Hike Harder, Do Better
Hike Harder, Do Better
Juan Maegli, two-time Olympian and the 2013 College Sailor of the Year, managed to balance an Olympic campaign with a successful college sailing career. His secrets? First, if you don’t feel like sailing at 100 percent, don’t sail at all; second, invest in a hiking bench.
College of Charleston senior Juan Maegli wrapped up his second Olympic campaign last August, placing ninth among the world’s top Laser sailors—before heading back to campus to launch a college sailing season that would culminate in the highest accolades. Even though he took many weekends off to unwind and pursue his Olympic program, he was named College Sailor of the Year for his dominant performance at the events he did attend—much to his surprise.
What was it like for you to be named College Sailor of the Year?
JM: When I came back after the Olympics, I didn’t know if I wanted to do another year of college sailing. I wanted to take a year off, and in the end I ended up sailing a little bit … I asked for a lighter fall semester, just because I’ve been sailing nonstop for the last two years. So, my biggest goal when I decided to come back for college sailing was to try to win College Sailor the Year—well, to just try to have a good season, where I would be in the running for it. Just to be able to achieve that was pretty cool, and it being my last college regatta and everything, it was just awesome to finish it that way.
Did you expect to be named College Sailor of the Year, after your crushing performance in A Division, where you won by 41 points? Not to mention the fact that you won the Singlehanded Championship in the fall.
JM: No, I wish I was expecting it a little bit! I had no idea, because that semester I didn’t even do any other fleet races, so I just wasn’t expecting it. I mean, I did well at Nationals and everything, but I just didn’t do many other things. My teammates kept saying I was going to win, but it just never crossed my mind I was going to. I wish I would have listened to them and I could have prepared something to say, because I’m so bad at talking in public. I was like oh, shoot, what do I say!
Do you think that all of your Olympic training over the two years you took off helped you this last year of college sailing?
JM: I think so. One of the things I got pretty good at is peaking at the right time. Even though I would have a bad result, I would try not to think too much about it because there are other details you’re trying to get better at. So, I would go into an event saying, ‘Okay, I’m going to practice my pin starts,’ and then try to win the pin. So, I would evaluate an event depending on how I did in that aspect, not in the result, and that would let me peak at the right moment, so to speak. So, that’s one of the things that definitely helped a lot. And then the other thing is that we, for once, had a windy regatta at a College Nationals, so I guess that sailing Lasers helped a lot.
What one specific thing were you consistently doing around the course better than everyone else? You had only two finishes out of the top 10.
JM: We knew that we had good speed upwind, so that would give me the opportunity not to risk much at the start. I could risk less, and then once I found myself in a good position, I would just have to do whatever other boats were doing, because if I could stay with them, I knew that I was going equally as fast upwind with the heavier teams. I was sailing very light with my crew, so we could cruise on the reaches and on the downwinds. Instead of making decisions because I wanted to get first to the top mark, if I got to the top mark in the top seven, I would have a very good race.
What would you say you did that made your speed so much better than everyone else’s?
JM: Well, my crew was hiking really hard! I sailed the first day with [Septima McAdams], she’s a freshman at the College of Charleston, and then for the other two days I sailed with [Corinna DeCollibus], and they were both hiking really hard. It made it easier for me to just keep pushing hard, just to see how hard they’re working.