There are many important factors that attributes to the success of the sailing team at the University of Rhode Island, but what matters the most is preparation, mental toughness and teamwork.

The team is split between co-ed and the women’s team, and includes more than 50 members who have helped become one of the best in the country over the last few seasons.  

“We ended the fall season ranked first in the country, which is very, very special,” said head coach Skip White.

The team has dodged countless obstacles, adverse weather conditions and a variety of challenges to overcome adversity and earn their ranking. One unpredictable challenge however, is “taking all of the pitches that Mother Nature sends our way,” White said. “The real challenge is dealing with the many mental challenges that the sport presents.” There are delays, wind and weather conditions that plays a major factor in sailing competitions. The team has shown mental and physical toughness consistently, which are some of the most important factors in sailing. They compete on any given weekend with five to six events between co-ed and women’s teams.

Junior skipper Rachel Bryer, an honorable mention All-American in her freshman year in 2013, has done a solid job splitting her time between coed and the women’s team this season.

“She’s a great leader, a great student and a great talent,” said White. “Before I took the job at URI, I ran into Rachel while I was doing volunteer coaching at North Kingstown High School, and when I saw her, I thought ‘Wow this girl has talent.’ Lo and behold, months later, I’m here at URI, and had the opportunity to work with Rachel and this is our third year here.” Although Bryer had some up and down performances, White believes her hard work, dedication and improvements helped Bryer improve overall.

The sailing team strives to be the best in the country, and believes they are in a great position to be able to pull it off. The biggest competition the Rhode Island sailing team faces, however, is from the Coast Guard Academy – the “neighbors from the west.” According to White, the Coast Guard Academy looked solid recently with fielding their best team in decades.

“They are enjoying success this year, ranked second just a touch behind us, and we’re going to have to work really hard to beat them plus a bunch of other good teams,” White said.

“Our women’s teams came on very strong last year, and junior crew member Marisa Decolibus came on strong,” said White. “The fall season is over now, and we lost the tiebreaker at the Atlantic Coast Championship which is a huge disappointment. Obviously we want to win. “In sailing, unlike some other sports, we are a one-division sport. We compete against division one, two and three teams as well.”

White believes with the right amount of dedication, hard work and perseverance, the team can put themselves in a great position to continue success as the best team in the country. The team made it into top-10 competitions and national championships during the last couple of years, but that left them with a “half empty stomach and we weren’t satisfied with that.” While the women “set a terrific example for our entire team,” Coach White wants the entire team to have self-awareness and avoid poor performances. “We’re pushing the ball forward, trying to get better and the women are certainly leading the charge,” said White.

The team goal is moving ahead and preparing for spring season where the most important events take place.