Nestled on the Eastern Shore of Maryland in Chestertown is Washington College. The small liberal arts college enrolls around 1,450 undergraduates. Less than a mile from the school’s campus, on the Chester River, is the varsity sailing team’s boathouse. The sailing team shares the boathouse with the crew team; each with their own designated spaces. A dock holds the team’s 18 brand new CJs, four 420s, and two Lasers.
Conner Blouin, a 2010 graduate of Washington College, joined the team as head coach in 2013. Blouin wanted to return to his alma mater due to his personal investment in the team and the school. “As someone who has had a good deal of success as a student and athlete, I knew it would be easier to show sailors what it takes to be successful academically and athletically at this [particular] program,” he says.
Blouin hopes his own achievements, as an undergraduate will serve to motivate the sailors. Blouin was a two-time All-American Honorable Mention, a First-Team Academic All-American, and he was part of the only sailing team in Washington College history to make it to the ICSA Coed Nationals.
Full-time assistant coaches Tom Pierson and Max Kurland (’11) support Blouin.
The team was elevated to varsity status in 1997, which, Blouin says, has helped them boost interest in the sport on campus. Sailors have access to athletic training and tutoring, and the team also enjoys financial stability.
The team practices four days a week and has weekly team workouts. As added fun, at the end of each semester the team competes with the coaches in a workout test to help encourage everyone to stay in shape.
In addition to physical fitness goals, Blouin is also looking to build a strong foundation for the team. Team culture, focus, and bonding are on the list. With these attributes, Blouin believes the regatta results will follow.
In the long term, the team is looking to qualify for multiple national championships and working toward being consistently competitive at these events. Blouin hopes to do this by developing existing talent on the team and continuing to bring in new talent.
Blouin says the school is under the radar—and the sailing team may be too. “At Washington College,” he says, “100 percent of our sailors go to regattas, and most of them get the opportunity to compete every weekend.”