC) since December 2019, though we were friends with other members and visited as guests on many occasions prior to joining.  Our first introduction to sailing happened accidentally through our friendship with WSC members Guy & Michelle LaSalle in 2012-2013 when Guy completed the restoration of their Chinese Junk Boat. He often needed crew for little forays on the Willamette River.  My family is always up for an adventure!  Subsequently, in 2016, through a sequence of curious events that I cannot fully articulate here, my family unexpectedly were the owners of a Coastal Recreation Aquarius 21.  We became self-taught sailors and enjoyed our time on the river pretending to sail, or just motoring around.  We loved our time on the water and it felt so natural, but we also determined we needed more camaraderie and a connection to the sailing community.  We became WSC members in December 2019.  Seeing the people connections among the other fleets, we realized that we needed to get into the dinghy scene and were introduced to Toby Deming and the Day Sailer fleet.  Seb started crewing for John Olsson for the Summer 2 Series in 2021 and proceeded to compete in Nationals with John in 2022. Late that summer, I followed in Seb’s footsteps of crewing for several DS skippers.  This past fall Seb took the helm of our own DS and we are now racing together.

Sailing is so different for us now compared to when we were first self-taught. We have learned so much from our WSC family…and a lot less shouting while sailing ?.  Our daughters Emilie & Elise have been in several of the sailing camps and Emilie has been participating on the youth race team since September.  She has been bitten by the sailing bug! Emilie can also be seen crewing for other DS fleet skippers on Race nights. While Elise is less interested in sailing, she loves to come down to the club, especially in the summer. You’ll likely find her swimming in the river or in the mud!

We have especially appreciated the welcoming, humble, and family-like nature of the Day Sailer fleet. Last year I had the privilege of being the Day Sailer Fleet Captain.  I am honored to now serve the greater WSC sailing community as Secretary and look forward to meeting more WSC members.

Port Captain: Ted Drayton

My first sailing experience was at the age of five with the purchase of my first Sabot sailboat,learning to sail in Southern California. Eventually hitting middle school age, I grew out of the Sabot into a Laser and Laser 2. Graduated from High School in the early 80’s then attended Oregon State University joining the sailing club/team. The Oregon State Sailing lake/pond was in a cow farm that smelled like a cow pasture. We used Laser 2s for practice and occasionally had to navigate the dead cow in the pond. Graduated and moved to Portland being hired by the Oregon Convention Center. Currently married with two kidos who want to play tennis and basketball. My wife played tennis at Stanford and Oregon State. I really enjoy sailing and have years of experience in both little and big boats. My goal at WSC is to keep the facility safe but fun for everyone to enjoy. One less powerboat… Let’s go Sailing!