March 2, 2020
Relay for Life:
This month the team has decided to take part in Relay for Life, a fundraiser associated with the American Cancer Society. Relay for Life will take place in the Hamel Rec Center on April 4th from 10am to 10pm. Cancer is a devastating diagnosis but with every dollar donated we are closer to beating it. The sailing team would greatly appreciate any money you are able to spare as this is a cause we hold close to our hearts. We also invite anyone to join us on April 4th to walk the track in the HRC to raise awareness and have some fun while we are at it! To donate please visit the link below and search for UNH Sailing!
Boat Refurbishment Project:
Our sailing team officers have been working diligently to lead the refurbishment our racing fleet of FJs. Our fleet is now a decade old and has been actively used by the UNH Sailing Team, the MYSST high school team, and the community summer program. The constant use of our boats requires timely upkeep, however with a decade of wear and tear the necessary repairs to our fleet have become demanding.
With that said, our sailing team has decided to send out all eighteen of our boats for refurbishment during the summer. Ultimately, regardless of cost and the age of our fleet, the team felt that this was a necessary step to take in order to ensure the future of fun and safe sailing. Not only will this guarantee a successful future for the UNH Sailing Team, but the value of our fleet will increase when boat replacement does become crucial.
We estimated the cost of this boat refurbishment project to be between $10,000 to $15,000, and the team is actively fundraising to meet this goal. To date, we have raised approximately $6,000.
The team cannot wait for a shiny fleet of FJs for our 2020 fall season.
Community Sailing Registration:
Did you know that the UNH Community Sailing Center offers a summer camp for kids ages 5-18? They offer 7 week-long sessions throughout the summer including a morning session from 9am to noon, and an afternoon session from 12:30pm to 3:30pm. The camp is perfect for kids of any ability who want to brush up on their sailing, improve their skills, or even learn to sail for the first time! Classes include Guppies (aged 5-7) and Beginner/Intermediate to more advanced classes for older students. There are also classes for paddleboarding and kayaking for ages 8-18, and a junior racing team for more advanced sailors aged 12-18. The UNH Community Sailing Youth Program not only teaches important sailing skills, but also confidence, responsibility, and teamwork; skills that last a lifetime! Registration is now open at unh.edu/youthprograms, be sure to register soon as sessions fill up fast!
This year the 603 Challenge will be hosted during April 3rd to April 7th. The 603 Challenge is an annual event that offers alumni, parents, faculty, staff, students, and friends the chance to make an impactful gift to an area that means the most to them, especially the UNH Sailing Team! We are so thankful for any contribution, as online donations make up a portion of the team’s fundraising efforts. A group of donors has established a “matching fund” for this challenge, which means contributions may even be doubled. UNH is matching donations up to $200 and the overall amount of funds available to match is $200,000. This year, in light of the team’s boat refurbishment project, the team has a goal of raising $3,000 during the 603 Challenge. The team is asking for the community’s support in this effort. As the 603 Challenge approaches, keep an eye out for more details and news about this event! If you have any questions about the event, please reach out to Katelyn Howe at email@example.com.
At the end of 2019, the Sailing Club was awarded a $3,000 grant from the UNH Parent Association. The Parent Association has been “dedicated to developing and maintaining connections between parents, students, and the UNH community.” They also have an established Parents Council which oversees a grant program for student projects. The Parents Association awards grant money to individuals and student organizations for projects that “benefit scholarship, student learning, enhancement of UNH and the university community.” The Sailing Team is very appreciative towards the Parent Association and their generous gift that will be put toward our boat refurbishment project. To learn more about the Parent Association, follow this link: https://www.unh.edu/parents
The Sailing Team was also awarded another $3,000 from the Alumni Association. The UNH Alumni Association Student Grants Committee “awards grants to provide funds to UNH students… on campus for extracurricular activities and/or extraordinary student needs that otherwise would not be provided for.” The awarded money is “given to students or student organizations to enrich the student experience at UNH and help promote the University of New Hampshire nationally and internationally.” To learn more about the Alumni Association, follow this link: https://unhconnect.unh.edu/s/1518/start.aspx?sid=1518&gid=4
Through the generous award of these two grants, the Sailing Team was able to gain $6,000 to put toward our $15,000 boat refurbishment project, which is set to be completed during the Summer of 2020! The Sailing Team appreciates the support we receive from the UNH community as well as the surrounding areas.
Spring Training Site:
Mendum’s pond is still frozen, and probably will be for a while. However, we are excited to begin our spring season at the Wentworth By The Sea Marina. We hope to hold practice at least three days a week in order to prepare for our upcoming regattas this semester as well as in the fall. Thank you to the Wentworth By The Sea for allowing our team to practice at the marina this spring!
Erica Beck Spencer taught herself how to race sailboats messing about on a Sunfish on Pawtuckaway Lake in NH. Starting at age 6 she crewed for her father but at age ten she kicked him off the sunfish and has loved skippering ever since. She joined the University of New Hampshire sailing team as a freshman, and despite her lack of formal training, started racing competitively in the top coed events, women’s events, and women’s single-handed events. She was nominated to be the captain of the team as a freshman, served in this role for two years and then served as Commodore for a half year. Erica led the UNH women’s team to become nationally ranked for her junior and senior years (highest ranking 7th). In 1995, she finished 2nd at the New England Women’s Single-Handed Championship qualifying for Nationals in Portland, Oregon, where she finished 7th. Her senior year she came in first in B division for the Women’s New England double-handed.
Post college she became a teacher and couldn’t afford to buy a boat of her own so she crewed on top Lightnings, Etchells, and J24 teams. In 2002, she finished 13th at the Lightning North Americans, with over 100 boats qualifying for her first world championship in Miami. After moving to Portland, ME she started crewing on an Etchells doing well in the local fleet, but decided a J24 would be a better boat to own with a young family and switched to learn everything she could about the J24 with hopes of owning one someday. This team dominated in local events but rarely traveled. In 2014 this team qualified for and attended the J24 Worlds in Newport in 2014 with Erica on the bow. Out of 72 teams there were two all-female teams. Erica vowed to change this ratio and was determined to skipper a J24.
Post Newport Worlds, in the fall of 2014, Jess Harris and Erica teamed up to start an all-women’s J24 team with a goal of qualifying for the 2017 Worlds in Ontario, Canada. Jess bought the boat and asked Erica to skipper, a dream come true, one that couldn’t have happened financially without Jess’s help. Within this first year they became sponsored by Sea Bags, a company turning old beloved sails into fancy bags. Not only did the team reach this goal of starting a team and qualifying for and attending worlds, they finished as the top female team, winning the Jaeger Women’s Trophy for all-women crews at the Sept. 15-23 2017 J/24 World Championship in Mississauga, Canada and Erica won the top female skipper award.
Notable Sea Bags Women’s Sailing Team Accomplishments
Date Event Place Fleet size
Oct 2018 J24 East Coast Champs 7th 26
Sept 2018 J24 US Nationals 17th 48
June 2018 J24 District 1 Champs 3rd 12
Sept 2017 J24 Worlds, Ontario CA 39th 63
July 2016 Marblehead NOOD 2nd (tied for first) 11
Aug. 2015 ONE PHRF Regatta, Marblehead 1st 12
The team’s 3rd place finish at the 2018 District Champs qualified them for the 2nd World Championship in Miami in Sept 2019. In 2019 the Sea Bags Women’s Sailing Team will travel to Mexico to race in the North American Championship, to Rochester, NY for the US Nationals, and then to Worlds in Miami. It will be a big year for the team and they hope to continue to make steady progress getting closer and closer to the pros who dominate the fleet.
In addition to racing Erica tries to give back to the sailing community by writing about her lessons learned in the Sea Bags Blog “Dock Talk”. In 2019 her team hopes to give back in other ways including running a clinic for girls at Sail Maine. She is certified by US Sailing to teach Level 1 Sailing Instructors and tries to find time to do this annually.
She truly hopes to continue to support and encourage other females to stay in the sport post college and to compete at the highest levels.
She can be reached at:
and you can follow along with the team on Facebook, Twitter, or at the Sea Bags Sailing Team website