Making the Transition

Published on November 16th, 2015

2015-11-16_14-33-52Stanford University sophomore and sailing team member Elena VandenBerg learned to sail on the Severn River and Chesapeake Bay. When she first started sailing in Annapolis YC (AYC) Wednesday Night Races with her dad on a J/105, she says, “My mom asked me what I had done, and I said, ‘I pulled on the green string!’ I’ve learned a lot since then. Now I trim the kite and occasionally critique my dad’s tactics!”

Here is an excerpt of an interview with Elena in the November 2015 edition of SpinSheet magazine….

Tell us a bit about your experiences sailing at Stanford.
It was an easy transition since there are lots of former AYC junior sailors on the team, including four of us who are all classmates. I started my freshman year skippering, and then I started crewing a bit last spring to learn more from the upperclassmen and to compete in some coed regattas. I am now skippering and crewing this fall. It has been beneficial being able to switch back and forth, because it has made me a better sailor.

What are the three pieces of sailing gear you can’t live without?
My Kaenon sunglasses are definitely the piece of gear I value the most. I recently bought some new Zhik boots that lace up the side. The extra ankle support helps me hike, especially while crewing… I’m still wearing my Extrasport RetroGlide Avenger lifejacket. They don’t make them anymore, but all of my friends who have them haven’t found anything as nice or as comfortable. Come on Extrasport!

What advice do you have for competitive high school sailors?
Keep loving sailing and working really hard at practice! I loved sailing in high school… I found myself on the waterfront everyday whether or not I had practice… cleaning my boat, fixing something, checking my settings, bugging my coaches to let me go sailing on our off days, or just paddleboarding. Keeping the passion for sailing is huge, as a lot of kids in high school can get burnt out. In terms of college recruiting, email a lot of coaches and send them a short resume with your top results. They won’t reach out to you, so start sending emails your junior year and making connections.

Full interview… click here.

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