FJ’s, Z420’s, J-22’s. These are just some of the types of boats that the sailing team uses when they compete.
The sailing team has two seasons, competing in both the fall and spring. During the fall, they begin sailing in August and wrap up in November around Thanksgiving. The team comes back in February and gets back on the water as soon as possible, as long as there is no ice. Competition then starts up again in March.
For the fall season, the team is competing to qualify for three events for the national championships. These events are the Men’s Single-Handed, Women’s Single-Handed and Match racing. During the season, the sailors compete in order to qualify for a spot in nationals. Head Coach Amanda Callahan said the team will have three to four men’s sailors who will try to qualify for the Men’s Single-Handed. She added that one to two boats will qualify for the Match Racing nationals.
“We will be competing for one of the four spots for nationals in the singled handed men’s event and one of the two spots in the match racing event,” Callahan said.
The team practices and competes in sailing regattas in the New England area in order to qualify for nationals. There are two sailors in each boat and the events that take place at the regatta have two separate divisions. Called the A and B divisions, both will compete in 10 races each. Once they are done, they will combine both scores from each division to give them a final score. The point system within sailing is whichever team has the least amount of points wins. In the event, the amount of points a team receives is based on what place each boat finishes in. For example, if the boat comes in first place, it receives one point. If the boat comes in 10th place, it receives 10 points.
A sailing regatta is a two-day event that takes place over a Saturday and Sunday. On Saturdays, the event usually starts around 10:30 a.m. and could end around 6 p.m. On Sundays, the event typically goes from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The regatta is officially over when each division has competed in 10 races.
In addition to competing in regattas and practices the team has each week, the group has a strong focus on fitness.
“Fitness is so important,” senior Captain Ariana Smaldone said. “We do monthly fitness tests and morning workouts. It keeps us motivated. Some people may not think of sailing as a physical sport, but we do a lot of lifting and cardio."
The team completes monthly fitness tests, which are the same as those used in the military. This involves a two mile run and specific amounts of push-ups and sit ups. They finish with doing as many pull ups as they can.
Smaldone said at this time of year they are mainly doing a lot of cardio. She said more of the lifting happens over the winter.
All this training helps the sailors stay consistent with their boat handling. To work on boat handling, the team partakes in drills during practice.
Junior Riley Read, another captain on the team, mentioned how it is important to try to keep the boat flat and navigate between other boats.
“You also want to be with or against the current depending on which way you’re going,” Read said.
Smaldone also said communication is so important when sailing.
“You have to work together. If you don’t address expectations and goals, then you are not going to be successful, especially at the beginning of the season when we are working on boat handling. You want to make sure that you are maneuvering in the boat smoothly and making sure that it is flat," Smaldone said.
The team as a whole has a common goal for this season. They all want to compete at the highest level of college sailing. They are also following a simple acronym: GROWTH. This stands for gratitude, reliance, optimism, work, team first and honesty.
This season could also be considered a rebuilding season for the team, since eight seniors graduated last year. This year, the team has more freshmen than sophomores, juniors and seniors combined.
“We are working on giving the freshmen the best coaching and opportunities to compete. We want to get them out on the water and make sure we are all striving to be the best team in college sailing,” Coach Callahan said.
This past weekend, the team sailed in their first regatta of the season. Division A finished with a score of 36 and Division B ended with 39, making the final score 75. This put the Hawks in second place, right behind the University of Rhode Island. The next set of sailing regattas will take place next weekend, on Sept. 14 and 15.