February 16, 1999
KALAMAZOO -- Navy, Harvard, Hawaii, Stanford and Western Michigan University -- they're all a part of the latest list of the nation's top 20 college sailing teams.
The publication of the latest standings in the February issue of Sailing World magazine, marks the first time in WMU sailing history that the University's team has cracked the ranks of the college sailing world's elite. In fact, WMU, which is currently ranked 20th, is the only Midwestern school on the list.
"A number of other schools, especially those in the Midwest, were shocked to see us on the list," says Aaron P. Boesenecker, commodore of the WMU Sailing Club and a senior from Hamilton, Mich.
Sweetening the accomplishment even more, Boesenecker notes, is the fact that WMU is the only organization without a varsity, coached sailing program to appear in the rankings. WMU sailors are organized as a club sport and they coach and finance their own competitions.
The national standings reflect the results Inter-Collegiate Yacht Racing Association competitions held through the end of November, when Midwest collegiate sailing stops for the winter. The 1998-99 season resumes in March and WMU's first spring competition is a March 13-14 event at the State University of New York Maritime College, located near New York City. The team's meet in its district, The Midwest Collegiate Sailing Association, is slated for March 20-21 at the University of Notre Dame.
Boesenecker says the team's top 20 ranking can be traced to three major accomplishments last fall. WMU sent four crews to a Michigan State University meet in October and came home with first, second and fifth place finishes. Then in November, WMU crews placed fifth at national competitions in Detroit and Chicago.
"We've been steadily improving for the past few years," Boesenecker says, "and last fall we really blossomed."
The 50-member club, includes about 20 seasoned racers as well as students who are less experienced sailors. The club competes at 16 meets each fall and eight to 10 meets in the spring, often sending crews to weekend meets in more than one location.
When not competing, club members tackle Gull Lake for practice and training. The Gull Lake Yacht Club allows the team to use its facilities and the team houses two team-owned boats there. The team also shares the use of four boats with the yacht club.
Besides their February appearance in Sailing World, the team also has been contacted by Sailing, another national sailing magazine. Editors for that publication are considering one or more articles on collegiate sailing at WMU.
Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 616 387-8400, firstname.lastname@example.org
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