Thursday, March 7, 2013

Nick Valente on Freshman Year at SUNY Maritime

Name: Nick Valente

School: SUNY Maritime College

Hometown: Charleston, South Carolina

SUNY Maritime Sailing Team:

Why did you choose SUNY Maritime? What other programs did you look at?

I chose SUNY because a maritime school really fits with all of my interests.  I have always enjoyed my time on the water, whether it’s on a surfboard, sailboat, motorboat, kayak or whatever.  SUNY has a 565 foot training ship which departs every year to Europe. Getting hands on experience on a ship and travelling to new countries is really interesting to me.  In terms of my career, SUNY looked like a good choice because there are so many job opportunities in the maritime industry.  The other programs I looked at were College of Charleston and the Coast Guard Academy.

What’s it like at a military academy?

Attending a military school has been a big change for me. There are a lot more things that I need to put effort into at SUNY Maritime outside of my school work. Freshman year is a big challenge for me because of all the rules. Having sailing, as part of this experience, keeps me working hard, and helps get me through the tough challenges I face every day. SUNY makes me realize how much I actually enjoy sailing.

What are you studying?

My major is Marine Transportation with a 3rd Mates license. This is a Coast Guard issued license that allows me to work on all kinds of ships, including cargo ships, cruise lines, etc.

How is college sailing different than high school sailing?

I feel like College sailing is just another step up in the ranks.  It’s a lot more competitive and serious.

What do you like about College Sailing/Dislike?

So far, I am in love with college sailing. I love how it is competitive, intense, and that there are so many events during the season. You get the opportunity to sail each weekend, and you learn so much from the team, the coach, and other sailors. There is nothing I dislike about college sailing at this point.

What are practices like?

We start practice at 4 p.m. and sail until dark. Right now, since it is our team race season, we mostly focus on team racing. We usually practice and race with Fordham during the week.  This is really great for us.  By making mistakes, having our coach give us feedback on those mistakes, and showing us how we can improve, we are put in an excellent position to learn quickly.

How do you balance school work?

Balancing school work is not too hard.  We have mandatory study hours from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. everyday, which help me stay on top of my school work and allows me to focus on sailing during the weekends.

What’s been the biggest sailing challenge? Non-sailing challenge?

I feel like the biggest sailing challenge for me is getting used to sailing with new crews, and getting used to the shifty, short course kind of sailing that you do in college.  Before college, I mostly sailed singlehanded boats on both longer courses and open water type venues.  Another challenge is getting used to all of the different college sailing venues, and how unique each one is.

My biggest non-sailing challenge is getting used to the regimented lifestyle at SUNY, and learning how to live with other people. Luckily, I have two good roommates and we get along pretty well. Another challenge is adapting to how little sleep we get.  Every morning we have get up at 6:30 a.m., and we aren't allowed to go to bed until 11 p.m. This is definitely one of the toughest things for me to get used to.  I have to take advantage of every opportunity to take a nap.

What are your goals for yourself and your team this year? Four years? 

My goal this year is just to improve and learn something new after every regatta.  I also want to get a lot stronger as a team racer.  As a team, for this year, we would like to get stronger at team racing.

One of my big goals for next year is to qualify for Singlehanded Nationals.  This year I was one spot out, which I was pretty bummed about.  I really wanted to go to California and sail the Nationals!

Over four years, I just hope to always take something away from sailing each weekend and at every practice to make me a better sailor as a whole.

Nick Valente

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