Monday, October 31, 2011

A College Sailor's Life: Sailing in the Snow!

By: Kelly Stannard

As I said in my Thursday blog, this was a big weekend for schools in NEISA with both the co-ed and the women’s qualifying events for Atlantic Coast Dinghies. Both of these events were held in Boston, ladies were at Harvard, and the Schell was at MIT.

All over New England the weather was brutal, Saturday was one of the nastiest days of sailing I have been a part of in awhile. At Yale, racing was canceled due to white out snow conditions!

Tyler Macdonald and Jake Bartlein give
Coach a thumbs up. (Photo by Alex Rudkin)
At the Schell and the Urn it was freezing cold with pelting rain and big breeze on the Charles always means deadly auto-tacks are lurking on the course. I only sailed the first four races and luckily the rain hadn’t started yet. The rest of the day the heavy crews battled the elements and put up with the terrible conditions while we watched from inside one of MIT’s unheated boat bays. I’m not sure which was colder, sailing, or watching sailing!

For Sunday we had a delayed report time to allow for the wintery conditions to clear and make traveling safe! Who ever thought we would be dealing with a winter weather advisory before Halloween? When we got to MIT, the boats had snow on them and many competitors enjoyed tossing a snowball or two at their teammates. I was expecting another day of sitting on land because high winds were forecasted for most of the day so I made sure to pack plenty of warm layers again! It turned out that the forecast wasn’t too accurate and it was lighter breeze. I was able to sail all day in the 3-16 knot shifty winds; it was exciting and scary all at once. The top of the beats had some hairy shifts and large unpredictable puffs made for wild auto-tacks. It was absolutely crucial to be able to have inter-boat communication about the puffs coming down at you and to be on the same page to determine whether you’d flop right over or dig into the shift a little more before you decide what it’ll give you. My skipper Sean Bouchard, heavy crew Tyler Wilson, and I managed to figure out the ways of the river and we won A division by 30 points!

As expected the competition was tight for both events and unfortunately despite the wide talent pool at both the Schell and the Urn, only the top 7 from Schell and top 8 from Urn will move on to Atlantic Coast Dinghies. TechScore has full racing summaries and scores, The Roger Williams Hawks placed 5th at Schell and unfortunately we missed qualifying at the Urn by one place.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A College Sailor's Life: A Big Weekend for NEISA Teams

By: Kelly Stannard

This weekend is an extremely important weekend for all teams in New England. Both the co-ed and women’s qualifiers for the Atlantic Coast Dinghies (ACD) are taking place, the Schell at MIT and the Women's Victorian Urn at Harvard University. At the Schell, the top eight teams will advance to the ACD and at the Urn, the top 7 NEISA teams will advance to the Women’s Atlantic Coast Dinghies.

We’ve had some solid results at the Schell in the past. The last two years the Hawks have consistently placed 2nd and we won in 2006 in some epic conditions that were so windy the regatta organizers put the storm sails on the Tech Dinghies. Our women’s team has never qualified for the ACD but we are hoping to change that this weekend!

This is a time for the top NEISA teams to throw down and prove who the best of the North East is. For the Schell, Roger Williams we will be sending Alec Anderson, Sophie Bellacosa and Tyler Wilson to represent A division. Representing the B division will be Sean Bouchard, myself, and Jake Bartlein. Representing the Hawks at the Urn will be Haley Powell, Alyssa Seifert, and Jaye Fay in A division with Annie Schmidt, Wendy Reuss, and Rachel Perry sailing in B division.

Sometimes teams will break up their A and B division teams and send them to different events for the weekend but I expect each team to send their top teams to these two important qualifiers, it’ll make for some challenging competition. In the latest Sailing World Rankings, which came out October 13th, ten of the twenty co-ed teams are from NEISA and nine of the fifteen women’s teams are from NEISA. All eighteen teams at the Schell will be looking to make it to ACD and all thirteen NEISA teams at the Urn will be pushing themselves to go on to the WACD,  but only the top eight and the top seven will go on.

Many events this fall have had light and shifty conditions including the Hoyt last weekend, the Hatch Brown, the Captain Hurst, the Mrs. Hurst, the Moody, etc. I am hoping that the experience with unpredictable breeze has prepared the Hawks to perform on the Charles this weekend which notoriously brings some shifty and squirrely conditions. Our success at the Captain Hurst can be attributed to our team being able to stay focused and sail on the conservative side in the mentally exhausting conditions.  I think we will need to be in a similar mindset for this coming weekend.

There will certainly be a high level of competition this weekend and I’m looking forward to seeing how it all unfolds! You can follow the results at I wish us luck and I wish all my fellow NEISA teams luck. I’ll see you all on the Charles!

Monday, October 24, 2011

A College Sailor's Life: Light Winds and Rings

By Kelly Stannard

Another weekend finished leaves me with only three more weekends of racing for my senior fall season! It’s hard to believe how fast it goes by. For those of you who read my blog on Friday, you know I was at the Hoyt Trophy at Brown, hosted by Boston College.

At this event we had some trying conditions on both days. Saturday each division waited around for the breeze to settle and the first race started at 1 P.M., each division was able to get in four races.  We raced in 3-10 knots of breeze, and witnessed some 90 degree shifts swinging from North to West. After racing the Hawks, in record time, de-rigged and hurried back to school to get dressed up for our Ring Ceremony to celebrate our Team Racing National Championship in June. We got back to campus with only a half hour to get ready and look our very best in front of the many people who came out to celebrate. Guest s included, our University President, Vice President, Athletic Director, Assistant Athletic Director, parents (including mine), fans, friends etc., the list goes on and on.

Our Global Heritage Hall was the perfect setting for the ceremony with its great view of the bay and open space. Teammates, Alex Rudkin, Josh Gershuney and Mark Gargula spent the day making it look wonderful, they even managed to get one of our boats rigged up inside! It was a simple gathering with some great appetizers; some socializing and we re-watched Sailgrooves coverage of the final race against Boston College and our team celebrating afterwards. Even though I have probably seen the videos over 20 times they still give me the chills when I watch our boats cross the finish line in a 1-2  combo knowing we had won our first nationals. It was awesome to re-share the moment with everyone who came and to know that our school supports us so much. Although we didn’t get our championship rings Saturday night (there was a scheduling issue, they’ll be here by the end of the week) we finally saw what they were going to look like, they are pretty awesome. I can’t wait to get mine and wear it (pictures to come ASAP)!

After an exciting night with the team and dinner with my parents, it was back to Brown Sunday morning. A division set out and was able to get in one race before the breeze turned off. We had quite the long on-land postponement, giving us some time to toss a football and beat BC in a little parking lot soccer scrimmage. It was a 4 v 4 game with Aigle’s and sandals as make shift goal posts. The only rule was that for a goal to count the ball must pass through the “posts” on the ground. I got roped into this and played in my Ugg boots, not the best for soccer I must say, and the game got pretty heated! People lost their spray pants and traded them in for some athletic shorts and sneakers to try to get a competitive edge, unfortunately the sneakers weren’t enough for BC and they just couldn’t handle the soccer skills of RWU, we won 3-0. After everyone was winded from soccer we went back to tossing the football (I can say I successful learned to spiral a full sized football this weekend thanks to the help of my teammates). After we also grew tired of football we retreated to our van and had some pizza delivered.  A hot pizza lunch and some Orange Crush soda gave us just enough energy to go out for our last set.

B division went out for two races followed by A division finishing their last race just before the time limit. Overall we finished up in 5th place with Boston College winning, Yale placing second, and Charleston placing 3rd. It was another challenging weekend with light and shifty conditions but it should prove to be good practice for the Schell next weekend at MIT. 

At the Stu Nelson at Connecticut College our women’s team placed 3rd, also competing with fickle winds, at the Oberg we finished 9th overall, and at our home event we had three different RWU teams compete, they finished, 2nd, 3rd and 6th! Overall, it was another solid weekend for the Hawks.

Friday, October 21, 2011

A College Sailor's Life: We Can't Wait to Get our Rings!

Kelly and her teammates last weekend at Dartmouth.
By Kelly Stannard

This weekend I am happy to say I am staying in Rhode Island to race at Brown University, and competing for the Hoyt Trophy. This makes getting back to Roger Williams Saturday night a breeze! It is homecoming weekend on our campus and Saturday night the University is honoring our National Championship win at the ICSA/Gill Team Race Nationals in June. We will be receiving championship rings (well maybe ring pops until the rings arrive), while being acknowledged by the campus community, parents and friends.

Our team will be taking the same crew from last weekend to the Hoyt Trophy hosted at Brown, Alec Anderson, Sophie Bellacosa, Tyler Wilson (all three were NEISA sailors of the week for helping us win at Dartmouth last weekend) Sean Bouchard, Jake Bartlein and me. We are hoping that the six of us can keep the momentum rolling from our win last weekend and perform similarly tomorrow and Sunday!

For those of you who don’t know, Brown’s sailing facility has been Edgewood Yacht Club for years. Unfortunately, a tragic fire destroyed the historic club in January of this year. Not only did this have a tremendous impact on the Edgewood Yacht Club’s members it directly affected the Brown sailing team.

I talked with Colin Smith, a junior on the Brown University team about what it has been like this year and the impact its had on the team. The team had locker rooms on the bottom floor of the Edgewood Yacht Club where they stored their personal sailing gear. “The major bummer was that we lost thousands of dollars worth of gear. Everyone on the team was affected whether it was losing a pair of boots or all their private sailing equipment. The school has been very supportive and in the next few years we hope to have a new permanent facility that should be one of the best in college sailing,” explained Colin.

For the Brown team, “initially it was pretty tough after the fire,” he reflected, “we would have to change in our cars and couldn't get out of the elements. After a month or so of roughing it, the school bought us a large portable building that we use.” This portable building gave them some shelter from the chilly Rhode Island weather throughout the spring season.

I’m glad to report the Brown team has been able to prevail through this tragedy and they are looking forward to hosting the Hoyt this weekend!

My fellow Hawks are also competing at the ladies event at Connecticut College (the Stu Nelson), a team is going to the Oberg hosted by Harvard and we’ll have a team racing at home for the Southern Series event.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A College Sailor’s Life: Fall is officially here!

By: Kelly Stannard

Last weekend we were lucky as Mother Nature greeted us with a second summer for a few days, just to tease us. In New Hampshire this weekend, it certainly was not a second summer. It was chilly! Lots of dry suits were being pulled out of their warm weather hibernation to shake off the dust and keep many of us sailors in New England warm, myself included! I sailed at Dartmouth this weekend, competing in the Captain Hurst Bowl. While we were sailing, there was lots happening onshore. It was parent’s weekend at Dartmouth and as usual, Mrs. Hurst brought loads of delicious baked goods for competitors to enjoy. Parents brought more baked goods, hot chocolate, grilled food, and even candy to share with us. It was so nice to come off the water and be able to drink some hot chocolate to warm up, a special thank you to all of the Dartmouth parents.
The dedicated fans of Darthmouth cheer from ashore.

While most of us were trying to warm up in the heated bathrooms or by holding a hot drink, a group of young men from Dartmouth came down to show their school spirit for the sailing team. They had D-A-R-T-M-O-U-T-H painted on their chests and stood on the beach cheering their team on. It was pretty awesome to have some loud fans at a sailing event, it’s not often you have people chanting, “ease, hike, trim” or “tack that boat!”

With all of the distractions of chocolate chip cookies, welcoming parents, and the presence of some die-hard fans, we actually got some racing in too. Many events had trouble because of too much breeze, but we were shocked on Saturday morning when we arrived to see we had any wind at all! Dartmouth typically has extremely light and shifty conditions. Fortunately, there was great breeze, but the shiftiness was definitely still there. Saturday, our team had some up and down scores but we were all able to stay mentally fit when dealing with the huge pressure and angle changes out on the course. It wasn’t unusual to see at least two auto-tacks on any given upwind beat. The breeze picked up enough for heavies to get out there for two sets in the middle of the day, so I can truly say it was a whole team effort this weekend! Everyone we brought got to sail (Alec Anderson, Sophie Bellacosa, Tyler Wilson, Sean Bouchard, Jake Bartlein, and myself). Sunday, the gang came well rested and prepared for another long and mentally draining day of battling crazy shifts. Both our A and B boats sailed extremely conservatively. Things started to click, with the exception of our last set of the day, and neither of us placed out of the top 3. Being able to post consistent scores pushed the Hawks into first and we were able to win the event, and both divisions!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A College Sailor's Life: Light Winds Call for the “Bailer Game”

By Kelly Stannard

Well we just wrapped up another awesome weekend for the Hawks. All around I’d say it was a successful weekend for the team. Some standout performances should be mentioned, at the Moody, we won! At the Hobart Intersectional we placed fourth, with Andrew Tamblyn and Josh Gershuny winning B division! At the Navy Women’s Fall Intersectional we finished up in seventh with Annie Shmidt and Wendy Reuss placing third in B division.

I was stranded on an island off of URI somewhere in the Point Judith Salt Pond competing for the Moody Trophy, and boy was it a hot, which was nice considering its October! The weekend had light winds both days which we loved - both of our boats were on the lighter side. With the light winds it was shifty and made for some interesting racing.  URI is located all the way inland in one of the many salt ponds in the area, racing must be done outside the pond and rotations happen on a small island about half way out of the pond. It is a rocky and uninhabited, very small little chunk of land with lots of rocks and not much shade. We made sure to pack our own beach chairs to lounge in between our sets and soak up some of the last warm weather of the year.

On Saturday my skipper for the event, Alec Anderson and I found that our starts basically stunk. The line was fairly short and a port tack approach looking for a hole late typically didn’t work well for us. Luckily we had great boat speed and were able to squirt out off the line and tack our way into a nice lane upwind to get back into the racing. It was extremely shifty and keeping our heads out of the boat and constantly talking about the conditions kept us in the top pack.

Sunday the breeze was temperamental and didn’t fill until almost noon. This allowed for lots of “the bailer game” on the island. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this game it is a simple way to pass time and entertain a large group of sailors while they wait for wind. You take a bailer, place it about 5-10 yards away from you, depending on your rock throwing skill level,  and start to build support around the bailer with large rocks or sand. It is important to properly support the bailer so that when larger rocks get thrown it will not fall over. After the bailer is in place everyone picks up small rocks around them and the goal is to get your rock into the bailer. It’s amazing how long this can entertain people. Naturally the game progresses to throwing larger and larger rocks with increasing force, we inevitably ended up cracking several bailers this weekend.

After some quality time spent throwing rocks at a bailer, the breeze eventually filled and was even more shifty than Saturday! This kept everyone on their toes and it was fun conditions to race in for the last few races of the event. You really couldn’t ask for a better weekend of sailing, it was warm and sunny, I played games with a bunch of fellow sailors, and we won!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Collge Sailor's Life: Back in the swing of things

By Kelly Stannard

After switching it up last weekend with team racing in Houston, I’m back in Rhode Island and hitting the college circuit once again. Let me just say this week has been a bit chilly compared to the beautiful weather in Texas. I wore my dry suit to practice the last two days! They say it’ll warm up again in time for the weekend where I’ll be headed to the University of Rhode Island for the Moody Trophy.

I’ll be crewing for Alec Anderson in A division, Tyler Macdonald and Samantha Bobo will be sailing B division and if the breeze picks up we have two awesome “heavies” Tyler Wilson and Jake Bartlein. This will be an intersectional event with 11 berths from NEISA, 4 from MAISA, and 3 other invites. It will be interesting to see what conditions URI brings us this weekend. The last time I was there was for the New England Qualifier for Semi Finals in the spring and it was the windiest regatta I have ever seen in college sailing. I don’t expect this weekend to be nearly as crazy!

Getting ready for the weekends isn’t always just about on the water practice. Our team also has a fitness component to our schedule. We have morning work outs every Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 7 A.M. and it’s expected that everyone will try to get to the gym on their own time as well. We mix it up with what we do, on Tuesday for example we played a game of water polo. I personally just tread water and try not to get pushed under by the stronger more aggressive swimmers on the team! Not only is it a great work out its wildly entertaining to see a pool full of sailor’s attempting to play water polo. Over all we focus a lot on cardio endurance and core strength. To see that we are all on track with our fitness goals our coach, Amanda Callahan, administers a fitness test once a month.

It just so happens that she surprised us with one yesterday morning; these are our teams’ favorite at 7 A.M.! The fitness test consists of a timed 2 mile run, max amount of push-ups and sit-ups we can do and timed wall sit. For those who have bad knees or ankles the bike is the alternative to the 2 mile and you go for max distance within 20 minutes. To evaluate our tests our coach compares our numbers to those of the Army fitness scores and percentiles expected in our age group. For example to earn 100% in sit-ups you have to be able to do 80. Not only does she grade these she expects that we improve our scores over time. I wish she still had my first score sheet as a freshman four years ago to see how far I have come!

Lots of non-sailors don’t understand why you need to be physically fit to sail but anyone who has sailed dinghies competitively knows that after a long day in big breeze if you’re out of shape, you probably didn’t post any impressive finishes!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A College Sailor's Life - Reflections from a Special Weekend in Houston

By Kelly Stannard

I’ve had a few days now to relax and digest, so to speak, after this weekend. Team Minor Threat made our first appearance as a team at the U.S. Team Racing Championship for the Hinman Trophy and came away victorious. Several of our team members have individually competed in the event but this was our debut as team Minor Threat.

We got a lot of questions about how our team came together over the weekend. In college sailing all of our boats were each other’s main competition. Charlie Buckingham and Alex Taylor sailed A division together for Georgetown. Tyler Sinks and Lucy Wallace sailed A division for Boston College and Cy Thompson and I sailed A division for Roger Williams. Over the last few years our schools have been each other’s rivals in both fleet and team racing. We seem like a misfit team to most people because so many of the other teams competing in the team racing circuit join forces from the same college. Team Minor Threat went down a different route, the skippers got together and got to talking. Basically, they decided that we should join forces and see what we can do when we are on the same side; in a nutshell that’s how we became Minor Threat.

Individually, each of our boat pairs are extremely talented, we had no idea what we could do collectively. The Hinman was our second event sailing together, earlier this year we competed in the New York Yacht Club Team Race where we placed third, behind the Woonsocket Rockets and Team Extreme. We were all pumped about our finish at the NYYC Team Race because it was our first event together but we came to the Hinman with vengeance.

I feel a main part of our success this past weekend was our ability to stay focused and have fun with each other. All of us are busy with school, a “real job”, Olympic Campaigns, or searching for a “real job” so being together again for a weekend we agreed we wanted to make the most out of it. We put our team together to see what we could do and we proved that we could hold our own with some of the best team racing
The competition at this event was extremely challenging, the names you see on the list of competitors is remarkable, there are past and present Olympians, ICSA All-Americans and world champions. It was incredible to be a part of such a talented pool of sailors. Going into our first round robin, where each team races each other once, we knew that every team is good and went into it with an “each race is important” mentality. We finished 10-4 overall, which qualified us for the top six. Previous records were erased, leveling the playing field once again. We were pleased to make it through but knew we’d have to step it up the third day in the double round of top six teams if we had a chance for the title. 

I would say this was the turning point in the event for us. We certainly rose to the occasion when we went undefeated in the first round and only lost one race to Larchmont Yacht Club in the second round. Team Extreme was the favored team going into the weekend with their all-star team and experience together. In the first round robin against Team Extreme, they beat us with a good start. Our team struggled a bit with our starts in this round. We talked about what was working and what wasn’t and revamped our starting strategy for the third day. This revamp seemed to work and all of our boats were getting off the line clean in the double round of six. This was a crucial component of the equation against Team Extreme who typically have great starts.
We buckled down to the basics, were able to get clean starts, and from there, our individual boat speed in all conditions and our executions of the plays is what made us successful.

So, where do we go from here? Well, we all flew in from different corners of the country and we all flew back to different corners of the country! I went back to Roger Williams and college sailing, Cy and Charlie are back to the grind with their Laser campaigns, Lucy is starting her job as a consultant in New York City this week, Alex is back to her job in Boston, and Tyler is back to Cali where he has a month chuck full of job interviews.

This weekend I’ll be competing for the Moody Trophy at the University of Rhode Island. I’ll be blogging this Friday about our preparations for this Intersectional Regatta.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Reading the Tell Tales: Taking Cues From Your Child to Develop Success

By Jessica M. Mohler, Psy.D., CC-AASP
Clinical and Sport Psychologist
United States Naval Academy

The summer sailing season has come to an end. You may be attending your end of summer banquet or barbecue, and talking with instructors and coaches about how your child did in their summer sailing program. You may have some hopes or expectations about your child’s experience based upon your own observations or conversations you had over the summer. You may also have hopes or expectations based on a comparison between your child and another or with a sibling, but how do you really know what to expect? As discussed in my previous articles, your child’s finish around the race course or end of year regatta tells you very little about your their development. So as parents, what can we expect our child to learn from the sport of sailing? Ginsburg, Durant, and Batzell (2006) suggest six areas of development for parents to consider when trying to understand and learn about their children:

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A College Sailor’s Life – Winning the Hinman Trophy

By Kelly Stannard

In the third and final day of the U.S. Team Race Nationals, team Minor Threat really pulled it together all the way to the end. Starting off the day early, the race committee immediately jumped into the first round of final six. We went undefeated in this round. After this first round was completed, the consolation round hit the water. After they were unable to complete the round, they sent out the top six for their second round. We only lost one race to Larchmont Yacht Club.

They tried to wrap up the event with the finals but light shifty breeze prevented this from happening. They called it off at about 5:00 P.M. Team Minor Threat was victorious!

It felt amazing knowing that we had won. Our team was able to stay focused from the long day and got off the line clean in our races, a nice change from yesterday! Our team dynamic is great. Each one of our boats comes from a different college sailing background. Cy and myself sailed together at Roger Williams, Charlie and Alex sailed together at Georgetown, and Tyler and Lucy sailed together at Boston College. The diverse range of previous team racing experience gave us an edge when we combined all our favorite moves and strategies. It’s interesting to see what each of our boats brings to the table, and together we work super well.
The race committee, the Houston Yacht Club, US SAILING, all of the many volunteers, the umpires, and of course the fellow competitors made it an incredible event!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A College Sailor's Life - Day Two at the U.S. Team Race National Championship

By Kelly Stannard
Team Minor Threat had somewhat of a laid back morning today which was nice... well sort of!  Yesterday ended with race 52 in the first round robin and our next race was not until race 79. We were able to get an extra hour of sleep and there was no huge rush to get to the club early. Racing for the rest of the teams got started around 10:00 A.M.
We spent our time on land tossing a football, reading, catching up with our competitors and watching some of the races. The teams who sailed in the morning had some big breeze, which again died down a bit in the afternoon when our team hit the water.
We had three races to finish our round. The first race was a tough loss to Boston BOOM, when two of our boats were over early. We fought back hard and almost had it around mark 3 with a play 4 but we fouled and had to spin, loosing the ace. I think sitting around on land hurt us a little.  We all agreed that we’d spend more time warming up before our next set of races to get us back into concentration mode. After that we bounced back with two wins over Pretty Good Thirds and SoCal Trojans. After our three races, we were back to the waiting game to see if the race committee could pump out the last 20 or so races to finish up the first round robin, and move into the next stage of the event.
Race committee was able to finish up the single round robin of 105 races. Tomorrow they’ll split up the fleet into a top 6 and bottom 9. Hopefully there will be the same great conditions tomorrow to finish up the event! You can follow the scores on the US SAILING’s Twitter page:!/ussailing.