For first time since 2007, all three sailing teams go to nationals

by Matt Yuen | 5/5/16 5:15pm

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After this last weekend's races, hosted by Dartmouth, the women's, team and co-ed fleet racing teams are all headed to nationals.

At home in Hanover, the co-ed sailing team placed seventh out of 18 last Sunday at the New England Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association Dinghy Championship, qualifying them for the Inter-collegiate Sailing Association National Championship in San Diego, California. In collegiate sailing, there are three main events: team fleet racing, women’s fleet racing and co-ed fleet racing. Over the past two weeks, both the women’s fleet and team fleet racing teams qualified for nationals, making this year the first time since 2007 all three events qualified for the national championship.

At last weekend’s race, the weather conditions were a bit lackluster. Because of the lack of wind, only four races were held — the minimum to make the regatta an official national qualifier event. Hunter Johnstone ’16 and Rebecca McElvain ’19 sailed four races in the A-division, while Abigail Rohman ’16 and Charlie Lalumiere ’17 sailed four races in the B-division. Although the team successfully qualified for the nationals, last Sunday would prove to be a test of mental endurance and fortitude.

“It’s more physically demanding when there’s more breeze, and certainly a more exciting game when there’s more breeze,” said Rohman. “When the winds are lighter, it’s more of a tactical game. You have to be so disciplined and methodical. Because it’s so light and there were only a couple of races left, we had to be really mentally disciplined to not be thrown off if something went wrong, such as if you had a bad start or someone fouls you.”

The lack of strong winds also turns the race into a bit of a waiting game. Rohman said that it is a bit unnerving when you are waiting on the boat for the next race, not really knowing when the winds will be strong enough for an official race. While you have to be mentally prepared and ready for the race to start at any time, you also have to ration your mental focus and power. That being said, the fact that the co-ed sailing team was able to outlast the wating game and qualify for nationals is a testament to the team’s practice and diligence.

“Mental toughness has been something we’ve been really focusing on this season,” Sophia Diserio ’18 said.

With all three teams in each event qualified for nationals for the first time in almost ten years, the stakes are high, and the team is ready to sail out into the ocean and bring home the victory.

“There’s a lot of work to be done, a lot to prepare for nationals, but we’re feeding off of the fact that all of the hard work we put in the fall, winter and spring has paid off,” Rohman said. “We’re looking to keep going with that. Focus on the water, focus in practice and to have a tough attitude to really get the best results at nationals.”

At the same time, the team emphasizes the importance of remaining composed and focusing on the task at hand.

“Nationals are just another repetition of what we have been practicing all year,” McElvain said. “I don’t think of it as anything else than another regatta. Our team is driven and focused, and we will be prepared to sail just as we practice. That being said, I am excited to compete since it is hosted in my hometown, San Diego.”

From May 24 to May 27, the women’s sailing team will set out to the West coast to compete in the ICSA Women’s Championship, and from May 31 to June 3, the co-ed sailing team will compete in the ICSA National Championship. From May 28 to May 30, the Team Race Championship will also run in San Diego.