Junior Christina Falcone always knew that she wanted to visit Hawaii some day. She had just always imagined that she would be visiting for longer than three days.
Some would claim visiting Hawaii is a childhood dream, but Falcone’s dream is not the visit but rather the reason for the visit. From Nov. 18-20, Falcon, a member of the University’s sailing club, will compete in the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association’s annual Vanguard Single-handed North American Championships in Honolulu.
This will be Falcone’s third visit to the Vanguard, which took place in Florida in 2003 and Minnesota in 2004. She placed 11th out of 16 in 2003 and 14th in 2004.
In order to qualify for the tournament, Falcone won the Midwest’s Single-handed Championship in October at Marquette University in Milwaukee.
First stepping on a sailboat at age 10, Falcone began sailing competitively soon thereafter. Not necessarily the most popular of sports for the average 10-year-old, Falcone found in sailing what she had always wanted: an opportunity to compete.
Attending eight-week courses at the Bay View Yacht Club in Detroit from eight in the morning until five at night, Falcon admitted her summers since then have consisted of sailing.
“Each week we had regatta against the other students at camp,” Falcone said. “I learned to love the competition that sailing offered.”
But Falcone’s competition at the Vanguard will be much different from the rivals she faced at Bay View Yacht Club. Falcone will be sailing against varsity teams, particularly those from the East Coast such as Harvard, Yale and Dartmouth, all of which enjoys the perks of varsity status the least of which is coaches.
“I will probably be the only person at the Vanguard Regatta without a coach,” Falcone said.
With only club status at Michigan, the sailing team consists entirely of students from the University, from the president to the secretary. And with each new year, a new set of students fills in the spots left by the students who graduated. The constant fluctuation causes difficulties in stability that many club teams do not understand. There is no coach to ensure that the team will survive.
Practicing three times a week in Dexter, 30 minutes from campus also causes commuting difficulties for the team, not to mention Michigan’s winters and the tendency of the lakes to freeze.
Much like Falcone, the team consists of members that have been sailing since a young age and for whom the thought of quitting is unthinkable. The atmosphere on the team offers members an opportunity to not only sail but also to do so without the pressures of winning.
Falcone admits that sailing in the Olympics is not one of her life goals.
“I hope to go on sailing for the rest of my life,” Falcone said. “But I don’t want to sacrifice my sanity for it. Many of the women I will compete against (at the Vanguard) have Olympic campaigns, making sailing their life.”
The race will consist of 15 short, 45-minute races, in a three-day period off the coast of Oahu, specifically, Waikiki Beach. Each competitor will receive a new boat and will put it together on the dock to ensure equality.
“Much of my success will depend on the wind,” Falcone said. “And considering my size (5-foot-3), if the wind is strong, the race will be more difficult for me. But if the wind stays moderately clam, I have a good opportunity to do very well.”