UD Sailing Club members view America's Cup World Series action
11:45 a.m., July 23, 2012--Three student sailors from the University of Delaware Sailing Club recently traveled to Newport, R.I., to watch the one of sailing’s premier events, the America’s Cup World Series.
The Narragansett Bay event, held June 26-July 1, was the last port of call on the 2011-12 America’s Cup World Series circuit that also included regattas in Portugal, England, Italy and San Diego. Oracle Team USA captured the inaugural 2011-12 series championship.
Taking in the racing action from UD were Bryan Whittington, Alison Sobeck and Mollie Sullivan.
Whittington, a senior geology major from Newark, Del., and sailing club commodore, said that while sailing is generally not considered to be a spectator sport, America’s Cup World Series races are an exception because they are held in great spots where thousands of people can view the entire race from land.
Fort Adams, situated at the mouth of Newport Harbor, served as the official racing village for the week of racing which drew an estimated 60,000 spectators.
“It was exciting to see the 45-foot catamarans and the rate at which they could accelerate and maneuver,” Whittington said. “To be in the presence of some of the most talented sailors in the world also was exciting.”
Sobeck, a senior health studies major with minors in exercise science and disabilities studies, said one of the highlights was watching the final race on the last day of the event.
“Bryan and I watched the event together, and we were able to get a spot right on the midpoint, so we had a great view of the course,” Sobeck said. “Afterwards, we were able to walk around and see many of the skippers and their crews. We even had the opportunity to meet Oracle Team USA skipper Russell Coutts.”
One of the University's oldest club sports teams, the UD Sailing Club keeps its fleet of seven Flying Juniors (sailing dinghies), a 420 (two-person dinghy) and a Hobie Cat at the Two Rivers Yacht Club on the Bohemia River in Chesapeake City, Md.
Whittington said that the club has about 40-50 members, with a core group of about 20 who practice, race and have a strong presence on the team.
A sailing veteran since age 10, Whittington said he likes to share his passion and knowledge of the sport with novices.
“Sailing is a unique and challenging sport that requires a lot of knowledge and adaptability at all times,” Whittington said. “I enjoy being able to teach others and help newcomers work through problems.”
A typical practice begins just after 3 p.m., and has the team back on the UD campus by 7 p.m., allowing those who live on campus to enjoy a late meal at a UD dining hall, Sobeck, who is the club treasurer, said.
“We rig boats and get on the water around 4:20 p.m. The officer running practice will sometimes set marks and will run some drills,” Sobeck said. "When we are coming up to a regatta, we try to pair the sailors that will sail together that weekend so they can practice together and work out their teamwork.”
The student-run team competes in the Mid-Atlantic Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association conference of the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association.
“I love the family that the team has become to me. My best friends are on the team, and I wouldn’t have grown into the person I am today without their support over the past three years,” Sobeck said. “I also love the fact that after a long day of classes and work, I can go out and do something I love.”
While team competition is limited to undergraduates, graduate students are welcome as club members and learn many of the same sailing fundamentals.
Alexander Razzook, a graduate student in biomechanics and movement science, found out about the sailing club online.
“I had always wanted to sail, but never had the opportunity,” Razzook said. “I showed up for practice, not knowing how to sail, and within one hour they had me sailing upwind. I’ve been an addict ever since.”
For more information on the UD Sailing Team, including recruitment opportunities, visit the website.
Article by Jerry Rhodes