For Stanford sailing’s coed and team racing squads, the next week will offer them a chance to get a crack at their first ever program national title.
For sophomore skipper Will La Dow, the regatta also means a trip back home. La Dow grew up sailing at San Diego Yacht Club — the championship host venue — while a junior sailor and as a member of Point Loma High School’s sailing team, and he will launch his boat yet again from the club as an integral part of both Cardinal squads.
“I’m really excited to be back home,” La Dow says. “I feel really comfortable in the area and can’t wait to spend some time in my favorite city. I have only sailed at the specific venue a few times, so local knowledge won’t be an incredible advantage. With that being said, I have sailed well there in the past and have a pretty good idea of what to expect.”
La Dow is far from the only member of the “hometown crew” who will compete for the title at the championship. Just two of the top-10 sailing programs in the country are without a San Diego area native on their roster (none in the top-7), and many of the locals, including La Dow and Georgetown’s Nevin Snow, will play an integral role in determining which team is able to capture each of the titles.
“Every regatta feels like a reunion and that’s one of the coolest things about competitive collegiate sailing,” La Dow says. “A lot of my best friends sail at various schools around the country so events like this are a great opportunity to see everyone. On top of that, it will get to see my friends from home so I get the best of both worlds. However, when it comes down to it I’m there to win, so sailing comes first.”
La Dow has been a major reason why Stanford sailing has remained amongst the best teams in the nation this season. Together with senior skippers Antoine Screve and Axel Sly, La Dow has helped form a formidable team race squad that has easily become the best on the west coast.
La Dow has also been one of the skippers of choice in fleet racing, winning five of eight races in the A division of the conference championship with junior crew Nikki Obel.
While La Dow would love to cap his strong season with a top-rate performance at home, he knows that, in the deep championship field, nothing is a given.
“Doing well feels so much better at home. I’m definitely putting some pressure on myself, but, at the end of the day, there are a ton of talented sailors in the mix so it’s anyone’s game. I can promise we will put up our best fight and I’m excited to see how it ends up.”
Stanford began its championship campaign at the team race finals on Saturday and will continue on to the coed finals on Tuesday.
Contact Andrew Mather at amather ‘at’ stanford.edu.