Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Jan T. Friis Trophy Team Race

Seven Michigan sailors left Ann Arbor at 2 PM on Friday, March 21st for Boston to compete in the 34th annual Jan T. Friis Trophy team race . Team members stayed with teammate Braden Engstrom's family, and upon arriving at 3 AM after a long night of driving were pleased to meet the affectionate and unbelievably soft family cat.

The regatta was originally scheduled for Tufts but relocated to Harvard due to ice covering Mystic Lake (the latest on record).  A full round robin rotation was completed on Saturday, with Michigan sailing nine races against competing teams. The wind was blowing strong and steady all day, making for some very exhausted sailors upon returning to the Engstrom's that night.  They were fed a delicious dinner and went to bed early to prepare for the next day of racing.

Sunday showed similar conditions to the day before, with winds blowing WNW steadily between 5 and 15 knots.  The team tied with the U.S. Naval Academy for ninth place, but overall the regatta was excellent practice against very competitive varsity teams.  Team members left Boston early in the afternoon and were able to make it home before midnight.

Thanks again to the Engstroms for hosting us, and Go Blue!

-Sarah Sloan, '16

Monday, March 24, 2014

Freshman Icebreaker Regatta

The lovely freshman gentlemen of Michigan Sailing journeyed to the University of Notre Dame this past weekend to compete in the infamous Freshman Icebreaker Regatta. The regatta, which is only open to first-year collegiate sailors, is held on St. Joseph Lake, which is likely the only lake currently thawed enough to race on in the MCSA.

Freshman Mitch Kimball, James Hewitt, Tyler Davidson, Zach Nerod, Nick Lipinski, and Cooper DePriest left Ann Arbor Friday evening, stopping briefly at Salvation Army on the way out of town.  They arrived in South Bend late in the evening but still in time to mingle with other new collegiate sailors, as well as perform tasks to win merit badges for the Boy Scout themed regatta party.

The freshman woke up bright and early Saturday for the first day of racing, with the winds on St. Joe's being characteristically shifty and dead.  They donned the suits they'd acquired at Salvation Army the previous night in order to emulate the Men of Industry they will undoubtably become. Despite cold conditions, morale stayed high and the boys improved throughout the day as they regained their sea legs after a long winter off the water, with B-fleet sailors James Hewitt and Tyler Davidson staging an impressive comeback late in the day as they went from being in last by six boat lengths to catching a breeze and passing the entire fleet while rounding the mark, finishing nearly a full minute ahead of the second place boat.

Sunday conditions were much of the same, with almost all of the freshman arriving at the correct report time.  They wrapped up the day with more improvements, and good times were had by all.  

-Sarah Sloan, '16

Friday, March 21, 2014

Sailor Spotlight: Karinne Smolenyak

With the spring season officially underway, we'll be spotlighting a Michigan sailor each week alumni and friends can get to know the team!

          Sailor: Karinne Smolenyak, '14
          Hometown: Charlevoix, MI
          Major: Political Science and International Studies

Karinne started sailing at a young age, spending many vacations on her family's boat.  She didn't begin dinghy racing until joining the University of Michigan Sailing Team, but has since competed in more than thirty collegiate regattas, including nationals in 2012 and semi-nationals in 2013. Her hard work and dedication to the team paid off last December when she was awarded the Most Valuable Crew award at our annual team banquet. Karinne's favorite sailing memory was attending a regatta at Stanford over spring break and sailing with "seals perched on buoys and swimming all around the boats".

Karinne is graduating a year early this May and will be sorely missed next fall, but we wish her all the best as she becomes a University of Michigan (and sailing team) alumnus!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

New England Team Race: March 15-16

Six dedicated Michigan Sailors skipped the St. Patrick's Day festivities and took the road for New London, CT to sail at the Southern New England Team Race March last weekend. After a twelve hour drive, we arrived at teammate Sophie Lucente's house just across the border in Rhode Island at around 2 a.m.  The next morning we awoke bright and early and drove to Connecticut College's sailing center only to find, for the first time UofM Sailing history, we were not only the first people there but an entire hour early.  We shook off the rust after a long absence from competitive team racing (Baseline Lake still has nearly two feet of ice) and ended the day with a huge win over Boston College, who were in first place at the time.

That night we had an awesome dinner at the Lucente's, attempted to study, and went to bed exhausted after a long day of sailing.  The next day we were in the bottom four and had some very competitive races with Boston University, Coast Guard, and Washington College.  Overall, everyone showed huge improvement over the course of the weekend as they slowly got their sea legs back and this season is sure to be a successful one once as we spend more time on the water. A huge thanks to the Lucente family for housing and feeding us all weekend!

-Thomas Etheridge, '16

Monday, March 17, 2014

Photos from the Early Days of the Michigan Sailing Team

We just received some amazing photos from Carey Jones of the Michigan Sailing Club capturing the early years of Michigan sailing. A few are featured below, but head over to our facebook page to look through the entire album!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Harken Prize

The team was fortunate enough to receive gift bags and a banner from Harken as a prize for winning their competition on Facebook for what MCSA team could have the most members like or share a post from the Midwinters conference in Chicago this past January.

Harken graciously send all 46 active team members gift bags that included a koozie, sticker, and keychain block, as well as a Harken banner that we're excited to hang in our new boathouse upon its completion this summer.

Thanks Harken!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Spring Break Training Trip

Twenty Michigan sailors decided to forgo the traditional college spring break trip and instead spend the week sailing FJs at the Norfolk Yacht and Country Club in Norfolk, Va.

Team members arrived between 9 PM and 4 AM at the home of co-captain Tom Etheridge on Sunday night, just in time to watch the end of the Oscars. After an exhausting day of driving, team members were quick to fall asleep, stomachs full of delicious brownies prepared by Mrs. Etheridge.

The team evidently brought Michigan's winter weather with them, as the temperature dropped from seventy on Sunday to below freezing Monday.  The hail and snow made it impossible to sail, so sailors spent the day catching up on homework and listening to captains give chalk talks on tactics for crewing and skippering FJs in heavy winds.

Tuesday we were able to get out on the water at NYCC, which graciously allowed us to use their fleet and facilities. The temperature was cold but spirits were high as many sailors stepped into a boat for the first time since last November.  The day's drills focused on getting those new to sailing FJs comfortable, and pairing veterans with newer sailors to improve skill levels.

Wednesday saw an increase in temperatures with winds between 15 and 25 knots.  Sailors practiced tacking drills, sailing up wind and downwind, starts, and even got a few races in at the end of the day. Freshman sailors showed incredible improvement from the beginning to the end of the day, even beating some of the top skippers in regattas at the end of the day.

The wind picked up dramatically Thursday, with gusts reaching above 30 knots. The sun made an appearance during the morning session and the team got great heavy wind practice, as well as the opportunity to go on reaches longer than the width of Baseline Lake.  Three boats had the opportunity to sail with members of the Old Dominion University team in late morning, and the rest of the team watched on from the coach boat, gaining valuable experience by observation.  After lunch and a brief chalk talk, six brave boats returned to the water to get team racing practice in.  The afternoon saw many capsizes and swamped boats, but the practice was invaluable as the ice on Baseline doesn't look like it will melt any time soon.

The captains decided to send the team home a day early due to a nor'easter, which would have made it impossible to sail, coming through on Friday.

The team is enormously thankful for the hospitality of the Norfolk Yacht and Country Club and Matt Graham, who volunteered a his time to coach us during the duration of the trip. We also owe a huge thank you to Dr. and Mrs. Etheridge, who housed us, fed us, and made sure there was always vegan, lactose free, and gluten free options at meal times, a very difficult task.  The training trip would have been impossible without their generosity and the team is extremely grateful.

Overall, the trip was a great learning opportunity for new team members and a beneficial experience for the more seasoned members of our team, and will surely show its benefits as the spring season picks up and sailors are able to use their newly learned tactics and skills at regattas across the country.