Sophomore sailor making name for herself at Connecticut College
Recent grad Mike Marshall and current senior Gabe Salk are among those who have competed for the Camels. Earlier this month, Allen and Salk teamed up for a strong sixth-place finish in the Sister Esther Open. The regatta was hosted by Salve Regina University and sailed on Narragansett Bay.
Allen has lived in Jamestown her entire life. She attended the Jamestown schools until the sixth grade when she transferred to the Lincoln School in Providence. She played on the squash team at Lincoln, and will join the Connecticut College squad during her sailing off-season.
Allen learned to sail at the Conanicut Yacht Club and was a member of the Advanced Racing 420 team. During the summers, she still coaches at the club, working with young Optimist sailors. When it came time to look for colleges, Allen said she only considered schools with sailing teams. The location of Connecticut College helped convince her.
At most schools with sailing programs, students have to drive to practice. Allen cited Boston College as an example, where the team travels 20 minutes to practice, and then face rush hour coming back. She said it could result in an hour-long trip. Connecticut College, however, is located right on the banks of the Thames River.
“We just walk down,” Allen said. “It gives us extra time to practice. That was a really big thing, and I really like the school. That was a big pull in the college selection process.”
Connecticut College is also adjacent to the Coast Guard Academy that allows the Camels to practice with the cadets at least once a week. For the most part, Allen has been sailing FJs and 420s for the college team.
Allen began her college career sailing mostly women’s regattas, with a few scattered coed events. This year, however, she has sailed mostly coed regattas, participating in just one women’s regatta at Dartmouth. Her performance at the Erwin Schell Regatta at MIT three weeks ago helped the Camels qualify for the Atlantic Coast Championship that took place last weekend in Charleston. (The 13th-ranked Camels finished 13th out of 18 teams.) According to Allen, the top seven schools at the Schell Regatta qualified for the championship. The Camels finished fourth, the team’s best ever finish.
“The best Connecticut College has done at the Schell was fifth,” she said, “and that was in 1998. So we had a really great weekend.”
Both Allen and Salk are members of Conanicut Yacht Club and knew each other before college. They paired together last summer, and it provided them with some local knowledge for the Sister Esther Open on the bay.
There were 20 New England teams in the regatta that was sailed out of Fort Adams. Each team sent two boats. Allen and Salk sailed in the A division, reserved for each school’s top team. Conditions on the first day were windy and cold, and the Jamestown pair won a race. The following day was less windy, but Allen and Salk still managed another victory.
“There were a lot of close races,” Allen said. “It was really cold. We all had our jackets on. It was a lot of fun though. We don’t usually get that condition, especially at the river where we don’t get very much wind.”
Allen credits the local team’s familiarity with Narragansett Bay as a reason for success.
“We know what it’s like to sail in Narragansett Bay,” she said, “and when the southerly comes in, it’s really fun. Being home gives you a little extra motivation. That didn’t make the competition any less fierce, though.”
Coach Jeff Bresnahan said he paired Allen with Salk at the Esther Open in hopes the two Jamestowners could find local magic in the waters of Narragansett Bay. The regatta was helpful in preparing Allen in last week’s Charleston regatta, he said, where she sailed a 420 to a ninth-place finish in the B division.
“We were excited about their performance,” Bresnahan said.
According to Bresnahan, Allen has fit in well with the team from the first day she was on campus. He credits the coaching she received from Connecticut College alumni who live in Jamestown, including Dave and Mike Marshall.
“We can’t be happier,” he said. “To be able to make the trip as crew for our fall coed championship as a sophomore is a pretty special thing. We’re excited with her effort and her ability at this point.”