CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – In conjunction with the 75th anniversary of sailing at MIT, the Department of Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation dedicated a new floating dock and a fleet of Firefly sailboats at the Walter C. Wood '17 Sailing Pavilion on Saturday, April 28. The birthplace of intercollegiate sailing, the Wood Sailing Pavilion is the oldest university sailing pavilion in the world. Completed in 1936, it was named after then-sailing master and MIT graduate of the Class of 1917, who helped spawn the MIT Nautical Association.
The floating dock allowed MIT to straighten the front edge of the existing fixed docks while also rebuilding them. The system expects to double the lifespan of the boats, even when the water levels of the Charles River are 30 inches below the deck of the fixed portion of the dock. In addition, there is more deck space for social events and viewing of regattas.
During the celebration, a three-dimensional stainless steel relief sculpture of Lowell North was mounted on the exterior wall of the west wing of the pavilion overlooking the expansive new floating dock system. The inscription highlights the pioneering efforts he brought to the sailmaking industry through the extensive use of science and technology at North Sails. Lead donor Terry Kohler '62 named the docks for Lowell North to illustrate the vast technological accomplishments of the Olympian, World Champion and pioneering business man.
Additional enhancements include: the repurposing of boat bays to accommodate a seasonal changing room with day lockers; improved storage and organization of sails along with other equipment; and space for MIT's Center for Ocean Engineering of the Department of Mechanical Engineering to test and teach classes in unmanned vehicle operations.
A new fleet of 20 colorful Firefly dinghies were purchased as well as six Cape Cod Catboats and six 420 Class sailboats. Also, the sixth generation fleet of carbon fiber tech dinghies is replacing the 35 existing tech dinghies at almost half the weight. All of these boats as well as the current fleet of racing FJs are equipped with brand new North Sails which were acquired this year.
Rounding out the renovation is a collection of over 30 images provided by the MIT Museum which adorn the walls in the shore school as well as the Hatch Brown lobby area. The images not only depict the rich tradition of 75 years of MIT sailing but also highlight the great achievements of some of those who have sailed out of the pavilion.