Tong Family Marina

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Since 1939, the UW-Madison community has made lifelong friendships and memories through the Hoofer Sailing Club. Being out on Lake Mendota has always been the place where Sailing Club members feel most at home. The shoreline and docks are our gateway to the lake and while our current infrastructure has served us well for the past thirty years, it is due for an upgrade. The redesign and reconstruction of the docks and shoreline will sustainably improve operations, training, the lakeshore and accessibility for sailors and watercraft alike. New green space adjacent to Lakeshore Path will provide a place to rest, relax and enjoy the view.

from left to right: Sloop Pier, Sloop Storage, Windsurfing Deck, Scow Storage & Scow Pier, Davit Crane and T-Dock

left: A close up of the new davit crane, which can lift Keelboats in and out.
middle: Dinghies (Techs & 420s) stored on the T-Dock for quick and simple launching
right: Safety Boat Lifts & the pier for launching lasers & bytes

Ceremonial Groundbreaking

The Wisconsin Union team held a ceremonial groundbreaking for the future Tong Family Marina Sept. 15 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 is expected to debut in summer 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 will house the Wisconsin Sailing Team’s fleet of 420s and Badger 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.

Those interested in learning more about or donating to the Marina Project may visit

In the News


  • When will the construction begin?
    • Wisconsin Union staff and student leaders held a ceremonial groundbreaking on Sept. 15 along with project supporters. Construction will begin in fall 2018 with an exact start date to be determined. Beginning Oct. 1, only the construction team will be permitted in the area currently occupied the marina along the Memorial Union lakeshore.

  • When will the construction be finished?
    • The Wisconsin Union team expects the marina will be completed in early summer 2019. A specific date is expected to be available in 2019.

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • Where are all of the boats go over the winter?
    • All of the Hoofer Sailing Club boats are being stored offsite for the winter, and they will all return once construction is completed (estimated summer 2019).

  • 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. Please note, there is a scheduled sailing club rate increase on Nov. 1, 2018.

  • 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?
    • UW-Madison staff and faculty and anyone with a Wisconsin Union membership, including UW-Madison students, will continue to be able to join any Hoofer club.

  • Will this project affect access to Lakeshore Path?
    • During construction, a portion of Lakeshore Path will be closed in order to rebuild the seawall. Once completed, the Path will be even better as most of our boats will then be stored on the T-Dock. Only Lasers and Bytes will have to be moved across the Path.

  • Still have questions?

  • Construction Updates

    Check back soon for updates once construction begins.