Recent William Smith graduate Meghan Jordan’10, sophomores Caroline Patten, Austen Anderson and Sam Blouin, are currently competing in the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association national championships in Madison, Wis. According to an article in the Finger Lakes Times, “HWS and St. Mary’s of Maryland are the smallest colleges in the country with sailing programs. Both have proven size isn’t everything when it comes to collegiate sailing.”
The article quotes Scott Iklé, HWS sailing coach, “We’re going to be starting a young team at Coed Nationals, three sophomores and one senior. As a team we’ve grown because we have some really talented seniors, but we’ve had some sophomores come into their own. They’ve been a lot of fun to coach because there’s been this real incredible growth.”
The article also notes, “Eighth-ranked HWS will sail against the likes of Georgetown, Yale, Princeton and other universities with larger populations and bigger name recognition.”
Jordan ’10, the women’s captain, is quoted, “Even though Georgetown and other schools are bigger, they still only have 30 people on their roster. We have a really incredible coaching staff here, and we can compete against the top programs in the country.”
The full article about the HWS sailing team follows.
HWS’ TITANIC CHORE
Battling the heavyweights of college sailing hasn’t stopped locals from being one of the best
Gregory G. McNall • May 24, 2010
GENEVA – Meghan Jordan graduated from William Smith College last weekend. Caroline Patten, Austen Anderson and Sam Blouin are done with their class obligations for the year.
There is work to be done, though.
Those four will lead the HWS sailing contingent competing in the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association national championships in Madison, Wis. The Women’s Nationals begin Tuesday and continue through Friday, while the Coed Dinghy Nationals are June 1-3.
“We’re going to be starting a young team at Coed Nationals, three sophomores and one senior,” HWS coach Scott Iklé said. “As a team we’ve grown because we have some really talented seniors, but we’ve had some sophomores come into their own. They’ve been a lot of fun to coach because there’s been this real incredible growth.”
Eighth-ranked HWS will sail against the likes of Georgetown, Yale, Princeton and other universities with larger populations and bigger name recognition. It’s never bothered HWS, a program that won both its national championships in 2005.
“In sailing, you develop a small community. You’re going to be seeing the same faces,” Anderson said. “I pretty much know all the starters on Georgetown and Yale and all the other top brand-name schools. I’ve been sailing with them and against them since I was like 12 years old. It’s just that we’re in college now.”
Hobart and William Smith is a small fish in a big pond. That’s the impression, anyway.
HWS and St. Mary’s of Maryland are the smallest colleges in the country with sailing programs. Both have proven size isn’t everything when it comes to collegiate sailing.
Unlike other sports, there’s no Division I, II and III breakdown. Sailing is a non-scholarship sport. There are approximately 200 collegiate programs nationwide, and each is limited to 20 hours of training a week, a limitation that levels the playing waters.
“Even though Georgetown and other schools are bigger, they still only have 30 people on their roster,” explained Jordan, the women’s captain. “We have a really incredible coaching staff here, and we can compete against the top programs in the country.”
HWS sailing built its reputation on hard work and potential. When Iklé took over in 1993, he instilled his philosophy of physical training and practices that included drills, not just races.
“We set the tone early that we were going to be hard-working, that it was going to attract a certain kind of person to our team,” Iklé said. “We were fortunate enough that our first couple of recruiting classes, we found those men and women. They’ve laid the foundation for every team since then. I feel we were very lucky with that.”
Iklé, a 1984 Hobart graduate, was an assistant coach for the sailing team at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy before coming back to Geneva.
When he returned, sailing on the national and international stage was beginning to focus on things like physical and mental training, though Iklé said it hadn’t trickled down to the collegiate level.
“Everyone was passionate about the sport, but it came down to a difference in commitment and what they were willing to do,” Iklé said. “Part of college athletics is figuring out how to balance everything.”
“Besides him being a coach – a lot of people know how to sail – he’s got that mental edge he can give everybody,” Anderson said of Iklé. “He’s like a coach and a sports psychologist a little bit. He plays a bunch of different roles. He always tells us we should strive for excellence and he makes us work hard.”
Including this season, HWS has competed in 34 ICSA North American championship regattas during Iklé’s tenure. Forty-one HWS sailors have been selected as All-Americans, highlighted by Trevor Moore being named ICSA Sailor of the Year in 2007.
On the international level, Iklé has served on Team USA’s support staff for the Pan American Games and coached Team USA at the International Sailing Federation World Sailing Games in 2002.
The National Coach of the Year in 2003, Iklé also was honored as Developmental Coach of the Year in 1998 and received U.S. Sailing’s “Doc” Counsilman Science Award in 2006.
Iklé strives to develop sailors who can compete and work independently. Since coaches aren’t allowed to communicate with their athletes during competition, preparation is crucial.
“We learn a lot about dedication and commitment to something you love,” Jordan said. “We work hard to perfect our skills. On an individual level you learn a lot about responsibility and working together with a group of people on a team.”
One of Iklé’s main challenges is matching up captains and crews in a coed sport.
“Personalities are a big part of this, and finding the right skipper-crew relationships are important,” Iklé said. “At the end of the day, what it really comes down to is sharing a common goal and sharing a mutual respect to go out there and work together as hard as you can.
“You don’t have to be best friends, but you have to share that goal and have that respect for each other’s efforts.”
“Obviously, if you don’t click together you might struggle a bit more to compete well together,” Blouin added. “When you’re spending two days, six or eight hours out there sailing you have to be able to get along, push each other and keep each other honest.”
Everything meshed in 2005.
In Team Nationals, HWS lost its first two races, then reeled off 11 straight victories to claim the national title.
After hugging, jumping into the water, taking pictures and all the other things that go with celebrating such achievements, Iklé and his sailors drove back to their hotel with the realization that the Coed Dinghy Nationals started a couple of days later.
“One of the guys in the van said, ‘We never talked about winning one of these things. We always talked about the next race. Well, it is the next race,’ ” Iklé recalled. “Right then and there I knew we were going to have a good next championship because they got it.”
Three days later HWS won the Coed Dinghy national championship.
Iklé believed that type of success wasn’t a case of if, but when.
“We missed winning in 1998, ’99, 2000. We missed winning in a tiebreaker again in 2004,” Iklé said. “We had so many second-place finishes that I think that year (2005) we talked about, ‘Why couldn’t it be us?’ In terms of something special or something different, I think we had the positive energy we’ve had any other year. It’s just that everything fell together.”
Iklé has taking a wait-and-see stance with this year’s group. He likes the progress they have made.
“I don’t think we’ve hit their potential. We’re making great strides forward, but we don’t know where their talent’s going to take us,” Iklé said. “This is a group that gets it. They know what it takes to compete against the best and get better and relax and have fun while they’re doing it.”
Travel forces good time management
GENEVA – The remarkable amount of traveling isn’t as cumbersome for a collegiate sailing team as it seems.
All sailing equipment is standardized, so when Hobart and William Smith treks to a regatta, they use the host school’s equipment, including the dinghies and rigging.
The student-athletes face the biggest challenge, courtesy of a regular-season schedule that includes trips to regattas up and down the eastern seaboard.
In addition, the ICSA semifinals were contested in Seattle, while the 10-day-long national championships are in Madison, Wis.
Time becomes a valued commodity.
“It just makes you get your stuff done ahead of time,” junior Caroline Patten said “I can’t procrastinate like I might otherwise would have.”
It took sophomore Austen Anderson a year to adjust to the rigors.
“My first year here my grades were actually not so great,” admitted Anderson, who was on more solid academic footing this year. “There’s always enough time. The busier you are the better you’re going to be able to manage your time. This year I had way better grades. I guess it’s just taking the time to adjust.”
“Our athletes excel both on the water and in the classroom. It all comes down to time management. They know that academics is going to come first and athletics second,” HWS sailing coach Scott Iklé said. “They know the demands of both and work really hard to balance it. They might have to give up a bit of a social life to do it, but it’s the commitment they’re willing to make.”
Seneca Lake provides a perfect training ground
GENEVA – Seneca Lake is like the Boston Garden of college sailing. It can be a thrilling, challenging lake to sail, yet can drive sailors to distraction.
The Hobart and William Smith sailing team has an advantage with its home body of water. While sailing venues for many other colleges and universities are off campus, the deepest of the Finger Lakes sits across the street from the Hobart and William Smith campus.
The deepest of the Finger Lakes provides HWS with a chance to train in any number of conditions.
“In college sailing, we’re considered an open-water venue. That means the conditions can be rough. When you have good waves and good wind strength it makes fun sailing. You go faster and people enjoy it more,” HWS sailing coach Scott Ikle explained. “But, because a lot of other college practice on smaller lakes or rivers or really small bays on the coast, they don’t really get the conditions we have here. We have some outstanding sailing conditions … in terms of college sailing conditions, we’re spoiled that we get to practice in that every day.
“From sailors’ perspectives, they can’t wait to get here and sail in those conditions, but they find them challenging, so it’s kind of a love-hate.”
“We kind of get every type of breeze and every kind of condition. It’s nice for practicing,” junior Caroline Patten added. “In the past week we’ve had a lot of no-wind days.”
During those days the team focuses on strength and conditioning, strategy talks and team-building activities like playing soccer.
It’s not like being in the water, though.
“Seneca lLake is a beautiful sailing venue. When the wind is out of the right direction, kind of the south, 12 to 15 knots, with a little bit of a swell, those conditions are just ideal,” Ikle said.
“We have the chance to train in all kinds of conditions. I think when people drive in on (Routes) 5 & 20 and look over the lake, it’s a gorgeous venue.”
Coed Dinghy, ’05
Team Race, ’05
Dinghy, ’96-98, ’00, ’03, ’05-06
Team Race, ’05-06
Women’s, ’99, ’02, ’08
Sailor of the Year
Trevor Moore, ’07