The Life of a College Sailor

Published on April 10th, 2017


Rebecca McElvain

Rebecca McElvain was on the powerhouse Point Loma High School Sailing Team (San Diego, CA), and is now a sophomore at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. Here she shares a look at the life of a collegiate sailor.

What was the transition to collegiate sailing like?
My high school team was very disciplined, and we happened to have a very similar schedule to college sailing as far as practicing every day and putting a lot of time into our practices and our regattas. I think that made the transition into college sailing much easier for me because college sailing is so time-consuming.

Can you describe your training, both in and out of season?
In season, it is a lot. We have practices four times a week and regattas every weekend. We usually get two weekends off in the fall. The offseason is a little more relaxed. We will have three lifts a week and some meetings once a week to talk about sailing and strategy.

Spring is our championship season, so we will have nationals in June, and that is where all of our practice comes together. Spring is a little difficult. The winter weather makes it hard to practice in New Hampshire, but we travel to Boston twice a week to get in the time we miss here. It is a lot of time commitment, but it’s worth it.

How would you describe the dynamic of the team?
In my two years here, I think this year the team has been by far the most determined and disciplined. We have made the biggest improvements because of that. I think that we are a lot more confident this year as well in our ability to have a chance at winning nationals, which is pretty huge. All-in-all, we are a family-like group. We are all friends but we push each other a lot too, which is good.

What has been the most challenging aspect of sailing?
I think the most challenging aspect is being able to stay level-headed, especially with team racing. You will see other teams’ boats yelling at each other between races. It’s very easy to be frustrated when things don’t go your way. There is a lot of bad luck to be had with sailing — a lot of things that don’t work out the way you want them to. Obviously, conditions also make it challenging.

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