Transitioning from High School to College Sailing

Published on November 14th, 2013

Lydia Whiteford, a sophomore at Brown University in Providence, RI, shares what life is like on the nationally-ranked Brown Sailing Team…

I discovered my love for sailing when I began as a freshman on the team at Severn School (in Annapolis, MD). It was a huge transition for me at the time; trading in cleats, a lacrosse stick and lines on a field for boots, a lifejacket and shifts in the breeze. Luckily, thanks to the excellent mentoring I received from my coaches and teammates while at Severn, I was given the opportunity to pursue my new passion competitively in college at Brown University.

I remember going to my first day of sailing practice as a freshmen feeling confident, but now I realize that I was not totally aware that I was about to face another huge transition concerning sailing. The change from high school or junior sailing to college sailing is a bigger one than I think most freshmen know at first, but these are some helpful tips that I’ve come to realize with time will help any new freshman make it.

1. Prepare for Commitment –
High school and junior sailing is already a significant commitment to begin with, most new college sailors are used to the time away on weekends and long hours spent on the water practicing so this is not that big a shock to most. However, college sailing amps up the intensity to a new level. With practice every day and regattas most weekends, there is a lot of time allotted to being on the water. Then for most teams you have to factor in workouts, meetings, and travel time to your already jam-packed schedule.

It is also important to remember that practice is practice, and it is going to happen no matter what in most cases. There will be times you’ll find yourself sailing in the dark, in the rain, in the freezing cold and the more prepared you are, the easier it will be.

Time is not the only thing that will increase in necessity, either. Money also becomes a factor if your team is not 100% varsity. To ensure to yourself that you will have the proper gear, money for dues, and that you get to experience all the things the team can offer, good budgeting skills are handy.

Everyone upon leaving for college will tell you that time management is key, but with something that takes up as much time as college sailing it is crucial to think ahead of time about balancing everything to make your own life easier. We all put so much time into this sport because we love it, and with college sailing especially the more you embrace what is asked of you, the more rewarding it will be.

Read more here at Sail1Design.

Editor’s note: While this might not be the reality at every school program, it is the reality at the top ranked teams. Program intensity has certainly increased over time, which gives thought to whether program demands will ever reduce the length of the collegiate sailing season. While most sports remain active during the entire school year, are there other college sports that are officially competing from September through May?

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