C/O Felix Wong
Lessons learned at the end of my first year with the Silhouette
“Make some noise for your . . . McMaster . . . Marauders!”
These are the words I’ve heard countless times this year. In my time as the sports staff writer for the Silhouette, event staff for varsity games and an executive on the McMaster Women’s Football team, I’ve become more immersed in the McMaster sports scene than I expected at the beginning of the year.
I’ve gotten to meet so many people with such interesting stories and it’s been an honour to cover them. I’ve watched the basketball teams struggle and succeed, gained an appreciation for football and volleyball and learned about less-covered sports such as curling, wrestling and Nordic skiing.
Writing for the Silhouette hasn’t been smooth sailing the whole time. Speaking of which, Mac has a sailing team that you should check out if you’re interested. I applied for the position on a whim because I was interested in sports and interested in writing. However, by the end of first semester, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue.
I reflected and ultimately decided to remain in the position. I started writing articles about what I was interested in, one of my favourites being “Body neutrality within dance,” and pulled from all I had learned about interviewing and writing. I focused my attention on the personal side of sports, wanting to hear about the highs and lows from everyone.
My favourite part of the position was meeting so many incredible people. I’ve talked to McMaster’s first two female football coaches, members of the Black Student Athlete Council, an Olympic gold medalist, a McMaster Sports Hall of Famer, McMaster Sports’ Associate Director of High Performance, some good friends and the rest of the Sil staff. I’ve taken away lessons from my conversations with every individual and I never would have had the opportunity without the Silhouette.
What I’ve taken away from this experience is that without these conversations and without giving these teams and issues the spotlights they deserve, we can never notice the small victories that each team gains. By learning more about them, we can celebrate, mourn and learn with them, helping the teams feel seen as representatives of McMaster and helping us maintain positive school spirit.
While I don’t know what I’ll be doing for the rest of my time here at Mac, I hope I can still be involved with the sports scene and the Silhouette.
The beginning of the school year means regatta season is here for the McMaster Sailing team. This past weekend, they hosted Ontario university sailing teams at the Royal Hamilton Yacht Club for two days of sailing fun.
Organized by team president Caroline Murdoch, the regatta gives the team a chance to get much-needed competitive practice before nationals. At last year's nationals the team came in third overall, but this year their eye is on the prize.
The first regatta of the year was hosted by Wilfred Laurier University. Being that it took place prior to McMaster’s annual ClubsFest, only experienced Mac sailors competed.
[spacer height="20px"]“It went really well. We came in first place,” said Murdoch. “It was more of an introductory regatta, just getting people back on the water and getting things ready.”
This weekend, while some members were sailing the west end of Lake Ontario, Joel Millar, a member of both the Ontario and Mac’s team, was representing McMaster at the McGill University regatta. Where he and his partner Abby Brown helped Mac come in fifth place overall.
As McMaster’s regatta is set three weeks into the season, their new sailors were given the opportunity to test the waters. Among the sailors was two-sport athlete Bridget Webster, and her new sailing partner Bryson Dell.
The pair led the pack in their races, helping McMaster stay on top. For Webster, who also plays hockey on the McMaster women’s team, balancing the fall and winter sports is not as hard as it may seem.
[spacer height="20px"]“Even though [hockey] tryouts are during the same time as sailing, by the time we really get into our season, sailing is wrapped up,” Webster explained.
Being able to focus on one sport at a time helped Webster and Dell get first and second place in their races on Saturday at the McMaster Regatta.
“The race was good because the wind was pretty steady at the beginning, but it kind of died down a bit, making it a little difficult just in terms of tactics,” said Dell. “But we did pretty well because we stuck to the left side and tacked up the middle of the course.”
Sailing a lighter boat, it makes it easier for the duo to maneuver in the water, but most importantly to win.
“It's a good feeling to win, so to stay on top we'll try to stay focused on our tactics which worked out for us,” said Dell. “Our boat handling was in sync and pretty smooth for the most part. We were pretty fluid with our movements and if we can keep that up, we should continue to do well.”
Dell, like the majority of McMaster’s team, started sailing when he was young, learning the ropes from his grandfather.
“My grandpa had a boat and sailed for a long time,” said Dell. “So when we were young, we would go out on his boat and I started to learn how to sail, then got into racing. I really like being out on the water because of how refreshing it is, but I also like the mixture of physicality and strategy.”
Though Dell, Murdoch and Webster have been doing this for quite some time, there are opportunities to learn through McMaster sailing. With their “Learn to Sail” program, students can learn from Mac’s sailors once a week everything they need to know for beginner sailing.
Given the nature of the sport, it is hard for spectators to come out and support the Mac team like they can with football or basketball. But their “Learn to Sail” program is a great way for McMaster students to get involved and expand their horizons, and maybe even join the team at nationals one day.
For now, the current McMaster sailing team will continue to attend Ontario regattas in preparation for the sailing nationals at Queens University on Oct. 27-28.
Their days start early, and they spend approximately six hours on the water competing but it’s all worth it.
McMaster University’s sailing team competed at the McMaster Invitational this past weekend. During the two-day event, seven Canadian university teams participated in the series of boat races better known as a regatta.
The Canadian collegiate sailing season lasts the entire fall, and teams compete in weekend invitationals governed by the Canadian Intercollegiate Sailing Association.
According to McMaster’s regatta coordinator Ross Murdoch, the McMaster sailing team dates back to the 70s but was on hiatus until about seven years ago, thanks to the emergence of the CICSA.
Mac has a contract with the Royal Hamilton Yacht Club that allows them to use their boats, practice twice a week and use the facilities for their invitational. With help from Robert Monroe, member of the yacht club and proud McMaster alum, and the club’s vice commodore, Diane Crawshaw, Mac has been able to sail this year without a hitch.
“The way it works in collegiate sailing is that we have an A fleet and a B fleet,” said McMaster’s team president Emma Jackson. “So the A fleet will go out do some races and then rotate with B fleet. “Each team is sending four people and they all to get to race within their own fleet.”
According to the CICSA’s Performance Ranking System teams are ranked by the summation of the per-region score they accumulate over a season and their score in the same season’s CICSA fleet racing nationals. The team with the lowest number of points is the winning team.
"Unlike other sports... sailing is the most mental sport. It's all about your angles, geometry of the water, and how the winds change affects how you sail."
McMaster sailing team
At the McMaster invitational, Mac placed a close second, loosing to McGill University who had a total of 27 points, while Mac had 30 points.
Earlier this month Mac also competed at the Laurier/Waterloo Invitational where they also came in second after unfortunately losing to Queen’s University.
Though Queen’s is known as one of the best collegiate sailing teams in Ontario, one of Mac’s newest sailors, Joel Millar, is ready to change that.
First learning to sail at the Royal Hamilton Yacht Club’s “Learn to Sail” camp, it was obvious to his parents and coaches that Millar was an extremely gifted sailor. While most kids took four to five years to achieve all their sailing levels, Millar obtained his in one year, and has been sailing ever since.
As a member of Ontario’s sailing team and a first-year engineering student, Millar splits his days between his education and his love for sailing.
“One thing I love about sailing is that unlike other sports where it’s mostly physical, sailing is the most mental sport. It’s all about your angles, geometry of the water, and how the winds change affects how you sail.” said Millar. “There are so many influencing factors that affect you in the water.”
Millar aspires to one day sail a Finn sailboat in the Olympics for Canada, and is dedicated to making his dream a reality. Spending six hours each day on the water and playing hockey in the off season to stay in shape, Millar continues to match his natural talent with hard work daily.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what he does.” said Murdoch “’He’s definitely quite knowledgeable and a fun guy.”
With the new addition to their team along with the other experienced collegiate sailors the Marauders hope to continue to be smooth sailing for the rest of their season.