The Bowdoin sailing team opened its season with five regattas in one weekend and finished with mixed results. The team placed as high as first of eight teams at the Phil Harman Cup hosted by Maine Maritime Academy, and as low as 12th of 13 teams at the Toni Deutsch Regatta hosted by MIT. However, since nationals are not until the spring season, the team does not place high priority on races at this point in the season.

“We’re pretty heavily in the development stage right now,” Head Coach Frank Pizzo said. “But that’s no different from the team at this point in past years.”

“Right now we’re focused on the process of getting better,” Captain Hunter Moeller ’17 said. “We’re really trying to focus on working hard at lifts, working hard at practice and working on communication on the water. It’s all process-oriented at this point in the season.”

Many of the early season regattas are a big part of that process, as they provide the new members of the team a chance to gain valuable experience out on the water. 

“Each year we have an influx of people who don’t know how to sail, so these first few weeks become a time of learning for them,” Captain Dana Bloch ’17 said. “We’re all trying to teach them and help integrate them onto the team and create an environment where everyone feels motivated to work really hard.”

Despite participating in five regattas in a single weekend, the team was able to stay organized and remain a cohesive unit. Two of the events this weekend were at Maine Maritime, another two were in Boston—at MIT and Harvard—and the fifth took place at Yale.

“We target these specific events because they are in close proximity to each other,” Pizzo said. “We know we can get a lot of people sailing and our coaches can see a lot of races, so it’s great experience and helps the team stay together.”

Pizzo chooses who races at each regatta, and there are a number of factors that are behind each decision.

“We know that certain hosts are really good at running events, so sometimes we want to expose somebody to a specific venue,” he said. “Other times, it’s about getting people experience. It’s also about rewarding who’s sailing well and having them sail at the best events—and I would say this changes on a weekly basis.”

Although seven team members graduated last spring, the team has an experienced senior class poised to fill those roles.

“One of the strengths of the team is that we have a really deep senior class that has done a ton of sailing for Bowdoin,” Pizzo said. “We have a lot of really great, supportive senior leaders so that’s huge for us because they are able to help us build the culture that we need to build for our team.” 

However, Pizzo also noted several areas where the team needs improvement.

“I would say boat speed and starting are big focuses for us. We’ll chip away at those areas for now and get to where we need to be,” said Pizzo. “We have a full year to develop, which is a huge advantage as compared to a lot of other sports."

The team hopes that making these improvements over the course of this year will yield the desired results come spring.

“Our ultimate goal is to place well at nationals at the end of the season,” Moeller said. “In order for us to be successful we just need to keep working hard.”

The team will travel across New England this weekend for three more regattas taking place at Connecticut College, MIT/Boston University and the University of Vermont.