Following a third place finish at the New England Championship qualifier, four members of the sailing team will conclude their fall season by competing at the Intercollegiate Sailing Association (ICSA) National Championship this weekend. The team, composed of Alden Grimes ’21, John Seider ’22, Meghan Gonzalez ’23 and Tbo Antonietti ’24, will travel to St. Petersburg, Fla. to sail against Division I programs such as Georgetown University and Stanford University.
The ICSA Selection Committee chose each participating team, a departure from the process of qualifying in previous years. The selection process allows for results from qualifying races to be weighted with team performance in past regattas.
Gonzalez described this championship as a chance for redemption after Bowdoin’s last performance at the 2019 ICSA National Championship.
“Two years ago, when we qualified, we fell short and didn’t do that well. So it’s going to be a good goal to actually keep our heads in it,” Gonzalez said.
Luckily for the team, multiple factors are in favor of its success: Head Coach Frank Pizzo is coming down to St. Petersburg to advise the team, and the sailors will be using the same boats they used in the qualifying rounds.
However, the Polar Bears have faced unique obstacles in their path to the national competition.
“I actually hurt my thumb, so I had to have my hand wrapped for all the [qualifying] races,” Gonzalez said. “I only had one hand, so the first couple races were just figuring out how we can still sail with me not really being able to do anything on the boat.”
Gonzalez’s hand injury forced the Polar Bears to readjust their roles in the boat, which Seider viewed as a chance for quick thinking and team adaptation.
“The positive was that we had this tough start, which we had to battle back from,” Seider said. “We call it ‘firefighting,’ where things explode and go wrong and we have to sort them out. So, we got good practice doing that early on in the regatta, which helped us later.”
To build on the practice that the team received from its unusual experience at qualifiers, it has spent the past week rigorously preparing for the upcoming national competition.
“We’ve been doing a lot of video work and reading up on different strategies,” Gonzalez said. “We’ve just been trying to focus on what we did well two weekends ago and what we can do better [at nationals].”
Seider hopes the team’s recent efforts to reform connections severed by COVID-19 will be fruitful in guiding the team to success at the national competition.
“We’re all super close, but we obviously haven’t been together in the last two years,” Seider said. “We’ve made a big push this semester to rekindle the individual relationships and get back into the swing of the college sailing season.”
The team is optimistic about what this weekend’s competition has to offer in terms of its camaraderie and the promising weather forecast.
“We’re excited to get some sun—and get back in the boat together,” Seider said.