Syracuse sailing grows and finds success it hasn’t had in over 50 years

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ UPDATED: Oct. 13, 2017 at 6:59 p.m.The Starbucks on Marshall Street serves a valuable purpose for the Syracuse sailing team, and it isn’t to provide pumpkin-spiced lattes. It’s the meeting point for the team’s carpool.At SU, there isn’t a lake, let alone an ocean within walking distance. So, the team has to pile into cars and drive a half hour to Cazenovia Lake, where the team recently hosted the Cazenovia Fall Open this past weekend. It sailed two teams that finished second and third, and the team team has continued to grow since being founded 80 years ago.“Obviously there are some certain disadvantages to (not being near big bodies of water),” sophomore Brooke Schneider said, “because some of our regattas are more on ocean waters and we don’t get those kinds of winds here.”In 2016, the team qualified for its conference’s spring championship, the America Trophy, for the first time in more than 50 years. Though the Orange didn’t place highly, qualifying for the championship was a large step forward for the program.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe first task before the team sails is retrieving the boats. The team has to secure four club 420s and eight FJs out of the attic of Willow Bank Yacht Club and put it into the lake. Once everything is rigged and ready to go, the team meets inside where Cole Colby discusses what the team will be practicing.Colby, the commodore of team management, is in charge of organizing events, regattas, practices and how the team functions as a whole. The club team, after years of being inactive, was recently re-established by five Syracuse and SUNY ESF students in 2010. It still remains without a head coach.To combat the hole of not having a coach, the team elects five athletes to be the commodores of team management, finance, equipment, communications and university relations.During practice, courses are set up with buoys, serving as place markers while sailing. Colby and other experienced members take turns operating the “coach boat” going around and helping the rest of the team.But the physical practice is only part of the preparation. Each Thursday night, Colby holds meetings with “chalk talks,” where he’ll go over strategies and try to key in on one area everyone can improve in.Practice normally ends with a simulated regatta, or race. At these races, teams will the entire four-legged course about 10 times with an A fleet, consisting of the best two sailors, and a B fleet, the next best two. Together, the teams combine for a total score.The scoring is not simply the finishing time, as a PHRF rating adjusts for variables such as how heavy each boat is. Each two-person boat has a skipper and a crewmember that must work well together.“The communication between the skipper and the crew is absolutely crucial to how the entire race goes,” Schneider said. “If the two aren’t in tune with one another and don’t know what’s going on, then somebody might not be ready for what’s called a tack, when you change your sails or you might not see a gust coming and could capsize.“There’s a thousand things that could go wrong if you’re not keeping those open communication lines.”But some things can’t be accounted for. Last year, in the Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta, a race for larger boats, Colby made a risky maneuver to push Syracuse into first place. It held first until the last leg where SU had the spinnaker, a bigger sail when going downwind. Then, the line holding the spinnaker snapped.The team hauled the spinnaker down and quickly rewound it with a new line. Though the team was able to push forward and fix the potential for a large problem, Syracuse fell out of first and into second place.“(It) was really, really irritating,” Colby said, “because we held it out the whole race. We were killing it.”The team practices for about four hours on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in the fall and spring. But, the long-lasting winters keep seasons short. While dry suits keep the team relatively warm, the lake is frozen solid, preventing them from practicing at all. Sometimes, the team has to compete in spring regattas before their first practice, Colby said.After practice ends, the team has to take apart the boats and haul them up a hill with a trailer to store them for the next practice. The traveling and additional time setting and cleaning up may seem like a hassle. But the sailors don’t mind it for the sport they love.“It’s like a really exciting for me to do, I can go out on the water and pretty much do anything I want,” junior Zach Warner, commodore of team equipment, said. “There are no speed limits, there are no times where you can and can’t go out, so I really enjoy the freedom.”Once the boats are put away, the team piles back into the cars and heads back to campus. The next day, they’ll get up and do it all over again. Perhaps, they may need a few pumpkin-spiced lattes to serve a valuable purpose after all.CORRECTION: In a previous version of this post, Cazenovia Lake was misnamed. The Daily Orange regrets this error.CORRECTION: In a previous version of this post, the name of the Leroy Grant Trophy was misstated. The Daily Orange regrets this error.CORRECTION: In a previous version of this post, the number of commodores for the sailing team was misstated. The Daily Orange regrets this error. Comments Published on October 9, 2017 at 11:46 pm Contact Eric: [email protected]last_img read more