Sounds of “Roll Pios” echoed in my ears as I drove back from North North Regatta in Seattle, the last sailing regatta of my college career. Over the past three and a half years at Lewis & Clark, I have sailed on and off with the Sailing Club and served as a co-captain this semester, along with Lachlan Anders-Macleod ’21 and Ben Carsner ’20.
Our club competes in the Northwest Intercollegiate Sailing Association (NWICSA) district, which consists of the University of British Columbia, University of Victoria, Western Washington University, University of Washington, University of Oregon, Oregon State University and Portland State University (PSU). Since there are no divisions like in NCAA college sports, we compete against teams of all different sizes, which can be a challenge. In the past, we have had solid membership and interest for our practices on the Willamette, but it has been difficult to bring a full team of at least four people to regattas.
This semester, we had a strong turnout for the club from the beginning of the semester. We practice three times a week at Willamette Sailing Club, often sailing with the local high school team or PSU’s sailing club. Because of the strong commitment from our members, we were able to attend almost every major regatta this semester, culminating in North North the weekend before Thanksgiving. The regattas we attend consist of two fleets, a generally more experienced A fleet and a B fleet. The two groups alternate racing, usually completing two or three races before switching off. Each boat gets a score for the place they get in their races, with the goal of getting the smallest combined score in A and B fleet to win the regatta.
I am impressed with the enthusiasm and excitement the club members have shown throughout the semester, no matter what new skills we worked on and despite our underdog status in the district. The hard work really paid off, as we placed seventh out of 11 at North North. This might not sound like much, but this is quite an accomplishment for a small team. In addition, we got first place in A fleet. Our place in the regatta earned us the chance to compete at the Harris Kempner regatta in Galveston, Texas next semester, which is an exciting opportunity to travel and compete outside of our district.
My favorite thing about our sailing club at LC is that we have sailors of all levels, from those who have never stepped foot in a boat to those who have years of prior racing experience. This semester was full of excitement for our club, with coaching offered by a local sailing foundation to racing larger boats on the Columbia, to making connections with sailors from other colleges in our district. Although I am sad to graduate and not compete anymore, I could not be more proud and excited for the future of the club and I cannot wait to see how it grows and changes over the next four years.