The UChicago Sailing team blew through the finish line at the EDHEC Sailing Cup’s 50th anniversary regatta last week in the Moulin Blanc Harbor of Brest, France. One of the largest student-run sailing competitions in the world, the regatta hosted 180 teams and 1400 participants.
The UChicago team sailed more than 30 hours over the course of six days. The second day proved to be one of the most challenging: they sailed 30 miles from Brest into the open ocean towards Camaret, France and back.
David Millstein, fourth-year and the team’s co-captain, said of their success last week: "When you are spending such a large amount of time on a boat with your teammates each day, it's critical you get along and work together. Everything else related to our sailing and strategy was secondary.”
Beyond the physical exertion and acute concentration required for long-distance sailing, the team faced an additional challenge: sailing on boats that were quite larger than what they normally practice on—an aspect of competition that taught them to adapt to a new sailing environment and strengthened their bond as a team.
Teams from outside France had a dedicated space in the International Tent where they could meet and mingle with other sailors from around the world. Nightly meals consisted of dishes from the teams’ home countries.
"This regatta is an amazing experience to connect with students enthusiastic about sailing from all over Europe and the world as far as Tokyo,” said Emily Bichsel, fourth-year and co-commodore of the team.
When they aren’t sailing through the seas of Europe, the team is practicing Monday through Friday at Jackson Park Yacht Club, approximately 15 minutes away from campus. A UChicago club sport, the team’s 16 sailors come from a variety of backgrounds, majors, and experience levels.
This past spring, the team placed second at Indiana University's regatta, and last fall they won the regatta at the University of Michigan. Most of all, the sailing team values that they are open to all.
While they did not reach the finals, the entire team agrees that the experience was worthwhile.
“Our goal going into the competition was to do our best and have a fun time,” said Millstein “Similar to our mentality when we compete at regattas across the Midwest, the sailing team fosters a culture of doing the best we can, but paramount to everything is just ensuring everyone has a good time, and often a strong performance for the team follows too.”