How to Survive Your First Year of College Sailing
How to Survive Your First Year of College Sailing
As a part of our May issue's 2011 Guide to College Sailing, presented by Sperry Top Sider, we asked current and former college sailors for their best advice on navigating freshman year. We received two dozen entries, the best of which, by Tufts sailor Amelia Quinn, is featured in the magazine. But we couldn't let all this great advice remain hidden, so we've published the five other finalists online.
By Nick Stockton, Portland (Ore.) State ’10
I showed up to my first day of practice with nothing but a bad haircut. Since that day, I've been taught by the best, traveled to amazing venues, and been to some legendary parties, all for relatively little money. But chances are, you already know about the benefits of college sailing. There are no words I can give you that will ever compare to the memories you create in the next four years. However, I have learned some things that will prepare you to make the most of these your time.
College sailing is much more than going to class and then hopping in boats. Sailing makes college better, and college makes sailing possible. Finding the right balance will make you a better student, a better sailor, and bona fide social butterfly. However, if you don’t pay attention worlds will collide, and they could end up as a single, messy thing. It's like having a pet monkey: sure, you'll never be bored, but you'll also never know peace.
I have three very simple tips to share that will make college and sailing a productive combo.
1. Get your homework done before regattas. Taking textbooks along for the weekend is a total rookie move. The least they will do is get damp from getting packed next to your sailing gear. At the worst, you'll be distracted during races and feel too guilty to really enjoy the party.
Use each regatta as an extra deadline. This will get you into a great habit: not putting things off. If you are in the habit of using all your spare time during the week to finish your homework, you'll be pleasantly surprised at the free time you find has opened up.
If you do the opposite, and get in the habit of procrastination, you can count on missing regattas. You might have more time on your hands now, but the payback is always dear. As a wise upper class man on my team once said: “The best regatta is always the one you didn't go to.”
2. Get to know your district. Take advantage of the opportunities to bond with the people you sail with every weekend. This might seem simple, but you'd be surprised how fragmented the relationships between schools can become. Sailing isn't that big of a community, and you are racing against people you will know for years. Some of them will go on to be pros. Not only will you learn a lot when you trade tips and tricks with people outside your bubble, but these connections will come in handy when you and your non-sailing friends are on a summer road trip and you have connections in a faraway city who can put you up for the night and maybe even get you on a boat the next day!
Also, know the difference between a grudge and a rivalry. With few exceptions, these people are just as passionate about your favorite sport as you are. A grudge will only make you focus on how to make someone else do worse. It will make you bitter and isolated, and your negative attitude will affect your race stats and your teammates.
Conversely, a rivalry will make you focus on how you can be better. It will make you a better sailor, improve the stakes of the competition, and inspire some great pranks.
3. Make some non-sailing friends. College sailing can devour your life. Trust me. Eating, drinking, and thinking sailing 24/7 might seem like it is making you better, but you are likely on a path to burning out. Over-saturation will cause your abilities to plateau and eventually decline. Have some friends who know nothing about the sport. They will make sure you don’t turn into a social retard that doesn't know how to talk about anything but sailing. They will help you with your schoolwork, and provide helpful distractions to make sure you don't take this whole thing too seriously.
If you simply cannot keep your mind off the water, use your passion as an inspiration for school projects. I am a geography major, and I once did a project where I made a map of how the terrain around my local club affected wind velocity and shiftiness. If the project requires a presentation, this is a great chance to get people interested in your club. What's more, that cutie in the third row might even get inspired to ask you for a personal lesson.
Everybody says these are the best years of your life, and that's because it's true. These memories will be awesome, and I don't mean 30 years from now when you are reminiscing on your yacht in the Caribbean. Every Monday morning after every regatta is going you are going to feel like you are dreaming. Over the summer, you'll feel like a rock star when you brag to your brother. And the following year, when you are getting ready for the same regattas, your whole body is going to buzz with excitement. I hope this advice helps to make those memories positively glow. I'm sorry I can't help you with everything, but odds are that someday you'll decide to do something like showing up to practice with a mullet. Some mistakes you just have make on your own.