I took my time getting through college. Most people who went to school for as long as I did are usually well on their way to a doctorate. Spending six years at two colleges probably wasnt the most efficient path to the bachelor of science in information systems management I received last June, but it did allow me to get the most out of my studies and my sailing. Between the racecourse and the classroom I gained a much richer education.
For starters, college sailing allows students a few hours of release from the pressures of school. I think Id have gone crazy if I hadnt been able to consistently get on the water. Of course, theres a downside to this escape. Attending distant regattas can take a toll when papers are due and exams near. But experiences like that teach you, occasionally the hard way, how to budget your time. As I write this, Im trying to balance two jobs, a Farr 40 campaign, and a 49er Olympic campaign (www.49erRacing.com).
Of all the souvenirs I have from the three years I spent sailing for UC Santa Cruz, the lasting friendships I made are the most valuable. This group of lifelong friends includes teammates and opponents. Together we created some great memories, both on and off the water. I remember, with equal affection, the time I spent hanging out around a campfire at the North/South Regatta, and competing against 100 other sailors from the United States and Japan at the biennial Goodwill Regatta.
Sounds pretty good, doesnt it? A great way to spend four, or five years. So what is it that a young sailor should look for when applying to college? A top-20 team? An ideal sailing location? A great fleet of boats? A rock star coach? Nope, none of these. Sailing is secondary. First, make sure the college is right for you. If you dont enjoy the school, youll be wasting your time. And if youre unhappy, you probably wont sail well anyway. A junior or senior in high school should be thinking: What school will best suit my social, academic, or geographic interests? Where will I be happiest? What do I want to get out of my college education? Who am I going to the prom with?
The sailing? Thatll take care of itself. Your experience will be whatever you choose to make of it. I should know. After graduating from Santa Rosa Junior College, I enrolled at UCSC where there was a small but vital team. With some help and a lot of effort, we built the team into a nationally ranked squad. My senior year, I was honored with sportsman of the year awards from my district and the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association. These awards signify that my love for the sport and dedication to enjoying it to the fullest were recognized by my peers and coaches. I cant think of a higher honor.
As you read Sailing Worlds third annual Guide to College Sailing, think about what you want out of your college experience. But no matter what your goals are, whether you want to earn All-American status, win a national championship, or just learn how to roll tack properly, make sure you take the time to meet as many people as possible. The relationships you make during your college sailing career will last a lifetime.