Friday, September 30, 2011

A College Sailor's Life - Day One at the U.S. Team Racing Championship

By Kelly Stannard
Houston Yacht Club greeted the fifteen teams competing for the Hinman Trophy with sun, warmth and plenty of great breeze. Everyone arrived, tied up all the loose ends with registrations and hit the water for some racing after the competitors briefing.
Conditions were beautiful with nice wind for the majority of the day, which tapered off near the end.
Our team, Minor Threat had a good day of racing with 8 wins. Team Trouble finished today with 7 wins and Team Extreme with 6 wins. It’s still early as we are only about half way through the first round robin. Some teams have only sailed a few races while others have sailed many.
The Houston Yacht Club, the umpires, and all of the many volunteers have been doing a great job of running the event. Race committee was always more than willing to fill up water bottles in between races, which is a crucial part of a long day in the heat. The umpires have been on their game making lots of calls and keeping the racing fair. On land the volunteers have also been awesome, helping with boat rotations, setting up lunch, etc. A lot of planning goes into organizing and putting on a regatta like this, so my hat goes off to everyone involved. Everyone has been extremely accommodating and made us feel welcome.
As far as racing goes today, we found our inter-team communication strong and all of our boats were on the same page with plays. When all three of our boats could get off the line clean, it usually resulted in a successful finish to the race. If you get behind from the start it makes for a difficult comeback with the high level of skills all the teams bring to this event. In addition to our strong communication we felt our boat speed was fairly decent considering none of our team members spend much time in V15s. Tomorrow, we’ll try to hone in on getting back to the basics with starts and getting off clean.
I’m looking forward to tomorrow and seeing how the teams that didn’t get in a lot of races today end up. You can follow updates on the US SAILING Twitter page;

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A College Sailor's Life: On the Road

By Kelly Stannard

I am currently sitting in the Charlotte Douglas International Airport waiting for my connecting flight to Houston to compete in the U.S. Team Racing Championship, a US SAILING National Championship event, for the George R. Hinman Trophy. It’ll only be a few hours till I am reunited with my teammates Cy Thompson, Tyler Sinks, Lucy Wallace, Charlie Buckingham and Alex Taylor! I am anxious and excited to get there and get out on the water.

Today competitors can check-in and have some time to practice before the event begins Friday.

It sounds like it will be a hot weekend and I’m looking forward to the challenging competition. Stay tuned for nightly recaps from Houston!

Monday, September 26, 2011

A College Sailor's Life: Wind Delays and Dinner Adventures

By Kelly Stannard

This weekend featured long drives and long wind delays for the Roger Williams Hawks. Our drive to St. Mary’s Friday afternoon inevitably became a 12 hour trip with traffic. Once we finally arrived at St. Mary’s, competitors were greeted with very light and shifty breeze both Saturday and Sunday. The conditions only permitted for two races in each division the first day and six races per division on Sunday. This, however, was more races than most events hosted up and down the east coast. It seemed everyone was greeted with less than favorable wind this weekend!

Even with the frustrating breeze conditions our team pulled of a fifth place finish overall. Winning the event was Connecticut College with the home team, St. Mary’s, hot on their heels. Rounding out the top three were the Boston College Eagles. At the sloop qualifier for nationals in Boston, our team consisting of Alec Anderson, Zack Shapiro, Annie Schmidt and Dylan Vogel, placed second. This secured us a spot for ICSA Sloop Nationals! Wahoo! Go team!

The long drive and long waits ashore allowed for lots of snacking and lots of homework to get done! Among our snacking was the quest for Domino’s Pizza on the drive home. This simple task of finding a store approximately 30 miles ahead on our route, deciding what we would get, which coupons we had, and how much we could get with the thirty dollars we had left from the weekend was not so simple. The back of the van inevitably disagreed with the front of the van and technical failure of iPhones and GPS’s aided in our many u-turns all over in southern Maryland. When we finally had ordered, found the place, and purchased our two extra large pies, we were unimpressed to say the least. Their website said our order would feed 18 people; well our motley crew of seven gulped it all down in about ten minutes flat. Despite the disappointing size of the pizza’s everyone seemed to be satisfied and we had some left over snacks to hold us over till we got home. With everyone’s bellies full the van went from a loud mess of arguing, to the munching of hot pizza, and finally to the silence of sleepy sailors.

I was not one of the sleepy sailors yet! I still had a 100 or so more pages of reading to wrap up. Luckily, and surprisingly avoiding getting car sick, I was able to polish this off by the time we reached New York City and eventually I was able to get little shut eye! I’ll need every bit of extra sleep I can get coming into another crazy busy week! I’ve got loads of assignments and I fly to Houston, Texas early Thursday morning to compete at the U.S. Team Racing Championship with my team, Minor Threat.

My next few blog posts will be coming to you from Houston. I’ll try to give you some short recaps of my firsthand experience racing in a US SAILING National Championship!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A College Sailor's Life: Getting Back in the Boat

Kelly Stannard will be sailing at the St. Mary's College
of Maryland Intersectional this weekend.
By Kelly Stannard

As you’ve learned from Monday’s blog entry, I was not able to practice or sail in last weekends events due to a concussion I sustained while sailing. To not sail with my team was a very different experience for me. To recover, I had to force myself to take a break; I’m always on the go. Regular days are filled to the max between being at US SAILING in the morning, to class, to practice, to team workouts, to team meetings, to the library, and finally to bed! I’m sure many college sailors can relate. Not being able to attend practice last week left me with a huge open space in my schedule which I used to rest and catch up on my studies, but now it’s back to the grind.

I was cleared to sail on Tuesday morning by our athletic training staff. This is terrific news! I find if I don’t have a little bit of sailing in my day I start to lose it and one week out was long enough. This week, so far, has been about easing me back into my usual routine. I took practice slow on Tuesday afternoon but I was quick to get back into the swing of things. Luckily my muscle memory for footwork in an FJ has developed and is strong from the last four years, which makes the short break not too damaging in that aspect. I was happy just to be out on the water to be honest, and I was feeling good! Wednesday was back to a normal practice and workout routine, both went smoothly. Today will be the last day of practice we can squeeze in before the weekend regatta, we’ll be on the road heading south during Friday’s practice.

That’s right! A group of the Roger Williams Hawks are flying south for competition. This weekend I’ll be at the St. Mary’s College of Maryland Intersectional at St. Mary’s. This event will have eight teams from MAISA (The Middle Atlantic Intercollegiate Sailing Association), five teams from NEISA (New England Intercollegiate Sailing Association), two teams from PCCSC (Pacific Coast Collegiate Sailing Conference), and two teams from SAISA (South Atlantic Intercollegiate Sailing Association). With competition coming from all over it should prove to be a challenging weekend of racing. I can’t wait! I will be part of the racing instead of constantly checking the team’s scores online from home like last weekend. Well, I’ll probably still be checking the scores online for the other events our team will be sailing at on my smart phone, but that’s beside the point! You can follow them too;

Fortunately, I was only out of my regular routine for a week. The University of New Hampshire Sailing team was out of their regular routine for the past year. The team endured a tragic fire which damaged their boathouse and boats severely. After taking a year to rebuild, in many ways, they are fully back in action. This weekend will be the first time that their new boathouse along with their new boats and new sails will be completely showcased to the NEISA community! I can only imagine how exciting this is for their team and everyone involved, I wish them luck!

I’ll be sure to fill you in on how the weekend went on Monday, I’ll let you know how our nine hour drive was, talk about the conditions and analyze the results!

Monday, September 19, 2011

A College Sailor's Life: Bringing You up to Speed

Kelly Stannard is a senior captain of the
Roger Williams sailing team.
Photo by Rob Migliaccio
Usually I would start my Monday blog by filling you in on how I sailed at the regatta over the weekend, but this week is a bit different. Two weekends ago, I sustained a concussion while sailing in a regatta. It was a breezy downwind and unfortunately my head got in the way of the boom. Yes, this really happens. Sailing is a dangerous sport right up there with football and lacrosse (in my opinion anyway ).This took me out of practice all last week and this past weekend’s competition. I am feeling much better and I’ll be good to sail this week and beyond. Hooray! So instead of giving you a recap of my regatta I’ll bring you up to speed on our team and my role on it.

I am a senior, one of our co-captains and a veteran crew on our team. As a captain I lead by example at practice and on land I have various organizing tasks to do for the team though out the season, and I attend the University SAAC (student athlete advocacy council) meetings. Each team on campus has representatives in attendance and together we work to make our athletics department better. Last year I sailed in A division for the team with my former skipper of two years, Cy Thompson. He graduated in the spring, so this year I am learning to adjust and sail with new and different skippers. Sailing with the same person for so long you stop having to talk about every single thing you do, you automatically know what the other person’s next move is, and your boat handling becomes extremely smooth together. This year I get the chance to develop this same comfort level with someone new!

The Roger Williams Sailing team just had a hugely successful spring 2011 season, which was highlighted by winning Team Race Nationals in our first time ever qualifying! I can’t describe to you how amazing it was to be a part of. This was a great moment for the team and the university. We definitely received more publicity than we were used to. That being said we have high expectations this year. It will be a challenge to keep up the high energy that we had spilling out of us after Nationals all the way through the colder months of the sailing season. Lots of hot chocolate from parents on the weekends will help…hint…hint.

We only graduated a few seniors last year but we will miss them all. We just completed our tryouts and have an extremely promising incoming freshman class. In addition it looks like the “Rog” might be creeping up in the Women’s rankings this year!

To stay on the path of completing all of our goals, it will take dedication from every single member of our team. When everyone makes it a point to take something away from practice each day it pushes everyone to a higher standard. It motivates each other to challenge their own limits. It’s this attitude in practice that will help us on the weekends. This thought process can be used by any team. The better quality of your practices, the better quality results you’ll see at events. It doesn’t matter if you are competing to be ranked first in Sailing World’s college rankings or if your just trying to get enough people on your team to fill an A division and a B division, the same rules apply. High energy, good practices, positive attitudes, usually results in better results!

Even though I wasn’t able to be out on the water this weekend it doesn’t mean I wasn’t hitting refresh on TechScore to follow my teams’ results. We sent teams to the Hatch Brown at MIT, the Nevins at Kings Point, the Mrs. Hurst Bowl at Dartmouth and the Central Series at Boston College. Our best finish of the weekend was at the Hatch Brown, we placed 3rd with the MIT Beavers finishing second at their home event and College Of Charleston Cougars placing 1st. For more results visit Not sailing is an odd concept for me! I never get a single weekend off throughout the season, so sitting on the sidelines is a frustrating role for me. Luckily I am good to go for this week and will be back to competition this weekend!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A College Sailor's Life - My Introduction

By Kelly Stannard
Kelly Stannard (left) is a two-time All-American
crew for Roger Williams University.

My name is Kelly Stannard and I am a senior communications major and co-captain of the Roger Williams University varsity sailing team. I have a busy and challenging semester ahead of me. As a full-time student, I’ll be applying my education in an internship with US SAILING’s communications department. My sailing schedule and training will also be at its peak this semester. To say the least my life is a bit of a balancing act!

The intent of this blog - “A College Sailor’s Life” - is to share my experiences as a college sailor and a student with readers. There will be a little bit for everyone each week, whether you’re a high school sailor deciding if college sailing is right for you, a parent of a young sailor, a fellow college sailor, a coach, or anyone interested in the sport!

I hope to share my stories from my weekend regattas, give some insight on the different venues we sail at, reflect on what it takes to stay on top of my studies, what it’s like to be a captain and sail for one of the top college teams in the country, what training is like, what decisions I have to make on the race course, what I do here at US SAILING, and anything else that comes my direction.

Stay tuned for my first “real” entry on Monday!