Sailing Team Looks to Build on Historic Season


Last year marked the 60th anniversary of the founding of the sailing club, and the first time in team history that the women’s squad qualified for the ICSA Women’s National Dinghy Championship.

Last year marked the first year in their history that the sailing team went to nationals. (Courtesy of Coach Joe Sullivan)

Following last season’s success the club signed its first professional coach in Reed Johnson. Johnson has previously been an assistant with the University of Pennsylvania and Boston College (BC) teams, with much of his tenure as an assistant at BC spent leading the number one team in the country.

According to the team’s website, the sailing club “was resurrected in 2000 by seven students who ‘dared to dream.’” The current team includes three students from Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC): co-captain Sarah McKay, FCLC ’12, co-captain Emma Pfohman, FCLC ’13, and  Dan Canziani, FCLC ’14.

Many Fordham students know little to nothing about one of the most successful teams on campus, but might be interested in what exactly the sailing team does. The team practices three days a week at Morris Yacht & Beach Club on the tip of City Island. The location is about ten minutes away from the Rose Hill Campus. Canziani said, “Tuesdays and Thursdays are basically drill days. Wednesday is a mini regatta [race].” Drills include “tacking on the whistle,” which Canziani described as “when the coach blows the whistle, we switch sides on the boat, and turn it around.” It sounds simple, but nothing is that simple when trying to organize both wind and water.

The team’s weekends are filled with competition. Regattas are almost every weekend from the beginning of the school year to mid-November, and they start up again in early January with a trip to the Rose Bowl Regatta in Southern California.

Regattas aren’t light work by any means. “A typical regatta starts pretty early. I’d say like 9 a.m. And it finishes around 3 p.m. or a little earlier, but we have breaks in between,” Canziani said.

A full day of sailing is followed by repeating the entire endeavor on Sunday. “This weekend four members of team will go to Virginia, four to Ocean County College in New Jersey, four to Kings Point and me and three others go to New York Maritime.  It’s mostly in the upper half of the East Coast. Places like Massachusetts, upstate New York, that kind of stuff.”

The addition of hiring a professional coach has added a new dimension to the team. Coach Johnson is under contract for three years and replaces volunteer coach Joe Sullivan, who will stay on as director of sailing operations. Sullivan had served as volunteer coach ever since the team was resurrected in 2000. Sullivan said, “Due to Fordham’s location, the team’s track record and alumni support, the position has the opportunity to become one of the best college sailing coaching jobs in the country.”

The team will co-host two regattas with Columbia this year. The Big Apple Classic/Jesuit Open is held on Oct. 1 and Oct. 2 and the MAISA Club Teams’ Championship is on Nov. 5 and Nov. 6.