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Monday, Feb 26, 2024

Middlebury sailing team begins their spring season

Members of the sailing team on Lake Champlain.
Members of the sailing team on Lake Champlain.

The Middlebury College sailing team rang in the spring season with sailors traveling all across New England to compete at various regattas. 

The sailing team, composed of around 25 members, competes in the New England Intercollegiate Sailing Association (NEISA), a division of the Intercollegiate Sailing Association (ICSA). If weather conditions allow, the team typically travels and competes at regattas each weekend against other schools in the region. The team’s spring season started the weekend of March 12, and this past weekend, Middlebury sailors competed in the Alymers Trophy hosted at Salve Regina University in Providence, R.I.

“Overall, we feel decent about this regatta,” said team commodore Will Procter ’24. “Even though we didn’t place well, everyone was happy with their performances.” 

Spring season runs until early May for the sailing team, but most sailors are yet to practice in the water due to frozen waters at Hopper Family Sailing Pavilion on Lake Champlain. Despite this challenge, the entrance of new coach Matt Harrison has the team buzzing about their prospects this season. 

“We’re just all really excited to get practicing, because for pretty much all of 2022 we couldn’t practice any drills, so nothing really improved,” Procter said. “It was like if we could get out on the water and even just sail around back and forth, it was a success for us since it was just ourselves running practices.”

Their previous coach resigned suddenly to pursue another job in the winter of 2021–22, and since then filling the role has proven difficult. The team spent the past two seasons without a coach, and is now rebuilding their team following the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“This is our first semester with our new coach. The past two semesters, last spring and the fall, we didn’t have a coach so we were coaching ourselves as well. We had to be in charge of everything that a coach is in charge of like safety, managing practices, trailing boats, organizing regattas,” said vice commodore Annabelle Wyman ’24.5. “We’re very happy to have Matt now.”

They plan to compete at three more weekends of regattas this season, including the 2023 Little 3 Regatta hosted by Middlebury on April 29. 

“I’m looking forward to the Little 3 Regatta in particular since I think that our sailing venue is one of the nicest around, and it's fun to show it off to the other teams,” said Will Tella ’25, a sailor on the team.

The sailing team hosts a regatta each spring and fall, but canceled their fall event due to a lack of wind, resulting in the loss of a tremendous effort put forth by parent volunteers, coaches from other schools and the team itself. 

Despite the competitiveness of sailing, the team welcomes newcomers and less experienced racers.  

“Whether you have raced competitively for years or just want to get on the water to experience Lake Champlain, there is opportunity for everyone on campus to get involved, both throughout the fall and spring,” sailor Will Levy ’25.5 said. “The racing team competes in a highly competitive environment comparable to other Midd athletic teams, however, there are numerous opportunities for sailors of all skill levels and interests.”

Sailing holds recreational sails every Friday at their facility for those with no prior experience. They provide equipment needed for students and encourage everyone on campus to engage. Those interested can fill out an interest form at go/ahoy.