National Champion sailing team looks forward to coming season

Juliet Adams, Staff Reporter

The Tulane sailing team is a team to look out for this school year. This is arguably one of their best seasons since becoming a varsity sport in 2018 at Tulane, and the reigning National Champions are looking to secure their second consecutive trophy after an unforgettable season last year. 

The program is led by a number of captains including seniors Ciara Rodriguez-Horan and Quinn Keenan, juniors Mia Hanes and Gillian Perrell and sophomore Zander King. The sailing program as a whole has both a women’s and co-ed team. Sailing is a two-season sport, fall and spring, which therefore gives the team a winter off-season. Starting at the end of September, the teams will compete almost every weekend both on Saturdays and Sundays through early June. 

Their regattas consist of 18 schools competing against each other. While the teams mainly travel to the Northeast to compete against some of their biggest rivals, such as at Yale University and other schools in the Ivy League, the team’s home regattas are held on Lake Pontchartrain at the Community Sailing Center. 

“Because we are in the South, we have the luxury of practicing and competing early February, which gives us more time to prepare than our other competitors located in the Northeast,” junior crew member Andrea Riefkohl-Gonzalez said. Rivals like the Yale Bulldogs and other Ivy League schools have to deal with the Northeast winters that affect their off-seasons. However, thanks to the warmer New Orleans’ winters, Tulane sailing is able to get a head start in preparing for the spring season.

Last May, Tulane sailing took down their biggest competitors, the Yale Bulldogs, to win the National Sailing Championship at home on Lake Pontchartrain. Riefkohl-Gonzalez reflected on their win saying, “The National Championship regatta was our best regatta of the season, but we braced tough speed bumps to get the win. Although it was on our home waters, unexpected wind patterns shifted our game-plans, which took away our ‘home-court’ advantage.” 

She said, “we braced the challenges and were able to defeat all of the teams including one of our biggest competitors, Yale, to take home the trophy. It was an overwhelming experience, and our goal for this season is to do it again.”

Senior captain Ciara Rodriguez-Horan reflected on the team’s growth, “My freshman year was the team’s first year being varsity. I have seen the team grow exponentially, and last year was the first time I considered the team a family. We pushed each other really hard and put in more work as a team than I’ve ever seen before. In my opinion, that’s why we won [the National Championship].”

“I’m excited for what this next year will bring and hope we can push just as hard. Our goal for this season is to continue building a strong program and to keep creating a culture that will be successful for years to come,” Rodriguez-Horan, talking about this season, said. 

Tulanians can support by attending the home regattas located at Lake Pontchartrain. The program’s first scrimmage is Sept. 17-18 and following is the Sugar Bowl regatta Sept. 24-25. 

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