BY Olivia Mittleman
Their boats may be from 1960, but that doesn’t stop the Sacred Heart University club sailing team from competing year-round.
Alumni of Sacred Heart, who enjoyed sailing, wanted to bring the sport to the University’s community. Based off of this passion, they formed the team roughly seven years ago.
Members of the sailing team range from freshmen to seniors, of whom have wide-ranges of experience. Having no experience, is not a setback into being able to join the team.
“I did not sail before attending Sacred Heart. There’s no experience necessary,” said sophomore Nikolas Hermanowycz. “I saw the flyer hanging in the UC and thought, ‘hey that’s pretty interesting, and it looks like a lot of fun.’ I attended a meeting, and had a blast. I went on from there.”
Hermanowycz enjoys sailing so much that he is now president of the club. “I was really the only one able to be president. There was no one else. So I stepped up, and took the job.”
Unlike Hermanowycz, senior Renee Flores, did sail prior to coming to Sacred Heart.
“I grew up sailing, but didn’t sail competitively, until I got to high school,” said Flores. “When I came to Sacred Heart, I got an email from club athletics about sailing. So I attended a meeting and got a really good vibe from the team and their captains. I ended up joining and I really appreciate the sport.”
The sailing team is comprised of two-person boats, which compete in regattas. Regattas test the sailors’ speed, agility, and general sailing knowledge.
“It’s set up like a course,” said Flores. “All the teams start at the starting line and use whatever sailing tactics they can in order to get to the finish line.”
Although the team at Sacred Heart is a club team, they frequently compete against Division I schools.
“We sail against varsity teams, and Division I teams. Teams such as, Harvard, Yale and Navy, obviously have much more time, and funding, than we do, but we always go in with a positive attitude,” said Flores. “If we do pretty well on a given day, and beat a couple of boats, then we’re happy.”
The team practices daily from 3:30pm. until 6:30pm. at Captain’s Cove, in Bridgeport, Conn.
At practice, the team works on various aspects of sailing to compete against Division I schools.
“We do a lot of drills to polish our skills. This improves movements and abilities that are needed throughout each race,” said junior Rebecca Rutkiewicz. “Our coaches set up race courses for us and we run many practice races as well. We do this so that we can work on starts, heading up wind, tacking, gybing, down winds, and mark roundings.”
Unlike most other Sacred Heart club sports, the sailing team shares practice time and coaching staff members with Fairfield University.
“It works just as smoothly as you hope it would,” said Hermanowycz. “Though we compete with them [Fairfield University], we have more of a connection than one would assume.”
The team lost a handful of sailors from last year’s graduating class.
“The main goal for this year is to rebuild the team and develop better sailing skills,” said Rutkiewicz. “The team has many great new sailors and the goal [for new sailors]is to have them work on skills, and be introduced to the aspects of racing.
Although the team was originally formed to race competitively, they also make sure that they are enjoying their time on the water.
“Our team motto is, ‘If you’ve had fun, you’ve won’,” said Flores.