Bowdoin College christened their new sailing facility and venue this fall, and it includes everything they need—and nothing they don’t. The Charles M. Leighton Sailing Center – named in honor of Charles M. Leighton ’57, the founder of the Bowdoin Sailing Team – is 20 minutes from campus situated on Harpswell Sound. The sailing team moved from their old venue at Bethel Point to join the Bowdoin Coastal Studies Center, which has over two and a half miles of coastline and a 155-foot pier – excellent for spectators.
The building includes a large classroom, coaches’ office, locker and bathrooms. The team also has a large barn on the property where they can store all of their boats and gear in the offseason. During the season the team keeps their 18-FJs and motorboats on their docks.
“We have a versatile venue that provides a variety of conditions and never freezes in the winter, despite our northern location,” says head coach Frank Pizzo. Pizzo graduated from Bowdoin in 2006 and has been coaching the program for seven years. “I enjoy working with and learning from smart and driven people every day. Students at Bowdoin are ambitious, they work hard, are very driven, and want to succeed,” he says.
“Bowdoin is a very special place that offers an incredible education and a chance to be part of a diverse and motivated community, and its support of the sailing program has been invaluable,” says Tom Peabody, Bowdoin’s assistant coach. Peabody also graduated from Bowdoin and he is in his first year of coaching for the team.
Sailing was such a positive influence on both Pizzo and Peabody’s college experience at Bowdoin that they could not resist the chance to return to the team. “Maine is also a spectacular place to call home,” says Pizzo.
The team has three-hour practices three days a week on the water and in season the team has mandatory workouts Wednesday and Friday mornings run by the strength and conditioning coaches at the school. In the off-season, the sailors have voluntary workouts, run by the strength coaches, which include speed training and a free weight routine.
“Most of our sailors have done a fair amount of racing prior to joining the team. We do take a limited number of walk-ons each year, some with little or no prior sailing experience. The walk-ons that stay with the team are very athletic, have played other team sports in high school, are ambitious, and are eager to learn a new sport in college,” Pizzo says of the make-up of the varsity team.
“We really focus on having the team just try to get a little bit better at each practice and regatta and try not to focus on the results, at least in the early part of the year,” Pizzo says of the team’s concentration. “The goal is to get the entire team to be improving as a group and push one another to succeed both on and off the water,” he says. “Bowdoin kids are great students and we try to take advantage of that.”