pounding as a center at Wisconsin-Eau Claire, he’d had enough of ice.
“I wrote letters to (then-Rainbows coach) Ted Livingston about sailing for UH and never looked back,” says Johnson, who graduated from Manoa in 1983 in education.
Don’t let Johnson’s day job as assistant director at the school’s recreation services program fool you into thinking the sailing team falls into the category of leisure activity. These are real athletes, and UH is consistently among the most competitive of around 300 schools in the ICSA.
“In most ways it’s like any other sport,” Johnson says. Cole Brauer, who crews usually with skipper Pacholski in co-ed competition, is an example of the athleticism required.
She was a soccer goalkeeper, 3,000-meter runner and cheerleader in high school on Long Island, N.Y. Brauer had no competitive sailing experience before UH, but Johnson knew she could be developed into a winning crew in two-handed races.
In four years, she went from novice to two-time All-American headed to her fourth national championships, largely because of her agility and pound-for-pound strength.
“It’s the whole body. Sometimes it’s even cranking your neck a certain way,” Brauer says.
But her ability to read situations during races is her best attribute, according to her teammate.
“She’s learned a lot about the tactics behind sailing, and that’s very helpful when you have a crew who knows what to look for on the water,” Pacholski says. “Different wind directions, keeping track of different boats. That’s a really important quality and Cole definitely has that.”
Says Johnson of Brauer: “On the skipper side of things you need to start young. We do take students with limited experience, and Cole Brauer, a one-time soccer goalie, 3,000-meter runner and cheerleader, is headed to her fourth national championship. She usually is teammed with skipper Michael Pacholski, right, in co-ed competition. if they have the right size and athleticism we can make them good crew. (Brauer is) a genuinely good athlete, on the ball and extremely intelligent.” They are a light team, with Pacholski at 5 feet 11 and 140 pounds and Brauer at 5-2 and 98. That makes things challenging in windy conditions like those often encountered in Hawaii waters, but can be an advantage at Charleston, where it will likely be calmer.
Last month, Brauer became the third sailing team member to win the Jack Bonham Award, given annually to the two UH student-athletes most accomplished in “athletic excellence, academic achievement, public service, leadership and character.” She graduated in nutrition this spring and plans to continue on to medical school. The ICSA women’s championships start Tuesday. The co-ed team race championships get underway Saturday and co-ed dinghy competition begins May 30.