Sailing aims for new horizons
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The Tulane sailing team operates in limbo. It is a club team in a sport not governed by the NCAA yet competes against varsity programs with what members feel are inadequate resources and coaching.
But even lacking these same resources that other teams can rely on hasn’t stopped the women’s team from qualifying for nationals.
Club Vice President Miia Newman stressed that despite the fact that the team has achieved much at a high level this year, the members of the team —20 to 25 consistent sailors, many of them freshmen— have had to build from the ground up.
“We put in a lot of work, practice-wise. You come into college sailing usually having sailed, so you build on that more,” Newman said. “Maybe you don’t have the funding, so you don’t go out of conference, but you do the most with what you have. We sail every week and we’re at a regatta every weekend.”
While the Tulane sailors compete frequently on the water, Club Secretary Malcolm Kriegel said the team has had to learn how to self-correct, usually without the guidance of a coach.
“The issue that we have with funding is the coaching,” Kriegel said. “Other than that we can better ourselves to a certain extent.”
Kriegel has been a part of the sailing team since his freshman year and has tried to utilize the knowledge gained from observing other universities to help grow Tulane’s team. With significant experience at hand, Kriegel believes he has found a solution.
“The model that I have been looking at is the University of Wisconsin model because they’re a club and they’ve been doing pretty incredibly well for a club team,” Kriegel said. “They have a really good attitude about practicing and they’ve had a coach for a couple of years now, and we’re kind of right at the beginning of doing that. We’ve got the interest.”
Beyond growing their own team, Kriegel and Newman believe that the Tulane sailing team can be part of a much larger New Orleans sailing community, led by several other universities in the area.
“They’re trying to make this a hub for college sailing, because they have us, Loyola [University New Orleans], [University of New Orleans], Xavier [University] and Delgado [Community College],” Newman said. “So they’d like to get all of the college teams to be the backbone of a community sailing center, so we can bring in the talent and the coaches for the whole community.”
If the dream of building a new community sailing center on Lake Pontchartrain comes to fruition, the team hopes that the university would allow them to be part of Tulane’s public service model and help get local kids involved in a sport that is often cost prohibitive.
“I think it could lend very well to New Orleans, and it kind of ties in with Tulane’s whole outreach model, where the sailors on the team would help with clinics or private lessons one-on-one with kids from the community,” Kriegel said.