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  • Brandeis Sailing Goes North

    By Leah Finkelman
    October 15, 2010
    Section: Features


    Meghan Breslin-Jewer ’11 was an athlete all through high school, but she didn’t want to participate in a varsity sport when she got to Brandeis. She was at the activities fair when she discovered the sailing team and decided to give it a try.

    It was only two weeks into practice that she realized sailing was actually a varsity sport.

    Now, sailing is a club sport, but the team still competes strongly and takes practice and competition very seriously.

    This weekend, members of the sailing team will travel to Montreal with coach Tom Robinson to participate in the McGill Cup. The competition, called a regatta, will make them one of only a few Brandeis teams, varsity or club, to compete internationally: it is possibly the first international in-season competition, and almost certainly the first international in-conference competition, Club Sports Director Ben White said.

    McGill is the only Canadian sailing team in Brandeis’ conference, the New England Intercollegiate Sailing Association (NEISA).

    Each year, the team budgets for one overnight regatta, and last year they voted to attend McGill this year.

    “Being involved in this competition says a lot about how far our team has come,” said Treasurer Josh Basseches ’12.

    Sailing was a varsity sport for decades until 2009, when it was cut, along with golf, because of budget problems in the Athletics department. Both teams then became club sports, a change that Breslin-Jewer said hasn’t made much of a difference.

    The team still receives enough funding, it just comes from different sources. According to Breslin-Jewer, the team, like other club sports, gets funding from both the Athletics department and through the Club Sports Council, as part of the student activities fee.

    “Club Sports has been very helpful in including us,” Basseches said.

    The team is incredibly excited to go to Montreal, especially because of what it means to them.

    “We’ve had ups and downs in terms of our competitiveness, but this shows a lot about what we’ve accomplished as a team,” Basseches said.

    Six of the team’s 14 members will drive to Montreal, said Breslin-Jewer, now the president of the sailing team. The team will sail Saturday and Sunday, with continuous races, with two people in the boat for each race. Those two people, the skipper and the crew, will be in charge of steering, strategy and distributing weight in the boat for maximum speed.

    Sailing uses low points scoring, Basseches said, meaning that for each race, the team will receive points representing their place–one for first place, two for second, etc. at the end of the weekend, the team with the lowest points will be the winner.

    In order to prepare for the McGill Cup and the weekly regattas in which they compete, the team practices in the Charles River three times a week after classes with equipment rented from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

    “It’s a pretty big commitment,” Basseches said, explaining that the season lasts from September until November, and begins when “the ice melts on the river and we’re back in the water,” from March until the end of the year.

    Basseches became involved with the sailing club immediately upon arriving at Brandeis two years ago.

    Although sailing was then a varsity sport, the team had a table at the activities fair to attract walk-ons to the team, due to a lack of popularity. He knew how to sail, but had never raced before, and joined the team to try something new.

    Most NEISA regattas bring together between 12 and 20 different schools, including Harvard, Boston University and the University of New Hampshire, said Basseches. Because there are no divisions in sailing competitions, any school with a team may compete, Basseches said, and competitions are divided regionally.

    In general, the best and most well funded teams are varsity teams, he said, but that there were exceptions, including Boston University and University of New Hampshire, which have club teams that are among the top in the country.

    we’ve accomplished as a team,” Basseches said.

    Six of the team’s 14 members will drive to Montreal, said Breslin-Jewer, now the president of the sailing team. The team will sail Saturday and Sunday, with continuous races, with two people in the boat for each race. Those two people, the skipper and the crew, will be in charge of steering, strategy and distributing weight in the boat for maximum speed.

    Sailing uses low points scoring, Basseches said, meaning that for each race, the team will receive points representing their place—one for first place, two for second, etc. At the end of the weekend, the team with the lowest points will be the winner.

    In order to prepare for the McGill Cup and the weekly regattas in which they compete, the team practices in the Charles River three times a week after classes with equipment rented from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

    “It’s a pretty big commitment,” Basseches said, explaining that the fall season lasts from September until November and the spring season begins when “the ice melts on the river and we’re back in the water,” from March until the end of the year.

    Basseches became involved with the sailing club immediately upon arriving at Brandeis two years ago.

    Although sailing was then a varsity sport, the team had a table at the activities fair to attract walk-ons to the team, due to a lack of popularity. He knew how to sail, but had never raced before, and joined the team to try something new.

    Most NEISA regattas bring together between 12 and 20 different schools, including Harvard, Boston University and the University of New Hampshire, said Basseches. Because there are no divisions in sailing competitions, any school with a team may compete, Basseches said, and competitions are divided regionally.

    In general, the best and most well funded teams are varsity teams, he said, but he also noted that there are exceptions, including Boston University and University of New Hampshire, which have club teams that are among the top in the country.


    More posts by Leah Finkelman