Co-Ed Sailing | Sailing looking to build on successful 2011 campaign
Published: Thursday, September 6, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 6, 2012 07:09
The co-ed sailing team will look to build on last year’s success as they kick off the 2012 campaign with a busy weekend. The Jumbos’ top dinghy team will travel to New Haven for Yale’s annual Harry Anderson Trophy, while former New England College Rookie of the Year junior William Haeger will lead a crew of four racers to Maine’s Maritime Academy in the Colgate 26’s.
Haeger’s crew will consist of junior David Liebenberg on bow, junior Paula Grasberger on pit and sophomore James Downer on main. The regatta up north is a preliminary qualifier for the New England Sloop Championships.
“Last year was a success, and we’d really like to build on that,” sophomore James Downer said. “Sailing is very much a network team. We have great guys on this squad, and it’s really easy to improve personally when you’re surrounded by incredible people.”
Last year’s team featured a healthy mix of youth and experience. The combination of veteran talent with boundless potential catapulted the Jumbos to victory in the Wellesley Invite and allowed them to appear at the Gill Dinghy National Championships, hosted by the University of Texas.
However, entering this year, the state of the team is in flux. Many top skippers will be missing a lot of time sailing sloops and single-handed’s, meaning that they will be unable to compete in the dinghies, Haeger explained.
“I’m excited to see who’ll step up in dinghies this fall,” Haeger said. “We have a lot of depth on the team and it’ll be interesting to give more people an opportunity to sail at the higher level regattas.”
The team will also face a large turnover, which means that many crew members will be competing to find a place on Tufts’ largest athletic squad.
“We graduated some key teammates last year,” Haeger said. “So the goal for the fall is to get back up to speed and compete to win as many regattas as possible at every level.”
While much of the team’s fate this year remains uncertain, the Jumbos draw stability from their longtime coach, Ken Legler. In his 32 years at the helm, Legler has built Tufts into a perennial contender. He maintains that, at its core, sailing is supposed to be fun, and his philosophy has propelled the Jumbos to 19 national championships.
“Ken’s great. He’s been around over 30 years, so you could definitely say he’s really experienced,” senior tri-captain Natalie Salk said of Legler, who has helped 92 Jumbos reach All-American status in his tenure. “He’s a great coach. He’s spent the majority of his life coaching this team.”
As always, sailors will try to balance team goals with lofty personal ambitions.
“For me, I would love to get more time sailing and more racing time,” Downer said. “I was a walk-on last year, so it’s important for me to keep getting better as I go.”
“We hope to qualify for both the Women’s and Co-Ed Atlantic Coast Championships at the end of the season,” Haeger added. “Personally, my goal is to be competitive at dinghies and to win the [national match racing (sloop) championship], the one sailing championship Tufts has never won.”