As most sports move indoors this time of year, the St. Mary’s sailing team toughs out the cold. “It wasn’t too long ago that we all arrived on campus early to do boat work and prepare for the season. Now that our fall season is wrapping up I find myself in a dry suit all bundled up. But as our coach always says, at least the water is still warm,” says junior Sara Morgan Watters. The team concludes a most successful fall season: in a recent November national ranking, the coed team was ranked #2, while the women’s team was ranked #1 in the country.
Qualifying for each possible nationals event, including the men’s single-handed nationals, women’s single-handed nationals, and Sloops Nationals, the squad is proud of their accomplishments thus far. They were only one point shy of winning a consecutive Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association (ICSA) Sloop Nationals at the University of South Florida, and executed an exciting victory at the Co-Ed Atlantic Coast Championship, the most important double-handed event of the fall season. Junior captain Ted Hale says, “I feel like the regattas we’ve had so far this season have gone really well, we are always in contention for winning every event, and have come home with some W’s. I think the whole team and the coaches are really excited and looking forward to the spring season.”
The team has high expectations for themselves this spring with their sights set on San Francisco, the location of the 2009 ICSA Women’s, Coed and Team Racing National events. But to pave their way to the Golden Gate, they are firm believers in the adage “practice makes perfect.” “Our goals for the spring season will be to continue to get better every day. As coach Bill [Ward] says, we are not just competing on weekends, we compete every day at workouts and practice in hopes to work a little harder and get a little better than the other teams,” states Watters.
“Our biggest challenge will probably overcoming inexperience as we have a rather young but talented team,” says junior Jesse Kirkland. Graduating a whopping eleven talented sailors last spring, the team is indeed a young one. However, Coach Adam Werblow has faith in all of his athletes to keep the standards high. “Our team is 15% smaller and that means we don’t have a person to waste. If just a couple of people are doing less than their absolute best in our daily training; the results will begin to show it. St. Mary’s College Sailing has a tradition of excellence and we hope and intend to be one of the teams capable of vying for national titles later this spring.”
The new River Center is an exciting addition to the campus that will be extremely beneficial to the sailing team. “Our resources are more plentiful than ever and it is much appreciated by all the sailors,” says sophomore Michael Menninger.
The team is especially happy to have locker rooms for the first time, so that they won’t have to change out of their wetsuits in the frigid weather. But although this addition to the campus is much appreciated by the sailors, Werblow hopes that the entire campus community will make use of the new waterfront as well. “We hope the campus community as a whole couldn’t be happier with their new waterfront. This facility is for the entire college community and we are excited to see it come online and fully operational.”
This weekend the Possum Bowl took place, an annual alumni regatta in which undergrads also participate and look forward to greatly. Alumni from all across the nation flew in for the event to sail, reunite with college friends and teammates, and visit their beautiful alma-mater. During this time, the River Center and Rowing Center were blessed. With a great fall season and a stunning new facility, the team is rearing to go for the spring. “The River Center has brought a lot of excitement to the team which we hope to translate to wins on the water,” says Hale.