Georgetown’s double-handed sailing crew will take to the water in its first inter-conference event this weekend, travelling to Kings Point, N.Y., to participate in the Nevins Trophy event. Last year’s national championship runners-up, the Hoyas will send two double-handed crews to compete, while Georgetown will also be represented in a single-handed event by national champion sophomore Greg Martinez.
The event will provide a prime opportunity for gauging the team against perennial national rivals. The Blue and Gray’s A-Division boat, consisting of junior skipper Nevin Snow, senior Katia Dasilva and senior Nancy Hagood, will face off against some of the nation’s top competition, including Boston College and the College of Charleston and Yale, whose coed team beat out Georgetown for the national championship last fall.
Despite last year’s defeat, the Hoyas feel confident heading into the competition.
“We’re hoping to do very well this weekend because we have our top teams going,” Hagood said. “This should be a good season opener, a competitive event to see where we stack up this year.”
The double-handed season stretches through the fall and spring, and meaningful events do not take place until several months into the campaign, with the championships not until May and June.
“You only want to peak at the end of the year. Certainly you want to win every weekend,” Head Coach Mike Callahan said. “But if you go out and win an event like the Nevins Trophy this weekend, my goal is to make sure we don’t take it too seriously and rest on our laurels.”
Both Hagood and Callahan emphasized the importance of this weekend’s races as primarily a measure of where the team stands against others at this point in the year. The final results are less important than the contributions the races make to the team’s overall preparation for events later in the year.
“Really all you want to see is improvement and you want to see people recognize where we’ll be compared to other teams,” Callahan said. “[We’ll] use that as a gauge for what to work on the rest of the semester.”
The Hoyas are at a stage in practice where they are still focused on developing their fundamentals. This is the first stage in the Hoyas’ buildup toward what their coach hopes will be a peak in the postseason.
“We’re doing a lot of drills, working on the basics, building up the basics,” Callahan said. “It’s a progression of skill that we work on in the beginning of the year.”
Boosting Georgetown’s preparation this season are a large number of recruited freshmen on the team and an encouraging crop of walk-ons. Successful offseason recruiting has allowed the Hoyas to begin their training at a more advanced level than in other seasons, when a higher ratio of walk-ons necessitated more basic runthroughs.
“We can get going a lot faster. There is a lot less instruction and a lot more high-level stuff that we’re doing,” Callahan said. “So we’ve kind of hit the ground going a little bit quicker than we have in the past.”
With that advantage, the team can focus on unity and results, according to Hagood. The large roster, composed of about 50 student-athletes, sends only a small contingent to races, and only seven racers will represent Georgetown this weekend. However, the rest of the roster plays an important supporting role, especially in the season’s infancy.
“Right now [training] is about coming together as a team,” Hagood said. “Our team philosophy is ‘As One,’ which means that we believe every single member of the team is important and contributes to our success.”
The overarching goal is to control the training of the team so that it peaks at the right time during championships in November and again in the early summer. Leading the way is a group of highly successful sailors, with multiple championships under their belts, including a university world championship over the summer.
Hagood returns to the roster after missing a year due to concussion, allowing an already-experienced squad to gain more leadership heading into the new season. The result is a team that knows it can win and improve and is eager to put that on display.
“Sometimes it may be the worst thing to win your first regattas because you think you can coast from there,” Callahan said. “We don’t expect to go out and win right away, but I think with the talent that we have this year it’s certainly possible.”
Hagood and the rest of the 2014 team are looking forward to getting out on the water for their first real competition of the fall.
“We’ve had a couple of solid weeks of practice,” Hagood said. “I’m excited to see how we stand against the competition.”