May 21, 2009
Stanford sailing coach John Vandemoer is nearing the conclusion of his first year at Stanford. The season will conclude with the Cardinal hosting the national championships, beginning Monday, May 27, at the St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco. Vandemoer has led Stanford to four of the six PCCSC titles this spring and currently has his women's team ranked No. 12 in the nation, while the coed team is No. 14. Vandemoer took a few moments to sit down with gostanford.com and discuss the season, the upcoming nationals and his aspirations for Stanford sailing.
What drew you to Stanford sailing?
Stanford has always been a University that I have admired for a long time, both for its athletics and certainly for its academics. It is probably the best athletic department in the country, both in terms of facilities and what it can do to support the individual athlete. That definitely drew me to Stanford, that and being out here in California, which is a great place for sailing with the nice breeze every day and the fantastic facilities. The support that Stanford has given specifically to the sailing team has been fantastic.
How has your first year gone?
The first year has been great. We have made some huge strides with a very young team with the majority being freshmen and sophomores. It has been a brand new learning experience for both me and the team. We have been trying to get our young sailors to some of the top regattas in the country. Having freshmen start a major intersectional is a rare thing in college sailing and it is great that we are able to provide that. The year has been great. I think we have proven ourselves as a top-10 team in the country. We have done extremely well in our own conference, winning four of the six conference championships. We have established ourselves as the number one team out west. It is really showing at the coed nationals where we are the only team from west of the East Coast to qualify. We are representing the rest of the country in that way so it is nice to be able to do that.
What are your goals/expectations for the upcoming national events?
Our simple goal going into the national championships is to be competitive going into that very last race. We want to be in the hunt at the very end. There will be a lot of variables at the end that we can't control, but we just want to give ourselves a chance by being in it at the very end. For the women's, that is going to mean really staying in the hunt points wise, staying in single digits for all of our scores and being close going into the last set. For team racing the goal is to make it to the final four and have a chance at the national championship in the last few races. For coed, it is again to keep our scores in the single digits, be conservative and give ourselves a chance at the national championships going into the last set. Those are the things that we are really working hard on to be competitive and be in the hunt in every race and every set.
How do hosting the events benefit the team?
It depends on where you are hosting from place to place, but for us specifically, I think it gives us an advantage. Knowing the current in the San Francisco Bay is going to be huge. Knowing when to go into the current and when to go out of it and where the relief is will be big. We will have that knowledge and we will be prepared for it. The other teams won't have as much as experience, especially since we are the only team that has made it to the coed finals. Team racing is being hosted by Cal, but we have certainly sailed there a lot. We have sailed there more than any other team that will be there, except for maybe UC Irvine who also qualified, but that should give us a big leg up.
In what ways are you looking to grow/improve the program in the coming years?
I think one thing that I really want to continue is to get our young players to the top regattas in the country every weekend so they can get that exposure. Then, the big thing for us is taking that exposure back to practice every day. That will only make us stronger. My biggest goal is to make practice harder than most of the intersectionals that we sail. I think we can really achieve that through recruiting and through experience and coaching in the next five years of really growing our practice. That is the biggest goal we have and certainly having a more competitive practice will help us significantly in our results and competing for the national championship. I think we really want to be in a place where we can be competitive every year to compete for the national championships. That doesn't mean we will win it every year, but we at least want to be in that position to have the opportunity to win it.