Sailing team picking up wind this year

Andres Fuentes

Out of all the typical clubs that universities have to offer, there is one that makes Loyola stand out — its sailing team.

Starting in 2012, the team has brought together seabound students as they compete against other universities in races called regattas.

Loyola competes in the Intercollegiate Sailing Association and is a part of the Southeastern Intercollegiate Sailing Association, which encompasses teams from Louisiana to Colorado.

“What most people don’t know about the sport is how intense it is,” Sofia Giordano, an environmental science sophomore and the sailing team captain, said. “Unlike other sports, we compete throughout the entire school year. And many people associate sailing with lounging in a boat, but most days, we’ve experienced rough conditions of high winds, rain [and] choppy waves. Basically, the only thing that keeps us out of the water is lightning.”

Last season they competed in six regattas against southern schools like Tulane, Texas A&M and the University of Texas, and this season they plan to go against the same competition.

“These regattas are highly competitive because we sail against some of the biggest schools in the south,” Giordano said.

The sailing team also has a new identity this season, with a new coach and new sailors added to the team.

Patrick Burtchaell, senior design major and regatta manager, said, “With our new coach, new sailors and the experience from last year, I’m looking forward to this year.”

With a young team at the helms, Burtchaell is optimistic about what the team can do collectively.

“Even though almost everyone on the team is new, as of last year, the chemistry of everyone on the team is great,” Burtchaell said.

With the next regatta coming as soon as Sept. 9, the team is looking ahead to rough competition.

“The start of the race is on the water in the wind and the waves, so the boat does not like to stay still. Getting your boat to line up in an advantageous position relative to your opponents can be a challenge. On windy days, it may be a challenge just to keep your boat upright,” Gunn said.

Despite the difficulties and skill needed to sail, the team is still open for newcomers, especially those without any experience in the sport.

“Most college sailors in our conference never sailed before joining their college sailing teams. Give it a try. You may end up with a sport you can enjoy for the rest of your life. If you decide to join, expect to put in the hours,” Gunn said.

The sailing team will kick off their season on Sept. 10 in the Baldwin Wood Regatta at Tulane.

The team begins open practices Sunday, Sept. 3 at Lake Pontchartrain for new members looking to try the club sport. The team practices every Friday and Sunday during weeks that the team doesn’t have a regatta, but open practices will only be held during this season before the final roster is set.