After having much success in the past month, the USF sailing team will divide its forces this weekend and compete in two separate events.
Part of the team will remain in St. Petersburg, competing in a regatta hosted by Eckerd College. The rest of the team will travel to Charleston, S.C., to compete against several teams, including the College of Charleston, which has one of the most respected sailing programs in the country.
Bulls coach Stephanie Doyle said she is excited for her team to have a chance to go up against some of the nation’s best competition this weekend.
“The team is pretty big so it’s nice to have multiple regattas on a weekend, so lots of people get to compete,” Doyle said.
Doyle said of the two regattas, the team will send its more experienced members to Charleston. She said the competition will be tough, with several talented Northern schools coming south for an early-year event.
“Our top skippers are going to go to the College of Charleston because that regatta is a higher level,” she said.
The Eckerd College event is a South points event. In college sailing, the competition is divided into regions. Various regional meets are held and the top five finishers move on to national competition.
The USF team won a points event hosted by the University of Florida two weeks ago. Because of that, Doyle said she feels comfortable that even with more experienced team members competing in Charleston this weekend, the team will maintain a firm hold in the points.
“I think we can finish in the top three,” Doyle said. “We’re pretty much set on qualifying so we want to give some of the young (team members) a chance.”
Some of the inexperienced team members include Nick Myers and Nick Chachula, who Doyle said started sailing just months ago. Doyle said Myers and Chachula are representative of a team that is continuously looking for walk-ons of all experience ranges that can be coached into talented sailors.
Doyle said she has seen marked improvement in her inexperienced competitors and is excited for them to compete.
“They’ve been practicing really hard and have improved a lot this year,” she said. “(Some members) didn’t sail before college, but now are competing and beating people that have sailed all their life.”
Doyle said it is important in their learning process for the inexperienced team members to compete in a high level event.”Their learning curve is so huge any time you can get them the opportunity to sail against some top boats, they’re going to learn a lot,” she said. “It bodes well for the future of the team to have such a deep team.”
As for the experienced team members in Charleston, Doyle said she’ll be happy if they finish in the top 10. She said she is excited that most of the team will compete this weekend, giving her a good look at its talent in action.
“It’s the first time we’ve ever been so deep to go to two or three regattas in a weekend,” she said. “It’s great.”