Hotchkiss Sailing began in 1931. A long tradition for sure, but one that is continually evolving, growing stronger and fostering team. Our motto is "Remember Why You Love this Sport." We sail fast and we sail fair.
Sailing is a self-governing and self-disciplined sport. While we are not afraid to protest we do not use the protest as an offensive weapon. We sail within the rules but know them very well.
Sailing at Hotchkiss is a spring sport. We begin our season in Florida for a weeklong clinic organized and coordinated by the coaching staff. We use the days to practice boat speed and boat handling and the evenings to bond as a team and to learn tactics and rules. When we arrive on campus after our spring break we hope Lake Wononscopomuc is ice-free. We begin our lake practices the day after (or the day of) ice out. Needless-to-say, drysuits and several layers of warm clothes are necessary and required.
We practice four-days a week and compete on the weekends. Practices are designed to isolate a specific skill (mark rounding, mark trap, pass back, etc.) for each ability level or to race as a fifteen-boat fleet. We usually have 28-30 sailors on the team with 8 on the varsity team, 10-12 on the JV team and 8-10 on the instructional squad Our weekend regattas are either home or away with some of our competitions several hours away. We usually sail three or four other teams each weekend day in a best of three or five team race format. High school team racing is three vs. three.
We often have graduate sailors join us in Florida or for a day or two on the water. It is gratifying to see the interaction between an All-American college sailor and a young sailor on The Hotchkiss team! The greatest benefit the team members enjoy, as part of the sailing team is that of camaraderie. Team members, having the opportunity to travel, learn, and sail together as part of team racing competition, not only develop advanced sailing techniques but also form several close friendships. The advantages of training as a team are that skills are shared and the learning curve is accelerated among all team members.
-- Roger Rawlings, Head Coach, Varsity Sailing
Hotchkiss has been consistently in the top four schools in New England and has enjoyed very successful national regattas. Recently, we have three New England fleet race titles (2011, 2013, 2014) and one New England team race title (2013), as well as three Connecticut state championships (2009, 2011, 2012). The team finished third at the national team race championships in 2011 and third at the national fleet race championships in 2013.
The lake is a great place to sail with good breezes that shift continually, challenging even the best skippers. The lake teaches sailors to see and anticipate the breeze but above all it demands patience. Skill levels are refined at Hotchkiss and sailors find that their summer regatta experiences are even stronger after only one season on our lake. In addition to the fleet of 15 420’s we have six collegiate FJ’s. Our boathouse includes two locker rooms, showers and an equipment room and is a short walk from the dorms and classrooms. We have a staff of four coaches and three powerboats so our practices are not only efficient but also safe. For the 2017 season we have sets of new sails for our 420’s.
Head coach Roger Rawlings has coached at Hotchkiss since 1994. Roger grew up sailing in Newport Beach, CA first in Sabots and Lido 14’s, then Shields and PHRF. He competed in several of the Southern California offshore races, being on the first place boats to Cabo San Lucas twice. In addition to coaching here, Roger has managed the Nantucket YC and Castine YC summer programs.
Assistant Coach Jim Fornshell grew up lake sailing here in Connecticut; he later did some big-boat sailing in the British Virgin Islands. He has been working with the Hotchkiss sailing program since 2001.
Assistant coach Richard Davis has been sailing recreationally for much of his life, but began racing sailboats as an adult on Chesapeake Bay. He has been a sailing coach at Hotchkiss since 2006.
Assistant coach Amanda McClure joined the sailing team in the spring of 2013. In addition to serving as dean of the Class of 2020 and as a religion & philosophy teacher, Coach McClure also works with the Fairfield Farm program.