Over February reading week, Dalhousie University’s sailing club travelled to St. Petersburg, Florida, to compete in the Canadian Intercollegiate Sailing Association (CICSA) Midwinters.
The final regatta of the season before the club’s annual general meeting, the competition was “one last hurrah” for the team, said club president Dylan Scott.
One of Dal’s two boats placed second in the regatta, after a week of racing. They lost by only two points, a very close margin, to Wilfred Laurier University.
The scoring is added up throughout the week. Eight teams sailed in 10 races, getting the same score as the place they came in the race. The first-place team in each race would get one point; the last place team eight points. A disqualification counts for nine points.
Dal had two disqualifications throughout the week, meaning if those races had gone differently, they probably would have won the regatta.
“It was really close and it was a little heartbreaking for us but we still sailed and competed pretty well,” said Scott, noting that Laurier also sailed very well in the event.
The Dalhousie team has travelled to Florida for the past four years, since the Midwinters race started. In previous seasons, they sent five people to race one boat. This year was the first that 10 members of the team had the opportunity to go, racing two keelboats.
In the first year, Dal won. The next year, they sailed to a third place finish, and came second last year and this year.
“We’re pretty happy with how we’ve been finishing up on the podium every time,” said Scott.
They compete against teams from other Canadian universities, including Queens University, the Royal Military College of Canada, Wilfred Laurier University and the University of New Brunswick.
“It’s one of the highlights of my sailing season just because of the competition, it’s so tight,” said Scott. “There’s always lots of learning that happens at this event, I take away a bunch from it every year and I feel like I get better.”
The first couple days that the team was in Florida were just training. CICSA provides a coach each year, who coaches all of the different teams. They’re usually well-known professional sailors or coaches for Olympic teams.
Another year, the coach was former Olympian Andreas Josenhans. This year, it was sailor Drew Mitchell.
Having a chance to learn from different sailors is one of the big reasons Dalhousie goes to Florida every year to spend the better part of a week out on the water.
“That’s a level of coaching that I wish we could provide to the team on a regular basis, but we can’t quite, so it’s definitely a good opportunity for the team,” said Scott. “The other nice thing too is just having a whole week to sail every day in the same boat with the same crew because it’s really good practice for us. A lot of us don’t have that time set aside throughout most of the school year.”