Jon Roger,s from Coronado Yacht Club, was one of the commentators at this year’s College Sailing Nationals. Providing viewers step by step breakdowns of the Women’s Championships, Team Racing Championships, and Coed Champions, Jon received nothing but positive feedback, and for his first time commentating too! He took the time to sit down with us to discuss his favorite commentator moments- from watching sailors make silly mistakes to hearing how dedicated these collage sailors are- read on for more!
LP: Thanks for speaking with us today, Jon! Do you mind providing some background? When did you start sailing?
Well, I’m currently the Head Coach at Coronado Yacht Club in San Diego. I started working at J World Sailing School out in San Diego about a year after high school. I participated in the Olympic Trials in 1992 then pretty much went broke and that ended that. Then I started my professional sailing career.
LP: What was your favorite part about commentating College Nationals?
My favorite part was definitely seeing how amazingly cool the system is! You have all of these veteran coaches and really good students. It’s a pretty calm competition- very sportsmanlike. I really love that part of it. One of the coolest things I realized is that none of these teams look at results. They do what they are trained to do: they go out and play the percentages, keep their heads down and get the two best races they can. No one had any idea at the end how many points anyone had, I mean the coaches knew but didn’t talk about the results at all. It’s not the results….they aren’t stressed out about the results! They care about having fun and doing their best, which is the best thing for these athletes.
LP: That’s great. What’s a fun College Nationals story that you have?
(He laughs) Probably watching Nicole Barnes from Coast Guard Academy, when she crossed the finish line at the end of Women’s Nationals, she capsized way earlier than she planned because she knew she won it…but she capsized 10 feet away from the finish line! So everyone was scrambling to cross the finish line and immediately turn around so they don’t hit her. It was great; here you have the best sailor in the race make one mistake and it happens right after she finished the regatta. She pretty much dominated the event though, it was really cool. The celebrations in general are always super fun, these sailors celebrate in quirky and entertaining ways, but that one was unique in that it happened so quickly.
LP: Is there any moment that sticks out in your mind from College Nationals?
I think the biggest thing I witnessed that was absolutely amazing was a Georgetown thing. They pulled a senior out on Sunday- his name was Sean Golden…he was in the top 2 or 3 in the A division and on Saturday he was winning because he had 5 or 6 top finishes. They pulled him out and put a freshman in to replace him as the wind got lighter…but they held on to win Nationals! Against it just goes back to the fact that college sailing is so amazing because throughout the season they develop a game plan. Despite the fact that they were going to be replacing a senior with a freshman…the coach did it! These college teams train so much, so long, so hard, and they set a game plan and stick with it. There’s no panic; it’s cool to see.
LP: Why do you think team racing is so popular in North America?
With team racing the thing I recognized is that the competition is not as important as it is in the other two: women’s and coed. The sailors participating in team racing have so much fun that they would do it even if there wasn’t a winner. They would probably all be happy to race all three days and go home and not care about who wins. It’s an interesting level of competitiveness because not one kid walks away upset. They all just do it for good fun.
Watch videos from the event at LaserPerformance’s YouTube channel and be sure to check out the LaserPerformance Collegiate Cup, another team racing event happening in August, at www.laserperformancecollegiatecup.com