Sailing turns few heads despite cruising to No. 1 ranking

Contributing Writer
Monday, April 18, 2011

Though Brown’s sailing team goes unnoticed by much of the student body, the squad is on everyone’s radar in collegiate sailing circles. The women’s team is currently ranked No. 1 in the country, and the co-ed squad is ranked seventh.

Head Coach John Mollicone said the team has set a standard for success in recent years.

“For the last 10 years, we’ve been ranked in the top 10 pretty consistently in women’s and co-ed.”

The 40-person, club-level team is listed in the same national rankings as varsity-level squads. The team’s club status has not lessened its budget, Mollicone said.

“A lot of the club teams are more student-run, don’t have a lot of funding and support from the schools, but we get full support from varsity athletics,” Mollicone said. “We always achieve our fundraising goals. We have a great budget. We look at ourselves as a varsity team. We’re just not counted as a varsity sport.”

Mollicone said he was unsure why sailing is not a varsity team.

“I don’t know. It’s just always been that way,” Mollicone said. “We’ve talked about it before … We just have never gotten far enough where it’s been worth it to be varsity and have a lot of the red tape that we’d have if we were a varsity team.”

The “red tape” that would come with varsity status would prevent the team from continuing to allow Rhode Island School of Design and graduate students to participate.

Emily Dellenbaugh ’12, captain of the women’s team, added that its club label gives the team some opportunities not granted to varsity teams.

“On any given day, somebody who’s not really … on the team could come down and they could just go sailing,” Dellenbaugh said. “A lot of people don’t know that, but we accommodate anyone of any skill or experience. And I think that’s really cool because we do have a lot of people who come down.”

Each weekend during the season, which is divided into fall and spring sections, the sailing team sends different members to different regattas. Some regattas are co-ed and some are only for women. On an average weekend, the team participates in four regattas, but it can attend as many as six or seven. Each regatta is an all-weekend affair and usually involves extensive traveling — the team only hosted one regatta this semester.

“You really have to manage your time well because, depending on where the regattas are, you’ll sometimes be leaving on a Friday at one or two in the afternoon and won’t be back till Sunday night,” Dellenbaugh said.

Despite the team’s high ranking, several sailors said they felt the team is not getting very much recognition.

“We’ve worked really hard at it. … It is kind of sad that there’s not that much interest,” Dellenbaugh said. “We are a club team, but we are No. 1 in the national ranking, so I feel that more people should definitely be aware about that.”

Team captain Tommy Fink ’13 agreed that it would be nice if the sailing team got some recognition from the campus for its strong performances, but he also said people on the team do not sail for recognition.

“We’ve all grown up sailing,” Fink said. “You’re not sailing for the glory. You’re not in it for, like, girls. You’re not in for fame or whatever it is. You’re in it because that’s what you enjoy doing.”

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