TEAM SPOTLIGHT: UNITED STATES MERCHANT MARINE ACADEMY KINGS POINT
Kings Point has a history as a powerhouse in college sailing, but the sailing team confronts an extra challenge when making this possible. The team loses a number of its sailors for a period of time throughout the four years of competition. Kings Point is a merchant marine academy, the midshipmen earn their U. S. Coast Guard third mate or third engineer license, which requires the sailors acquire a year of sea days.
“They do this by going out as a cadet on a commercial ship. Basically that means, in our trimester system, when they are a sophomore they go out during the winter trimester at the end of October through March, and again as a junior for the winter and spring trimesters, October through June,” Coach Michael Collins explains. “There is no other school that does this.”
Similar to a five-year program where students earn an undergraduate and master’s degree, Kings Point graduates earn their undergrad degree and their U.S. Coast Guard license. This sets them apart from even the U.S. Naval Academy and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
Seniors at KP take the license exams right around the same time that the spring college sailing nationals are scheduled. The upside is that freshmen and sophomores have an opportunity to compete at a high level on the sailing team immediately.
“Obviously we still have seniors on the team, but they haven’t sailed since the previous fall, so we rely heavily on underclassmen to step up and go to big regattas,” Collins says.
What the sailors and midshipmen learn at the waterfront directly relates to what they will pursue in their fi eld of work.
“Whether out on a ship, or in a 420, learning about wind and current, it’s going to make the job working toward becoming a captain better,” Collins says.
The waterfront at KP is for actual training and learning. The Department of Waterfront Operations and Training at Kings Point is responsible for the varsity sailing team, but also the varsity rowing team, power squadron, sailing squadron and varsity off shore sailing team. The sailing team uses the Yocum Sailing Center as its main facility, which contains everything the team could need, and more, including locker rooms, team rooms, boat bays, classrooms, machine shop and rigging shop.
The dinghy team has fl eets of 20 Z420s, 20 FJS and 20 Lasers, as well as motorboats at the center. There is also a new pier at the waterfront that docks a 175- foot training ship, an ex-navy YP boat, and other training vessels used by all of the academy.
“We have our own dedicated maintenance staff at the waterfront, which is especially handy during regattas,” Collins says. “If we have a breakdown during a rotation, we can pull the boat out, and it will be fixed and back to use for the next rotation.”
While the goal of the sailing team is to compete at the highest level and do the best they can, it’s also an escape from the regimen of service- academy life.
“Midshipmen may wear uniforms and square corners, but the sailing team members also enjoy four years of coming out and sailing as a break from life ‘ up the hill’ at their barracks. It’s also a nice place to come, not just to be a sailor, but also to pursue your career,” says Collins.
RANKING NO. 1 , ISSUED SEPTEMBER 22, 2017
COED 1. Georgetown 2. Yale 3. Boston Univ. 4. Hobart/wm. Smith 5. Boston College 6. Charleston 7. Harvard 8. Tufts 9. Navy 10. St. Mary’s 11. Stanford 12. MIT 13. Dartmouth 14. George Washington 15. Bowdoin 16. Brown 17. Coast Guard 18. Roger Williams 19. Connecticut 20. Fordham (tie) 20. Kings Point (tie) WOMENS 1. Yale 2. Boston College 3. Coast Guard 4. Rhode Island 5. Dartmouth 6. Georgetown 7. Boston Univ. 8. George Washington 9. Charleston 10. Stanford 11. Brown 12. Connecticut 13. Tufts 14. Harvard 15. MIT 16. Pennsylvania 17. St. Mary’s 18. Vermont 19. Hobart/wm. Smith 20. Bowdoin
Kings Pointer, Liberator, – Jennifer Mitchell