Sports team highlight

Sailing seniors appreciate their time on and off the water

Q&A with seniors from the MIT Sailing team, whose spring season was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic

MIT Sailing was only able to participate in four competitions this spring before their season was canceled due to the move off campus: the Women’s Team Race Regatta at Boston University, the Sharpe Trophy at Brown University, the Wood Trophy at Harvard University, and the MIT Team Race Invitational at home. The Tech asked seniors Marcus Abate, Julia Cho, Stephen Duncan, Zoe Lallas, Abbie Lee, Lynn Liu, Brooke McGoldrick, Fiona McKellar, and David Morejon to reflect on how the shortened season has affected them. Lallas, Abate, Cho, and McKellar responded.

The interview has been edited lightly for length and clarity.

The Tech: What is your favorite memory from your MIT Sailing career?

Zoe Lallas: My favorite memory while being with the team is recent but absolutely the way I want to remember MIT Sailing until I come back. Our last day of practice may have happened sooner than we realized or wanted but it was easily my favorite day on the water. The entire team spent all practice team racing and switching boats and sailing together for the last time in hopefully a long time, not ever. Our coaches sailed, we had local alumni sail, the seniors sailed together. The weather was perfect for March, and the sunset was beautiful. For three hours, amidst COVID-19 panic, I forgot about everything except sailing and my teammates, my friends.

Marcus Abate: My favorite memory is definitely winning the national championship in 2018. We won by some ridiculous number of points, if you want to check you can do it at

I was one of the crews for that regatta and only sailed a few races (it was a light breeze for most of it), but I think those few races were some of the best of my career. In particular I remember that after we won, our team swam out to meet the teammates who were sailing before they hit the dock and we hoisted the MIT burgee (flag) up the mast of one of the boats. We also all dyed our hair red at the start of the regatta; this was the only time in my life I've messed with my hair in any way that didn't involve scissors.

Julia Cho: My favorite memory would be sailing towards shore after the last race of the 2018 Coed Nationals, already knowing that we’d won the whole regatta by more than 100 points. We were in Boat 1, which was an awesome coincidence, and when our teammates on shore waded/swam/kayaked out towards us, we flipped our boat and jumped in the water to celebrate.

Fiona McKellar: My favorite memory from my sailing career was actually the very last practice we had, before school got shut down. Alumni that were still around came, and everyone switched around pairings lots of times to be able to sail with as many different people as possible one last time. Everyone's mindset was focused not only on the competition but also just having fun one last time with everyone together, which made it a really great time.

TT: What do you appreciate most about the senior class?

Lallas: I appreciate how much we make each other better. I know for a fact that I would not be the sailor I am today without my fellow seniors. They made the team so welcoming when I joined and made the transition from stranger to teammate so effortless. They have pushed me to be a better sailor and a better person. I like how natural it feels to spend time with them. We made a really good effort of spending time together outside of practice at MIT and even now, from all our corners of the world.

Abate: The senior class is very close-knit. Some of us were internationally ranked high-performance sailors at the start of our freshman year; others started sailing for the first time. Even others still joined a year later. Despite the wide perceived gap, we all ended up in the same place and I don't think I could have accomplished what I did without the help of the rest of the class (and the team).

Cho: I love how tight-knit, hardworking, and honest our senior class is. Some of my favorite people in the world are fellow seniors on the sailing team! We were obviously disappointed about the school year ending early, but if anything, this pandemic has motivated us to stay in touch for the rest of our lives rather than letting our connection sizzle out after graduation.

McKellar: The sailing 20s were the first people I met at MIT. and I’m sure they will be in my life long after college is over. I like that they are one of the few ‘constant’ things in my life. I feel like no matter what else is going on in our lives (academics, other friends, etc), they are the friend group that sticks together the most.

TT: What message do you have for the rest of your team and for future Sailing teams at MIT?

Lallas: It may be short and cheesy but just keep sailing.

Abate: My message is to sail as many boats in as many positions as possible. I came in with a lot of experience and already had this, but some of our best sailors just started when they joined the team. These individuals succeeded by skippering outside of practice in our boats and other weird ones that they could get access to.

Cho: Sail the foiling boats! Especially the UF(Ch)O :’) 

McKellar: Make the most of the friendships you have with your team; they're gonna be with you for the next four years!

The Tech wishes we could’ve seen the team sail out the rest of the year and is deeply saddened that their season was cut short. However, it is clear that the team has built a strong set of bonds over the last four years, and have formed friendships that will only be strengthened from this pandemic. Our hearts go out to all the seniors who had their final season cut short, and we commend them for the excellent example of sportsmanship and friendship that they have set for their teammates. We look forward to watching the sailing team continue to excel in the coming years.