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Sailing team opens spring season with best-ever finish at Graham Hall

April 7, 2017

For the sailing team, a high-stakes weekend of races approaches. Tomorrow, the team will compete in the New England Team Race Championships at Tufts University and its performance at this regatta will determine whether it heads to the Team Racing National Championships later this spring in Charleston, SC. In order to qualify for nationals, the team needs to place in the top four. While part of the team fights to sail in Nationals, the rest of the team will compete in a home regatta, held at the Coastal Studies Center in Harpswell.

The team has come back strong after its spring break training trip, beating Yale University, the four-time defending champion, in the Graham Hall Race at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis at the end of March.

At a team race regatta, each team has three boats competing. The team’s score is calculated by using the finishing places of each of the team’s three boats.

The teams race in one of two fleets: gold, which consists of the higher-performing teams, or silver. In order to establish which fleet a team will race in, all the teams race each other at the beginning of the event. Then the group is separated into the two fleets and the gold fleet races each other and the silver fleet races. Bowdoin has qualified for the gold fleet at every event this season.

Head Coach Frank Pizzo attributed the team’s strong start to its spring break training at Eckerd College in Florida.

“We were able to get in lot of racing. [The Graham Hall Race] was right after our spring break trip so the team was tuned up and ready to go,” said Pizzo. “We did some training against [Yale] in Florida so our team knows them a bit. We then lost to some teams that we should have won races against, but it was really good for our first event after the spring break.”

Last weekend the team took fourth place at MIT in a race of 16 teams.

Another contributing factor to the team’s success has been the strong team chemistry. Many top sailors on the team have been sailing together for more than two years.

“I think that experience really helps—of having tough losses and good wins. A lot of team racing is being able to communicate and being able to respond to setbacks. So I think the experience has been really valuable. We’ve had stability and experience,” said Pizzo.

There are also highly motivated first years and sophomores that keep the senior sailors on their toes and push them to stay on top of their game, according to Pizzo.

“We’ve been getting better every event and I think that’s really important,” said Pizzo. “It’s easy to plateau and get worse, but our results have been getting better and the results were at events where all the top teams are there so that’s pretty powerful.”

“We hope to carry the momentum from spring,” captain Dana Bloch ’17 said. “We want to compete at the highest level.”

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