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Club sailing team rocks the boat

By Brendon Prescott
On September 21, 2011


For juniors Ellen Leonard and Thomas Presti, sailing has always been a passion. Since childhood, both Leonard and Presti have devoted much of their time and effort to the sport. 

In 2011, Leonard became the official president of the UConn Sailing Team, while Presti became the vice president. Both share the same mentality about sailing: have fun.

Sailing is coached by Pete Giuliano, a UConn graduate student. Giuliano is in charge of hosting Thursday "chalk talks," which are chats run before every practice throughout the season. Chalk talk is a good time for the team to ask questions about certain problems, and for Giuliano to share his insight on sailing knowledge.  

This semester, over 120 students signed up for the sailing club during the Involvement Fair, and 50 people attended the first meeting on Sept 12.

"We really like to have fun at sailing club," Leonard said. "We are very laid back about practices and regattas. If kids can't make practices they aren't obligated to attend, and although the sport can be competitive, we like to be very team oriented."

UConn students can find the sailing team in a dining hall after a Friday practice.

"We like to be all about the team and not look down on others. Although we like to be competitive and race against actual college teams, the most important and rewarding part about sailing club is getting everyone out there, the new sailors and the veterans," Presti said.

UConn students sail larks, which are small boats, roughly around 12-15 feet in length. They practice every Friday afternoon at UConn's regional campus at Avery Point in Groton, Conn. Regattas usually last for two days and take place over the weekends. 

The sailing team carpools to different colleges, ranging from Bowdoin in Maine to Boston University. 

Coordination of transportation, funding, team meetings, team deadlines, gear and equipment are done by the team's secretary, Catherine Spavola, and treasurer, Whitney Washburn. 

Both Spavola and Washburn joined the team last year as freshmen with no prior knowledge of sailing. Presti says it is the atmosphere and relaxed feel that allows new sailors to return.

Sailing runs until Thanksgiving and starts up again during spring break, when a chosen group of sailors goes to Miami to train for the spring season. For more information about joining the UConn Sailing Team, attend meetings on Mondays at 5 p.m. in Arjona.

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