Nov. 15, 2012
Former Boston College sailor Taylor Canfield is making a name for himself on the professional sailing circuit. He is currently ranked ninth in the world in match racing by the International Sailing Federation.
Match racing, which Canfield began competing in as a junior in high school, is a one-on-one race between two boats. The head-to-head nature of these contests is perfect for Canfield, who BC sailing coach Greg Wilkinson says is extremely competitive, almost to a fault.
"He has really good feel for the boat," Wilkinson said of Canfield's talents. "You have to make the boat go as fast as it can and he has a very good feel for making it go fast."
Canfield believes that it was his upbringing that gave him that feel and is his biggest advantage. He grew up on the island of Saint Thomas in the Virgin Islands and has been sailing since he was six. He had easy access to the water and the nice weather provided good conditions year round. There was no offseason.
Becoming an Eagle was an easy choice for Canfield because he knew he would get a great education while also continuing to do the thing he loves. Before graduating in 2011, Canfield became one of the most decorated sailors in collegiate history, according to Wilkinson. He won national championships in four different disciplines including match racing in 2010. That same year, and in 2011, the team also won the co-ed national championship, which Canfield said was the highlight of his time in college.
The co-ed championship is so special to Canfield because Wilkinson emphasized the importance of team at BC.
"Coach put the team in front of the individual," Canfield remembered. "It was a great mentality to be a part of. It was a great approach and it helped me to learn from others and teach others on the team. It was very conducive to becoming better overall."
According to Wilkinson, Canfield is the first of his former sailors to pursue a career in organized sailing. Even when recruiting Canfield, he knew he was looking at somebody special.
"I got to see him match racing and it was pretty clear he was extremely good at it," Wilkinson said. "We had an inkling of how much he could do."
With all the success that Canfield has had, it comes as no surprise that the most challenging part of sailing for him has nothing to do with being on the water. Instead, it is the travel that tests him the most, as going from place to place for events can be draining.
Canfield is the founder of Canfield Racing, a team that he has put together in the hopes joining the World Match Race Tour in 2013. Wilkinson says it is similar to the PGA Tour in golf. Being on the tour would pit the team against the world's top competition and provide an opportunity to win larger cash prizes. In September, the team won its first U.S Match Racing championship in a U.S sailing event in Marblehead, Mass.
"We are biting at the heels, hopefully moving up in the world to number seven with the new rankings," Canfield said. "I have a great group of guys sailing with me and we are happy to be where we are."