Senior sailor to round out career representing GW at fourth national championship

Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo

Senior Riley Legault (right) practices with a teammate last year. Legault will compete in the ISCA Championship for the fourth time in her career.

When senior Riley Legault competes at the Intercollegiate Sailing Association Singlehanded National Championships this weekend – she will be setting program history.

Legault first inked her name into the record books in September when she won the Faye Bennet Middle Atlantic Intercollegiate Sailing Association Women’s Singlehanded Championships. Her win punched her ticket to the ICSA Championships and makes her the first sailor to compete at the championship contest all four years of her career.

“We’re really proud of her,” head coach Billy Martin said. “We have a team of 34 people, and for her to qualify for something like this really gets everyone excited, and everyone has a little bit more pep in their step and has a little bit more drive to make sure she competes well.”

Legault led for a majority of the Faye Bennet regatta, gliding in with several top-five finishes in her earlier races. She fell behind with three races remaining, but pulled through to sail into a first-place finish, nine points ahead of the second-place finisher.

The senior heads to Holland, Mich. this weekend to take on 17 other sailors from universities across the country on a course she and most of her competitors have not sailed before, she said.

“It will be important to get into the racing mode and do my homework before the race, and make sure that I am consistent throughout the regatta from the very start,” Legault said. “I am looking forward to the intense competition that this regatta always brings.”

At the 2015 ICSA Singlehanded Championships, Legault recorded her best ICSA championship finish to date, coming in sixth. In her sophomore and junior seasons, she held onto a top-10 finish, coming in 10th in the field both years.

With four years of experience under her belt, Legault said she has kept her training consistent from season to season. She practices boat handling and gets into racing mode by competing against her teammates in double-handed boats at practice, she said.

For her final ICSA Singlehanded Championship, Martin said he and Legault have focused more on skills and techniques specific to the laser radial boat she will be using during the championship.

While Legault’s sailing has improved overall from her first year, Martin said her sailing IQ and overall knowledge of the sport has increased tremendously during her time with the program.

“She’s been able to, in general, grow as a sailor which has been great to see,” Martin said. “She has always been a fast sailor, but now she is an extremely smart sailor as well, and that’s really dangerous and really important going into an event like this.”

Martin said the championship regatta will be an “absolute dogfight,” but mental resilience is a key factor necessary for success. He said everyone will be talented, but what separates the good from the great is mental toughness.

“You’re going to have some really good races and some really bad races, so being able to keep a good average and keeping a cool head and keeping your head average is really important,” Martin said. “So your highs aren’t too high and your lows aren’t too low.”

The team closed out its co-ed season with an eighth-place finish at the War Memorial hosted by Navy. Even though the season is over, Legault’s teammates have helped her train for her championship regatta.

“The whole team gets really excited and amped up and steps up to help her with her training,” Martin said. “A lot of great team efforts in getting her prepared for it as well.”

Legault said competing individually is different from competing as a team, but she looks forward to competing in “an intense regatta.”

“I am looking forward to the intense competition that this regatta always brings,” Legault said. “It’s always fun to see all of my friends that are from different schools that I normally compete against.”

Legault will compete Nov. 3-4 in her final ICSA Singlehanded Championship regatta in Michigan.

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