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Women's Sailing Prepares for National Championship Run

Senior Caroline Drury

Senior Caroline Drury

March 26, 2014

Written by senior Kristen Scott

The goal is clear: Win a National Championship. Boston College women's sailing teammates Caroline Drury, Elizabeth Barnard, Allison Ferraris, and Ally Donahue resounded in their aspirations to bring home a title.

"Everything we're doing is building up to Nationals," said junior Barnard.

"As a senior, I want to leave an impact and win nationals in my last year. I sail with [freshman] Ally Donahue, and I want to teach her what I can to improve the team for years to come," Drury said.

The last time the women's sailing won a ICSA/APS National Championship was 2012. Through March 12, the team was ranked sixth in the country. The 2014 ICSA Sperry Top-Sider National Championship runs from May 26-June 6 at Navy.


Junior Elizabeth Barnard

To make it to the national championship, consistency is necessary. Remaining consistent from race to race requires mental strength and resilience. Barnard and Donahue talked about the importance of staying the course during the spring season.

"We've really been working a lot at being consistent and disciplined. Because there are so many races that you add up together, taking it one race at a time is a good thing. You can't get down on yourself because of bad times or finishes. Just get right back at it. Each race is a new race." said Barnard.

"Something my dad has always said to me is that you can win any college regatta if you place all top fives. You need to stay consistent throughout the whole regatta. For us, we're trying to apply that and also stay consistent throughout the entire season," Donahue said.

Team racing is a different type of racing than the individual racing BC sailing competed in during the fall season. Throughout the entire offseason, the Eagles met to go over plays and strategies to adjust to the change in racing style. The women credit the preparation that head coach Greg Wilkinson provided.

"Greg is always happy to answer questions. It's a really big learning process. It's important to put in the time off the water, but to also take what I've learned into effect during practice," said freshman Ferraris.

"There's really no other school that compares to what they do here. Greg does everything. He'll work with you individually, as a boat, as a team, just everything," Donahue said.


Freshman Allison Ferraris

New England springs hardly guarantee warm weather and smooth sailing. The team has to tailor its practice and training to ready itself for any type of conditions. Over spring break, the team traveled to Miami to train.

"Every day that you go sailing is different because so much depends on the conditions, so you kind of have to be ready for anything," said Barnard. "When the time comes at regattas or at Nationals, we can't control the conditions, but we can definitely control how we prepared."

"We have to use our time wisely at practice and know what we have to get done each day. We have to make the most of the time we have on the water. Our first practice we were only out there for an hour, but we worked on one thing and got really good at it," Drury explained.

Barnard and Drury also talked about the depth of the women's team and the variety of skill each teammate brings to the table to make the team successful.

"One of the strengths of our team is that we can sail in really wavy or really windy conditions, but also when there's basically no wind," said Barnard. "That's a testament to our coach for preparing us to sail in any condition."

"It also speaks to the depth of our team as a whole," Drury added. "There are 38 people on our team, and we're only as fast as our slowest boat. The depth of our team and the vast capabilities we have is what makes us great as well."


Freshman Ally Donahue

In addition to depth, the women's team also has youth. Out of 22 women on the team, 14 are freshmen and sophomores. The young talent on the team hopes to contribute to the Eagles' run at a national championship.

"As a freshman, my biggest goal is to learn as much as I can from the upperclassmen. The best part about being on this team is that everyone is so incredibly talented and I learn something new every single day. I'm trying to absorb as much information as possible," said Ferraris.

Donahue's older brother, who graduated from BC in 2012, was a member of the sailing team that won nationals. The historically strong sailing program at Boston College was the reason Barnard chose to come to The Heights.

"The history of Boston College sailing attracts people to come sail here. Once they're here, they want to accomplish the same things that teams in the past have," Barnard said.

Qualifiers for nationals, the Conference Championships, are April 18-20 at Dartmouth. At the Conference Championships, the women's sailing team will race against other New England teams, including rivals Dartmouth and Yale. The team will be on the water racing every weekend until the end of the season.

"Staying disciplined will be our biggest challenge this spring. It's a long season and our biggest regattas are at the end," said Drury.

"Staying mentally tough is really important. It's only March, and we have to be at our very best at the beginning of June. So, we have to keep working so that we can peak at the right time," Barnard added.

Ferraris described the unbridled dedication the women put into making the team successful through the season.

"A really great part of this team is that we have a team mentality over a bunch of individual mentalities. Everyone has to be really mentally prepared to do what they need to do to contribute to the team," Ferraris said. "I have to be ready to be called in to sail at any given moment. We really have the mindset that no matter what your job is, you have to approach every day the same way and give it your all."

"We were super productive in the fall in terms of bringing the team together, whereas the spring consists more of working toward nationals. We're excited about where we are at the beginning of the spring. We can use the base that we made in the fall to continue to peak at the end of May for nationals," said Barnard.

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