College Sailing Spotlight: UCSB

For the sailors at University of California Santa Barbara, it's all about achieving goals and having fun, while keeping it competitive at the national level.

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USCB Gauchos sailors practice in Sunny Santa Barbara Harbor.Robbie Johnson

The University of California Santa Barbara sailing team’s sailing venue is straight out of a movie about California — palm trees, sandy beach, ocean life and marinas. The team’s facility is 10 miles from campus at Santa Barbara Harbor, where the school leases a dock and the team is able to store its 18 FJs, four 420s and six Capri 14.2s. “It’s a three-minute sail to the Pacific Ocean, and the UCSB waterfront facility is situated in the harbor, which is an ideal practice venue for flat-water conditions, or we can get ocean conditions right outside the breakwall,” says head coach Brad Schaupeter. Depending on the time of year, the conditions also vary, from steady ocean breeze in the fall to light air and flatter water in the winter.

In addition to Schaupeter, the team has Willie McBride and Nick Kaschak in supporting coach roles, but the sailors take on much of the work themselves: organizing travel to regattas and fixing boats. They also work with the coach on a practice curriculum and university-required administrative duties. The coaches can therefore focus on coaching, recruiting, fundraising, and long-term program development and planning.

“The regatta schedule is one weekend on and one weekend off,” says Schaupeter. To be eligible to compete in regattas, the sailors are required to attend a certain number of practices and workouts. The team practices on the water Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, and gets together once a week for workouts. “Each player sets goals for his or her season, but typically they fall into four overarching categories: to learn, do well in competition, enjoy a team atmosphere, and have fun,” says Schaupeter. These elements are generally incorporated into the team’s daily, weekly and monthly goals.

“The Gauchos are a club team that has strength when the students take on leadership. The team excels due to everyone stepping up and filling a role,” says Schaupeter. Because the team is run on a tight budget, help from the sailors and volunteers allows the focus to be on sailing and having fun. “It is the team working together that has created the outstanding environment of support and competitiveness,” he says. “This has spurred the team on to strong national results.”

— Jennifer Mitchell