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Lake gazers have, for years, seen the majestic “cow boat” anchored off the Union Terrace. One of the largest sailing vessels on Lake Mendota, the 34-foot keelboat, christened Soma, is painted black and white in a Holstein pattern.

But in the summer of 2016, Soma never made an appearance. It’s going through repair and refit, a process that — due to funding difficulties — may take a long time.

Soma is a Mull 34, a kind of racing yacht designed by Gary Mull — thus the name — for use on the Great Lakes. The name Soma is derived from a Hindu moon deity, and the boat derives from the family of the late Harry Hazebrook MS’51 of Detroit, who donated it to the Union’s Hoofers outdoor activity club in 1989.

The Hoofers have used Soma primarily for lessons during its quarter-century-plus of service on Lake Mendota. Last year it was sent off to a repair facility at the UW’s agricultural research station, but the cost of refitting it outpaced the funds available. Currently, the beloved cow boat is looking for a home until its repairs can be completed.
“Hopefully, Soma can make a return,” says Mark Gillespie, the Hoofers’ keelboat fleet captain. “If not, we’ll paint spots on her successor!”

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