Tong Family Marina

TFM September 2019

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In the summer of 2019, the state-of-the-art Tong Family Marina opened to serve the Hoofer Sailing Club, the Union, campus and the greater Madison community with a total renovation of the shoreline and lakeshore path between Memorial Union and the UW-Madison Limnology Building. For the Sailing Club, a combination of year-round fixed decks and floating piers have helped ensure the Club can continue to offer an extraordinary experience for all of its members for decades to come.

The new piers replaced the decades-old infrastructure from the early 1980s. Originally designed and built by Dick Sharkey (former Commodore & Shop Director), the previous piers served the club extremely well. After nearly 4 decades, the summer of 2018 was their last.


Starting in October of 2018, the old infrastructure was retired and work on the new lakeshore and marina began. Working through the dead of winter, crews drove piles for the new fixed decks, the davit crane platform and a few hundred feet of new sheet-pile seawall from the Lake Lab to Limnology. With the thaw, concrete helped shape the new lakeshore path and the club took delivery of the 4 floating piers (Sloop, Scow, T-Dock and Laser/Byte).

One of the most exciting additions is the massive 192-foot-wide T-Dock that services the Tech, Zest, Ranger, and 420 fleets. In addition to providing storage for the fleets, the shape provides small harbors behind the T, shielding sailors from the worst of the waves on the notorious North wind days.

With the complete renovation of the shoreline, wave abatement has been significantly improved and a concrete platform was constructed for a brand-new Davit crane. The crane is a critical piece of infrastructure and allows the Club to lift keelboats (both its own and those of the public, for a fee) in and out of the water as needed.

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Ceremonial Groundbreaking

The Wisconsin Union team held a ceremonial groundbreaking for the future Tong Family Marina Sept. 15 of 2018 along the Memorial Union lakefront, marking the beginning of the replacement of a 40-year-old pier system used by the Union’s Wisconsin Hoofers and Outdoor UW. The donor-funded new pier system will enhance safety, increase boat storage efficiency, allow for the creation of a new park, and provide more on-land space for programming. The new pier system debuted in the summer of 2019.

“This new marina will provide access to Lake Mendota in a safe, efficient, welcoming way that will allow many generations of sailors to experience the indescribable joy of sailing for decades to come,” Wisconsin Union President Mills Botham said.

More than 60 project supporters joined the Wisconsin Union team for the groundbreaking ceremony, including Janet and Peter Tong and their children Sarah Sangmeister, Jennifer Tong Carlisle ’94, Jessica Tong Baron and David Tong ’05.The Tong family’s $1 million gift to the Wisconsin Union along with the support of other generous donors helped make this marina possible. No taxpayer dollars are being used for this project.

“This lakeshore is absolutely iconic to Madison and to the university, and it is absolutely worthwhile to continually update its infrastructure and give it some love,” Peter Tong said.

The new state-of-the-art floating T-pier system houses the Wisconsin Sailing Team’s fleet of 420s and the Sailing Club’sBadger Techs, freeing space along Lakeshore Path for new 330-foot-long by 24-foot-wide green space. In addition, a new crane will facilitate more efficient transport of boats to and from the water.

“We are extremely proud to be here today to mark this point in time, when the Wisconsin Union – along with our friends and supporters – commits to many more decades of outdoor recreational excellence by breaking ground on this impressive project,” Wisconsin Union Director Mark Guthier said during the Sept. 15 groundbreaking.

These improvements will benefit thousands of individuals who will use the pier system throughout the summer, including more than 1,000 Hoofer Sailing Club members, including youth who participate in the Club’s summer youth program. The Club has provided affordable, accessible sailing equipment and instruction, including lessons in keelboat sailing and wind surfing, to its members since 1939. The Club also creates community programs, such as an annual free sailing event for 50 athletes from Special Olympics Wisconsin and their coaches or parents.

The new piers will also be used by other members of the Wisconsin Hoofers’ clubs as well as Outdoor UW customers, who can rent stand-up paddleboards, kayaks or canoes as well as take stand-up paddleboard yoga classes on Lake Mendota.



Why is the marina called the Tong Family Marina?

  • The Wisconsin Union has named the new, upcoming marina the “Tong Family Marina” in honor of the Tong family’s $1 million contribution to the project and the Tong family’s love of spending time on the water.

How is the Tong Family Marina being funded?

  • The Tong Family Marina is being funded solely by private donations.

Has the club met the fundraising goal yet?

  • Funds continue to be raised for the project. The project is currently estimated to cost $4.8 million. Those interested in learning more about or donating to the Marina Project may visit the Union Annual Fund.

Are there any similar marinas or piers systems on Lake Mendota?

  • Two other similar marinas on Lake Mendota are the Goodspeed Pier and the pier at the Edgewater Hotel.

Will the new piers be ADA compliant?

  • The marina design calls for ADA compliant piers and gangways.

Will the Lake Lab building be replaced?

  • There are no immediate plans to replace the Lake Lab, but it will undergo some mechanical upgrades.

Is this project going to result in the termination of any current fleets?

  • The marina project will not result in the termination of any current fleets. The new marina facilities will be better suited to house our current fleets. Plus, the scow fleet will be back at Hoofers for the first time since 2017, and each boat will have its own lift for easy launching.

Will the davit crane be open to the public?

  • We hope to offer this service to the public, as our new davit crane will be able to lift keelboats into and out of the lake.

Will this project result in higher Hoofers membership fees or increased Outdoor UW rental costs?

  • We do not anticipate this project affecting the price of Hoofer club memberships or Outdoor UW rental costs.

Will there still be volunteer opportunities?

  • Volunteer work will continue to be vital to the Hoofers’ success. While we will not have heavy steel trusses to remove and install, there will be new volunteer opportunities. For example, all of the new piers will have water and electrical hookups, which will allow us to do more regular cleaning and maintenance of our boats.

Will all individuals continue to be able to join the Hoofer Sailing Club?

  • The sailing club will continue to accept anyone with a Wisconsin Union membership, including UW-Madison students, faculty, and staff. Check out our Membership Page for more information about our memberships and how to join.

Still have questions?

  • Please reach out to either the Sailing Program Manager, Dave Elsmo, at , the Commodore, at commodore@hoofersailing.orgor the Club's Head of Instruction, at