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Sailing's Reineke Adjusts to High-Pressure Races to Win Big

Reineke is preparing for the next Olympics, as well as upcoming races with the Eagles.

Reineke is preparing for the next Olympics, as well as upcoming races with the Eagles.

Nov. 18, 2013

Written by senior Kristen Scott

Erika Reineke went into the 2013 Singlehanded National Sailing Championship with a chip on her shoulder. Reineke, now a sophomore on the Boston College sailing team, won the event as a freshman. This year she was determined to win it again.

"Mentally there was a little more pressure on me since I won one last year, and this year I was going back to defend the title," said Reineke.

Throughout Reineke's college career, she has mainly sailed double-handed boats, so preparing for a single-handed event had its own unique challenges.

"The terrain was a lot different than what I had practiced in, so that was a little bit challenging to get used to again. Single-handed is very physical," she said. "When I'm not practicing in the boat, practicing in the gym is extremely important. Gym work, I would say, is the most important thing."

At the end of the first day of the two-day race, Reineke stood in second place. Her mindset for the second day was focused on securing her spot at the front and finishing the job. The goal for Reineke is consistency. With back-to-back championships, she has achieved just that.

"It's pretty cool. I was really happy," said Reineke on her consecutive championship titles. "It just shows that hard work pays off. The whole team supporting me and pushing me through everything has been awesome. All of my gratitude goes to them and [head coach] Greg Wilkinson."

Reineke has a bit of coaching experience on her resume as well. In the summer of 2012, she traveled to London as a sailing coach in the Olympics. Reineke's friend was a member of the Virgin Islands sailing team and elected her to come with her to compete. Experiencing the Olympics first-hand will help Reineke in her own Olympic aspirations.

"It was an eye-opener," she said. "For the next Olympics, which I'm training for now, it reminded me that I need to treat it like another regatta," she said.

Seeing the Olympic athletes composed under pressure inspired Reineke to work on her mindset.

"Going forward, it'll help me in my campaign because I know I'm not good in high pressure situations yet. I need to get better at letting things go and just going to perform instead of thinking about the end result," said Reineke. "It eases the tension. If I make this Olympics, I'll know what it's like to be there," she said.

While Reineke is training to qualify for the next Olympic Games, she's also working hard to help her BC team succeed. Training for both is extremely demanding, but Reineke's positive attitude shows how much she loves the sport. "I usually tell myself and the team before we're launching, `Remember to smile!' And it just eases the pressure," said Reineke. "Even though it's a competitive sport, it's supposed to be fun, too."

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