OBERLIN, Ohio (AP) - The members of the Oberlin College Sailing Club don't have to worry about shipwrecks, sinkings or being lost at sea.
They don't have to worry about maintenance, upkeep or even
scraping barnacles off the hull. They don't have to worry because they don't have a boat.
The eight sails belonging to the club are in a closet at the college student union building, because the college so far has refused to authorize the purchase of a boat.
"It's kind of silly for us not to be allowed to have a boat," said Abe Kruger, the club's 21-year-old commodore.
The club, founded in 1948, was defunct when Kruger began efforts in 2000 to revive it. Soon after that, a sailor donated sails for a J/24 racing boat. Kruger and other club members then found another sailor willing to sell his J/24 boat for $2,000.
The deal fell through because the college was concerned about liability and Oberlin's vice president of finance refused to authorize the purchase.
"I happen to like sailing a lot," Vice President Andrew Evans said. "But the risk is significant, especially if you're going to use the boat on Lake Erie."
Gail Turluck, graduate secretary of the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association's Midwest District that includes Ohio and nine other states, said the 28 colleges and universities with sailing programs all operate with various fleet sizes.
Liability concerns are an issue at all institutions, but most colleges treat sailing like other activities that may pose a risk, Turluck said.
"Injury or death is extremely rare," said Turluck.
Oberlin College has equestrian and scuba diving clubs, but they are club sports and fall under the department of athletics, which means they receive more administrative guidance and oversight, Evans said.
Evans said sailing club members have to become more organized if they want a club sport designation.
The revived club in this city about 30 miles west of Cleveland has tried to overcome the lack of a boat. The club chartered a 77-foot sailboat, but the trip for 25 students was canceled because of foul weather.