Sailor Spotlight: Dana Haig
Dana Haig is a 17 year old Senior at Southern Regional High School. Dana had a successful Opti career representing Little Egg Harbor YC at many National and International events. Since then, she's made the transition into Club 420s, i420s, and high school sailing. Dana is an incredibly hard-working, serious sailor; she's one of the first ones on the water each day and she has specific goals in mind each time she trains. What has helped her improve as a sailor? Dana makes a point to learn something from each of the myriad of sailors and crews with whom she works. You can always learn something from other people. The take away point: Never stop learning!
Name - Dana Haig
Age - 17
School - Southern Regional High School
Yacht Club - Little Egg Harbor Yacht Club
1) Dana, you are the A division sailor on the Southern Regional HS sailing team. Southern has been one of the top high school sailing teams in NJ for many years now. Tell me about the dynamics of the team and what do you think contributes to your team's success each year? Over the past few years, Southern Regional HS’s sailing team has been fortunate to be able to compete against other top schools in NJ every Wednesday. Being able to sail against so many great sailors every week has helped our team improve over the years. The Wednesday Series also allows our team to ease new sailors into racing without the pressure of having to sail an entire regatta. As with most high school teams, our team has sailors with different levels of experience. Being able to race with the newer members every week is a great learning experience for both, and allows our team to grow and improve! We have also benefited from our coach Steve Warren, who works tirelessly to enter us in regattas at different venues against other great competition.
2) Last weekend you traveled down to Virginia for the MASSA (Middle Atlantic) High School Girl's Championship. How did the regatta go? The regatta went well! I sailed with Brielle Willoughby and Bridget Green, and we finished in 3rd place out of 15 teams. Throughout the regatta, we saw a variety of conditions from light and shifty to breezy. The varying conditions allowed us to learn more about the venue as we worked to transition between these different conditions. We sailed in FJs, which we have not competed in as often as 420s. During the weekend, we worked to learn more about FJs from the other top teams, like Norfolk Collegiate and Christ Church, who placed first and second.
3) What's your plan for this summer? Will you be sailing or coaching? This summer, I will continue sailing the i420. I will sail Youth Champs in Wrightsville Beach, NC, with my crew Josh Zeelander at the end of June. Then in August, I will sail in the Women’s World Championship in Newport, RI, with my sister, Emily. Between regattas, I plan on training in Newport as much as I can to get more comfortable with the venue. Worlds will be my most important regatta this summer, and it will be a great experience to sail against the top sailors in the world. I will sail each regatta with a different crew which requires making some adjustments, but each crew I have sailed with has helped me learn different things. I look forward to great conditions, coaching, and training in Newport!
4) You've been exposed to a lot of good coaching in your career. Who has been your most influential mentor in the sailing community? What is something important that he or she has taught you? I have been fortunate to have had many great coaches over the years, and I have learned a great deal from all of them. One of the most influential coaches I have had is Skip Whyte. He has coached me in the C420 and i420 off and on for the past few years. His no-nonsense attitude, attention to technical detail, and willingness to go the extra mile to give guidance has truly improved my sailing. A few years ago when I began sailing C420s, I did not have any experience with spin reaching, and my crew and I struggled in a windy regatta. At the end of the day as all of the other sailors were sailing back to the dock, Skip stayed out with us for an extra hour of training. Because my crew was recovering from a broken hand, which was hurting by the end of the long day, we only were able to spin reach on starboard tack! Even so, the tips and knowledge Skip shared with us help me to this day. I love the technical aspects of sailing, and Skip has gone the extra mile to help me combine this with strategies and techniques to become a better sailor.
5) Next year you are attending MIT and will be sailing on their Varsity Sailing Team. Congratulations! I know your sister, Emily, is there now. Tell me about the school, why you decided to go there, and what your expectations are for college next year. After visiting many colleges, I knew MIT was the right school for me. Academically, I fell in love with MIT’s mission to solve problems and make the world a better place through innovative ideas, research, hands-on learning, and collaboration. Next year, I will also be a part of MIT’s Varsity Sailing Team. I love the dynamics of the team and I look forward to training with such talented sailors and learning from the phenomenal coaches, Matt Lindblad and Mike Kalin. During my freshman year, I hope to absorb as much information as I can from those around me as I continue to train and compete.