By SCOTT CHIUSANO
This fall, there will be a new varsity team testing the waters at Cornell. The women’s sailing team — formerly a club program — has been elevated to varsity status as announced by Andy Noel, the Meakem Smith Director of Athletics and Physical Education, over the summer.
“This is an exciting announcement for many in the Cornell community, and I’d like to thank the loyal and generous alumni who have fully funded this move to varsity status,” Noel said in a statement. “It is a requirement that any additional sports be fully funded before we are able to consider adding to our varsity roster. We are excited women sailors will have the opportunity to experience a varsity program.”
The idea of adding women’s sailing to Cornell’s varsity sports resume has been in the works, and was helped along by a group of alumni led by Ted Moore ’71, Rob Swanson ’74 and Doug Merrill ’89.
With an extensive schedule and a 10-woman roster, the sailing team will make its varsity debut on September 13 at the Cornell Fall Open, which will be held in the Merrill Family Sailing Center. Though the team was a club program last season, head coach Brian Clancy and his sailors have experience competing at this new level, since many of their meets in the past were against varsity competition.
At the 2013 Intercollegiate Sailing Association Women’s National Championships, the Red finished third, defeating some varsity teams and jumping from eighth place to third on the final day of competition. Two members of that squad were named to the 2014 All-MAISA Conference team — Lindsey Ludwig ’14 and senior Jenny Borshoff, who returns to the roster this season.
14 other schools offer women’s sailing as a varsity sport, including three Ivy League opponents — Dartmouth, Harvard and Yale. After the Cornell Fall Open, the team will travel to New Hampshire for the Mrs. Hurst Bowl, hosted by Dartmouth.
The Red has the luxury of its own training center in Ithaca, which, according to Noel, was an important part in assisting the transition to varsity status.
“The generous gift by the Merrill family toward the Merrill Family Sailing Center went a large way in allowing us to make this move,” Noel said. “Our women’s sailing program immediately has a training center as impressive as any in the country.”
Cornell granted the head coaching position to Brian Clancy, a graduate of Hobart, where he helped his own sailing team to a pair of national titles. Clancy has been with the sailing club for four years.
“We have been hoping for this move and our team members have been working hard to impress the Cornell community on and off the water,” Clancy said. “It is with tremendous support from our alumni, families and friends that we are able to make this happen for our team. We extend our deepest gratitude to those who have contributed their time and efforts to making this happen. We couldn’t be more proud to represent the Cornell Big Red.”