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!

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