In the 2010-’11 sailing season, Cam Cullman ’13 was named the Men’s New England Singlehanded Champion. He was also a member of both the All New England Skippers Second Team and the second-place team at New England Team Race Championships. Cullman has sailed at the Freshman Atlantic Coast Championships, and was the youngest ever U.S. Junior Singlehanded National Champion in high school.
The News sat down with the sailing star to ask about his experiences heading the Yale team, his collegee experience and the dynamics of the team.
Q The team has moved up to the number one spot nationally this season. What is your most memorable race this year so far and why?
A My most memorable race this year was actually this past weekend, when the team participated in the Boston Dinghy Cup. This race was the first time I sailed in the A division. Genoa Warner ’13 crewed for me, and we were able to get second, even against schools like Harvard, Dartmouth and Brown, among the 18 schools that participated. It was an amazing feeling to compete in a higher division and still find such success.
Q How has the sailing team changed or evolved since your freshman year?
A The sailing team hasn’t changed very much. We’ve had the same coaches, but as people graduate, the feeling of the team does change. For example, Thomas Barrows ’10, who served as captain for two years, was a great leader and had a big influence on team in a positive way. It was hard when he left, but we’ve had other amazing sailors come in. Our team philosophy is still the same: There is always more work to do, and we always work hard to improve.
Q What makes an ideal sailor in your mind?
A An ideal sailor is someone who is really enthusiastic, loves going out on the water every day and is competitive at a really high level. Those are the people who learn the most in college sailing and who become the best crews and skippers. Just giving it your all every day is so important.
Q What are the benefits of being on the Yale sailing team, as opposed to other schools’ sailing teams?
A Our biggest benefit is probably that we have the best coach in college sailing right now, Zach Leonard. He is very technical and knows a ton about fleet and team racing. We are also very lucky to have Bill Healy coaching. The combination of these coaches, and an amazing alumni base that help us out quite often, is a very unique, positive situation to be in. Alumnae such as Zach Brown ’08 and Thomas Barrows, some of the best team racers in the world, come back to push us to improve.
Q What is the most difficult aspect of competitive sailing?
A The most difficult aspect of competitive sailing in college is definitely managing your time. We race all day Saturday and Sunday, and four or more hours every day except Monday. Therefore, the team doesn’t have weekends to do schoolwork. However, if you manage your time well, you definitely can do it.
Q What is typical sailing practice like?
A This definitely depends on the day and what we’re working toward. In the spring, we are working more on team racing. The best way to practice team racing is to actually team race, so we will do three-on-three and run a bunch of practice races. We try to incorporate a lot of boat handling and boat-on-boat maneuvering. We also work on tactics and practice starts quite a bit.
Q What is your favorite destination you’ve sailed in and why?
A My favorite destinations are probably Corpus Christi in Texas and the Virgin Islands. Both places are really warm, and the wind just howls. It is always really fun to be able to get going very fast.
Q What other pursuits have shaped your Yale experience aside from sailing?
A I have really enjoyed being part of Jonathan Edwards, and getting to know tons of people through the college. I played some intramural sports at the beginning of college, and that was a fun way to get to know other kids on campus. There are the most amazing people at Yale, and I’ll take any excuse I can to meet a whole bunch of Yalies.
Q If you had to convince a student athlete to come to Yale over other top-flight schools, what would you say?
A Yale is one of very few schools where you can get a world-class education and compete internationally and nationally at a top-flight level. You can not only do both of these things, but the atmosphere at Yale allows you to actually thrive while doing so.
Q What role will sailing play in your life after Yale?
A I am definitely still deciding. Part of me is debating embarking on an Olympic campaign, but the other part of me is hoping to apply to medical school. Right now I am leaning toward medical school, but I am still very open. I’m going to see where sailing over the next year takes me and decide from there.