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.


  1. Kelly,
    Great blog post - especially the comentary regarding conditions, auto tacks, crew weight and general shiftyness. So many dinghy sailors complain unfailingly about shifty race course conditions and your post shows how competitive, fit, young, skilled (did I miss any adjectives?) sailors face the same challenges and overcome them. Congrats on your finish!

  2. Thanks for following the blog! It truly was a crazy day on the Charles with plenty of capsizes and if you weren't on your toes you were in the river!