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BU Women Sailing into National Spotlight

Team is ready for this weekend’s NEISA Women’s Championship

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When the Boston University women’s sailing team placed third overall at the national championship regatta in San Diego last May, it confirmed what the team members already knew—they are a force to be reckoned with.

“We were a little under the radar last year from other teams,” says head coach Stan Schreyer (CAS’00). “The girls knew that they could do it. They are modest, but they knew they could do it. No one was surprised internally when we got third.”

After being ranked fourth in the New England Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association (NEISA) in Sailing World’s December 6 coaches poll, the team opened the site’s spring rankings at first in the nation, before being knocked to fifth in a March 23 poll.

While team captain Lydia Grasberger (CAS’17) downplays the importance of the largely subjective rankings, preferring instead to focus on improving the team’s performance, she says being in the spotlight has been a welcome feeling.

“It was definitely cool to be recognized in that way,” Grasberger says. “Obviously we’re really excited to get the recognition, because being ranked number one means a lot, especially for people who aren’t in the sailing world. It was cool that the sailing team is getting other people around the school to notice.”

Schreyer credits Hannah Polster (ENG’17), the team’s A-Division skipper, with being a steadying and commanding presence. “She’s really been a team leader since she was a freshman. She was one of the best sailors on the team from the beginning,” he says. “She’s filled that role throughout. She’s soft-spoken, but she does lead by example, and she’ll raise her voice when she needs to.”

Stan Schreyer, coach of the women’s sailing team, was named 2016 New England Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association Coach of the Year.

Stan Schreyer (CAS’00), coach of the women’s sailing team, was named 2016 New England Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association Coach of the Year.

As the team prepares for the spring season home stretch, it will lean heavily on Polster, who was an Honorable Mention All-American last year, Grasberger, the skipper of the B boat, and Meri Harrington (SAR’18), Grasberger’s crew in the B boat. The three have become a formidable presence during their time together.

“They all have a really good work ethic. They care about their sailing, they care about their teammates, and they work really well together,” Schreyer says. “That group has been really traveling together for three years. They’re just an organized, hardworking group of kids.”

While they serve different purposes, both skipper and crew play a critical role in sailing their boat to victory. “The way the dynamic works is the skipper is more in control of how fast the boat is going and everything in the boat,” Polster says. “A lot of the time, the crew has their head out of the boat, and is more focused on the rest of the race course.”

To race in the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association of North America 2017 College Sailing Spring National Championships, set for Charleston, S.C., from May 22 to June 2, the BU team will first have to qualify at the NEISA Women’s Championship, slated for April 22 and 23 at Brown University.

A year after Polster’s All-American nod, the women’s team will have a chance to capture another award this season. Harrington has been named to the watch list for New England Women’s Crew of the Year. (Ravi Parent (ENG’18), helmsman for the coed team, is on the watch list for New England Coed Sailor of the Year.)

“That was really cool to hear. That was probably one of the most genuine smiles I’ve had, when I read the email from Stan,” Harrington says. “I immediately called my mom.”

With the two most important regattas of the spring season fast approaching, Schreyer says his team refuses to sit on the rankings laurels.

“It’s good to get the external recognition. The rankings are subjective, though,” he says. “Whether we’re really high or not, I try to take it with a grain of salt. It’s nice for everybody else to give you the pat on the back, but they don’t give the trophies out for where you’re ranked. They give the trophies out to the people who win the regattas.”

The BU Women’s sailing team will compete at the New England Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association’s Women’s Championship on Saturday, April 22, and Sunday, April 23, at the Edgewood Yacht Club, 3 Shaw Ave., Cranston, R.I. The first race each day begins at 10:30 a.m., weather permitting.

Taylor Raglin can be reached at raglin@bu.edu.

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