Fall 2003 Newsletter

Varsity Round-Up

by Adam Abelson '05

This fall the team continued to show marked improvement. The season began at the Ocean County College Open, where Jed Drumm ‘05, Laura Jones ‘05, Adam Abelson ‘05, Claire Meyer ‘06, Powell Fraser ’06 and Page Dykstra ‘06 sailed to a 5th out of 12, jumping up several places with a bullet in B Division’s last race. The team had another strong showing at the North #1 qualifier at SUNY Maritime. The team of Brian Goodwin ’06, Hillary Frankel ’06, Adam Abelson and Claire Meyer sailed to a 9th out of 18, missing qualifying for the War Memorial by one place.

 The team had another chance to qualify at the Cornell Fall Open/North #2, where Adam Abelson, Claire Meyer, Lawrence Azzaretti ’06 and Lauren Racusin ’07 sailed to a 4th out of 10, solidly qualifying for a berth at the War Memorial. This season’s MAISA Championship, the War Memorial, was hosted at Hobart-William Smith on November 1-2. Challenging conditions of extremely light and variable wind on both days provided great competition. Adam Abelson, Claire Meyer, Jed Drumm and Elsbeth Field ’04 sailed to a 14th out of 16. Jed and Elsbeth, however, sailed a consistent regatta in B Division, coming out with a solid 9th of 16.

Various other regattas have given much of the team a chance to gain valuable experience. Lawrence Azzaretti, Lauren Racusin, Brandon Parry ’06, Will Benjamin ’07, Juliana Bennison ’05 and Emily Smith ’07 sailed to a 14th out of 18 at the Tom Curtis Memorial at Georgetown. Princeton Women’s was a successful event of six teams, where Princeton was represented by Laura Jones, Juliana Bennison, Emily Smith, Liz Gough ’07, and Natalia Balko ’07. The team held 2nd for much of the regatta, finishing the regatta in 4th. The large group of committed freshman sailors showed tremendous potential, sailing to 2nd out of 6 in B Division at the Coho Memorial at Webb Institute, and giving excellent showings at several other regattas.

A Date with Isabel

by Powell Fraser '06

The officers of the sailing team watched the Weather Channel nervously this September as Hurricane Isabel, a Category Five storm, churned across the Atlantic and began to threaten the New Jersey coastline. Hurricane and tropical storm warnings were issued for the entire eastern seaboard, reaching from Florida to New York, as this massive storm drove toward the coast.

As Isabel’s danger to our boats at the Raritan Yacht Club became more and more certain, the officers decided there was no time to spare in removing the boats from the docks in Perth Amboy and bringing them back to the boathouse at Princeton. With 72 hours remaining before the hurricane came ashore, the National Weather service began to predict winds in excess of 65 mph and storm surges over 5 feet as far north as New York.

After a meeting on Monday night, the team began an emergency marathon boat moving session to return all of the boats to Princeton immediately, hoping to accomplish a weeklong process in less than 24 hours. Numerous team members worked through the night into Tuesday morning, participating in shifts at both midnight and 6 AM. The final group retrieved the last four boats from Raritan on Tuesday afternoon, marking the completion of boat moving, normally a week long process, in less than 15 hours.

With two days left before the hurricane reached shore, we were able to relax in the shelter of our dorms at Princeton as other Raritan Yacht Club members fought for use of the crane and yard all day Wednesday. Some were unable to pull their boats out of the water. When Isabel finally struck on Thursday, eleven large boats broke from their moorings, the storm surge flooded the boatyard, and many pilings were turned into toothpicks by the relentless pounding surf. Thanks to a superhuman effort by the team, however, all of our boats were safe in their boathouse on Lake Carnegie. After the storm subsided, we were able to return to Perth Amboy and continue our practices as if nothing had ever happened.

Intersession Trip to Florida - Playing by the Rules

by Claire Meyer '06

Almost every Princeton sailor looks forward to the end of January, and not just because our exams are finished. Intersession, the week-long break between fall semester exams and the start of spring classes, is more than just an excuse to kick back and relax – for the sailing team, it’s a chance to escape the cold weather for Florida’s sunny beaches, palm trees, and smooth sailing with dolphins playing a few feet away from the boats. This year will be the ninth annual trip to Florida, and like last year, we will be renting a spacious condo on Sunset Beach, about 20 minutes outside St. Pete. Stephanie Doyle, women’s coach of the University of South Florida has again been very helpful and USF has generously agreed to let us use their fleet of FJs every day (except Sunday) from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm.

The difference this year? It will be the first Florida trip officially planned according to the Club Sports organization’s rules for team travel. Lawrence Azzaretti ’06 has put an amazing amount of time and effort into planning the trip and making sure that we are following all the necessary guidelines. As a result, a few things will be run differently this year, for instance, the bulk of the team will be flying down to Tampa, and once there, we will rent vans that must be driven by van-safety certified students over age 21, such as Elsbeth Field ’04 and Adam Abelson ’05.

Though a little more stressful (especially if you ask Lawrence), playing by the rules of team travel will be beneficial in the long run – we can enjoy the warm waters and sunny skies with no worries.

New Officers

Elections were held on December 1st. Congratulations to all those who ran and to all new and exiting officers. Officers for the 2004 seasons are:

Commodore: Powell Fraser ‘06
Regatta Captain: Liz Gough ‘07
Practice Captain: Claire Meyer ‘06
Fleet Captains: Brandon Parry ’06 and David Cobey ‘07
Treasurer: Lawrence Azzaretti ‘06
Secretary: Emily Smith ‘07

Freshman Perspectives

Thanks to exhaustive efforts by Laura Jones ’05 and Elsbeth Field ’04, among others, recruiting was an amazing success this fall, with almost twenty committed freshman sailors joining the team. Whether they are skippers or crews, have been sailing for years or never before stepped in a boat, almost all the freshmen agree – their lives at Princeton would not be the same without the sailing team. Here are the perspectives of two freshmen on teamwork, friends, and great experiences they’ve had with the team.

When I first saw sailing listed among the club sports at Princeton I said to myself that might be fun. I know now that I was mistaken – sailing here can only be described as a truly great experience. I signed up looking for an opportunity to pursue a fun activity that I had enjoyed since a young child, though only been able to do now and again in the summers. I found instead that I had joined more than just a sailing club; I had become part of a sailing team.

Here, as hoped for, you still gets to spend the brisk fall afternoons twice a week relaxing on the bay, carried along by a lively breeze, firmly in control of your life for those few hours with the tiller alive under your hand, away from the challenges and demands of the real world. This was the sailing that I had experienced and loved, yet this is only the beginning of the fun of college sailing. True to the maritime tradition sailing at Princeton is also about camaraderie, teamwork, and cooperation. The team members are almost universally friendly and open, readily accepting sailors of all levels of experience and regardless of age or class. As a freshman, one doesn’t feel relegated to a sub-team member level. Upperclassmen sailors are happy to relate their experiences to freshmen and explain which classes are good and what different departments are like.

Yet the team is not only a pleasant, accepting group of friends, but a functioning unit. Unlike my previous experiences, sailing is far from an individualized sport. Cooperation and teamwork are central aspects of the experience. From the first practices, balancing skill levels and weights, and helping less experienced members develop the skills they need; the team functioned as a unit. Teamwork and dedication allowed for the efficient transport of our boats to and from campus when hurricanes or the winter season required they be moved. Even getting to practice became a team effort, with some people volunteering to provide cars, others to drive, and others to help navigate. It makes me feel important, and part of a greater whole.

And in the course of the season as my sailing skills improved dramatically with the techniques I was learning, I found myself learning other important lessons as well. Sailing taught me also about trust. As a skipper there is something heart-warming in the trust of your crew, to know that he will move as is necessary to balance the boat or to help roll tack it; or to know that he trusts you, even when you tell him he needs to jump off the sail into the frigid water so you can right the capsized boat. It is the little things like this that have accumulated to make team sailing a truly great experience.

Alistair Boettiger '07

One of the best decisions I’ve made since coming to Princeton was joining the sailing team. I came to Princeton knowing that I wanted to sail. In fact, a sailing team was one key point on my prerequisites for my college of choice. I had never raced before, but I had taught sailing for four consecutive summers. Joining the team, therefore, was one of my easiest and most obvious decisions during Freshman Week. Once I started going to practice, I realized that racing is more different from teaching than I had anticipated. Fortunately, the team has a great coach and group of upperclassmen to teach new freshmen the key skills and strategies of college racing.

At the end of September, I went to my first college regatta, the MAISA Clinic hosted by Georgetown. This regatta was an excellent learning experience, giving participants racing experience without major pressure, because most of the participants were novices like myself. The team spent the first day of the regatta doing drills similar to ones we had done at practice and ended the day with a few practice races. On Sunday, we had a full day of racing to work on our strategies and tactics. I both learned a lot about racing at my MAISA Clinic weekend and had a wonderful time with the other team members.

Since that first regatta, I’ve been to one other regatta, Princeton Women’s, and I had a great time. Traveling to regattas with a few other teammates is a great bonding experience and an excellent way to make friends on the team. My first regatta experience basically sealed my fate with the team. I can’t wait for the start of the spring season and the next three and a half years of sailing at Princeton. I’ve learned a lot about college sailing and made some great friends throughout my first season on the Princeton Sailing Team; without a doubt, being on the team has been one of my integral freshman year experiences and I cannot imagine what the last semester would have been like had I not been on the team.

Natalia Balko '07

Reaching Out: Teams for Toys

by Laura Jones '05

This year, the sailing team participated in an annual program called Teams for Toys run by the Athletes In Action (AIA) organization. Thirty-five varsity and club teams and organizations will each receive a family or two for which they will provide gifts this holiday season. The sailing team’s family has four children, Jesus, age 10, Lynnea, age 5, Kionna, age 4, and Nezair, age 2, each with their own personalized wish list. “I really think this is a great activity to build team unity in the off-season” sophomore Claire Meyer commented at our meeting last week.

Not only did the team provide funding for the gifts, but they were also responsible for actually deciding which gifts to give each child based on the child’s wish list and for going out and purchasing them. On Thursday, December 11th after all gifts were bought, AIA held a holiday wrapping party in the basement of Frist Campus Center complete with refreshments, lights and music. This party really gave each team a more accurate picture of the amazing difference that the combined efforts of many individuals could make in the lives of less fortunate children. After each team had claimed their area for wrapping, the floor of the multi-purpose room was full of new gifts and scraps of wrapping paper and bows. AIA delivered the gifts a few days later to what I have been told were the glowing faces of 40 families in and around the southern Jersey area.