Wisconsin Hoofers docks being retired, upgraded with ‘Tong Family Marina’

Wisconsin Hoofers docks being retired, upgraded with ‘Tong Family Marina’

Officials broke ground on a new marina for the Wisconsin Union’s sailing boats Saturday, honoring a family with a long sailing history who contributed to the project.

The Tong Family Marina, named for a family who donated $1 million to the construction, will replace the current piers along the Memorial Union shore that have served the Wisconsin Hoofers Sailing Team for decades and outlasted their usable lifetime.

“They’ve done an extraordinary job at what they do and lasted considerably longer than anybody anticipated,” said Mills Botham, a senior at UW-Madison and Wisconsin Union President.

According to Botham, who has been sailing with the Hoofers for 11 years, the docks have become costly and time-consuming to repair. Their age became especially apparent during August’s historic rainfall.

“We came down Tuesday to docks that were floating away,” said Botham.

After this sailing season concludes at the beginning of October, these tried and true docks and piers will be officially retired.

In their place will be a new donor-funded marina. The project is designed to improve safety, accessibility and sustainability according to officials. It will feature eight new pier elements and a davit crane to help transport boats in and out of the water. A green space will also be built along Lakeshore Path.

Wisconsin Hoofers docks being retired, upgraded with ‘Tong Family Marina’

According to Peter Tong, a UW alumnus whose history of learning to sail with the Hoofers over 50 years ago has inspired a lifelong passion, donating to make sure this project continued was an easy decision.

“I think we have a world-class pier design,” said Tong. “I think it will be the envy of the world.”

Botham is also excited to see the changes that the Tong Family Marina will bring to the Hoofers and Outdoor UW program.

“We are anticipating being able to expand the youth program to allow more children to grow up with the program, as I did,” said Botham. “The idea being that this marina is for everyone.”