This past weekend, the Bowdoin Sailing team competed in the Team Races of New England Championship at Connecticut College, finishing fourth overall. For the first time in program history, the coed team qualified for the Team Race Nationals which will be held in Newport, Rhode Island on May 25-27.
Coach Frank Pizzo noted the difficulty of qualifying for the national championship and praised the team’s continued growth. Only four teams qualify out of approximately 50 from the New England area.
“Almost every year, the same teams qualify because they have this really good culture and knowledge base that perpetuates [them], and that’s been a hard group for us to break into until this year. To get to this event, it [took] years of building the culture and the knowledge.”
“We’ve had lots of ups and downs in the last four years,” said captain Louisa Lindgren ’19. “But I think we’ve all learned a lot. We’ve all put pretty much everything on the line for this past week, and then it paid off at the end, which is really nice.”
Lindgren pointed to a positive team dynamic as one of the reasons for the team’s success this year.
“I think something that we focus on a lot, especially this year, was having trust in your teammates, and being held responsible for doing your job on the water and being able to trust your teammates to do their job,” she said.
From now until nationals, the team plans to refine its strategy on the water.
“The nationals are at the end of May, so we have a lot of time to improve from here,” said Pizzo. “There’s a lot of the mental parts of the game that we need to get better at, like setbacks from tough races or setbacks from tough umpire calls.”
Captain Matt Kaplan ’19 is looking forward to the competition. Over the next few weeks, teams from across the nation will compete in their respective qualifier matches.
“I think we can always get faster. We can always work on speed, boat handling, and communication,” said Kaplan.
Sailing in Maine is different than elsewhere and provides a unique set of challenges for New England competitors. The team struggles with low temperatures and high winds.
“We practice every day, but we certainly didn’t practice as long as we would have if it was warmer out,” said Pizzo. “For our guys and girls, they have the right mentality and the right gear to deal with that. When we go to other places and it’s cold, I think other teams sometimes have an adjustment to that, [but] we’re very much used to it.”
The women’s Team Race Invitational takes place this coming weekend, followed by the women’s Reed Trophy at MIT on April 20 and 21. The Polar Bears will compete at home for the New England Dinghy Championship on April 27.
“If people get time off during Ivies, they can come watch us sail,” Lindgren said. “[It] might be better than some of the concerts.”