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Quantum Women's College Sailor of the Year - Where Are They Now?

The Quantum Women’s College Sailor of the Year award annually honors an individual who has performed at the highest level of competition in collegiate district and national championships. The ICSA All-America committee evaluates with great detail all of the finalists’ results and calculates the winner. Quantum believes that women sailors should receive the same recognition that male sailors receive in the sport to acknowledge women's excellence in sailing and continue to foster its growth. Past award recipients have gone on to win Olympic medals, coach national and collegiate teams, and sail competitively, as well as start families and businesses and create successful careers. We caught up with some past Quantum Women’s College Sailor of the Year award winners to find out: where are they now?

Photo by Allison Chenard

Anna (Tunnicliffe) Tobias — 2005 Winner, Old Dominion University, Skipper

What did receiving the award mean to you at the time?
The award was the icing on the cake of my college career. I narrowly missed out my junior year — I was devastated, but it taught me a lot about my sailing and made me a more mature sailor my senior year. Winning the award my senior year felt like a reward for being a better all around sailor. Plus, I had amazing crews...it definitely was not a solo job or award.

What are you up to now?
I currently coach the US ILCA 6 squad and also own a CrossFit gym in Pittsburgh, PA.

What sailing are you doing, and are you still racing?
My last sailing event was the 2020 Olympic Trials in the 49erFX, but I am spending a lot of time with the ILCA 6 girls and loving it!

How has collegiate sailing influenced your path/course forward?
I learned a significant amount about myself, sailing, and how to be a "full time" athlete while in college. I double majored and minored and my minor was in music performance — which required a fair amount of practice — and had a part time job. From the second semester of my sophomore year through the end of my senior year, I sailed just about every weekend we were in season. I was busy in college, so learning how to allocate my time and be disciplined was very important, and needed. Additionally, the amount of reps that we got in was awesome to be able to learn how to execute moves, rules, situations, etc. To me, the experience paved the way to my Olympic path.

What is your advice to young sailors?
Number one, it has to be fun! Number two, fight for every point in every race. You never know when you will need that one point.

What do you miss most about college sailing?
I miss the camaraderie. I made some great life-long friends in sailing. I also miss the massive amounts of sailing that we got to do!

Annie Haeger — 2011 Winner, Boston College, Skipper

What did receiving the award mean to you at the time?
At the time, the award propelled my confidence and gave me the guts to pursue an Olympic campaign!

What are you up to now?
Currently, I am working in Sports Marketing in Vancouver, BC. I am working with Hockey Canada, a youth mountain bike company and a major grocery store chain in Canada who sponsors Olympic athletes. 

What sailing are you doing, and are you still racing?
Yes, I am still racing. I just finished sailing the Le Voiles regatta in St. Barthelemy and continue to race c scows locally in Wisconsin and waszp and A-Cat sailing. I am focused on sailing for fun right now and am looking to find the love for the sport now! 

How has collegiate sailing influenced your path/course forward?
Collegiate sailing taught me how to become a champion and an athlete. I matured a lot during my time in college sailing, and it allowed me to achieve success both on and off the water after I graduated. 

What do you miss most about college sailing?
I would say I miss the camaraderie of being with a wider team, and the access to resources from a learning perspective. 

What is your advice for young sailors? 
First bit of advice is always make sure you don't forget why you fell in love with the sport in the first place! And the second bit of advice is to find a boat that fits both your skillset and your body type. 

Nikole Barnes — 2016 Winner, U.S. Coast Guard Academy, Skipper

What did receiving the award mean to you at the time?
It meant a lot because I saw it as more of a team award; I was the one who received it, but it felt great because we all accomplished it together. And, it felt like we had reached our highest potential. 

What are you up to now?
I am a Lieutenant in the US Coast Guard as a Search and Rescue Controller in Miami, Florida.

What sailing are you doing, and are you still racing?
I am competing in the 470, and I am pursuing the Olympics. 

How has collegiate sailing influenced your path/course forward?
I am still connected to so many sailors from the US. I am from the US Virgin Islands and came into the US circuit, so I was able to meet so many new people who became teammates. I still see them, here in Miami and across the world. It created strong bonds, regardless of the school we went to. I also definitely sharpened my starting skills and my tactics in college —  it creates an incredibly aggressive and intense environment, which is on par with Olympic training. 

What is your advice to young sailors?
Don’t worry about buying the newest equipment, and whatever equipment you do have, take care of it, because how you take care of your boat and equipment says a lot about who you are and how you are on the racecourse. Enjoy the process; race hard but don’t forget to smile at the end of the day. It’s supposed to be fun! We’re sailing in the most incredible places in the world, even if it is the Charles with 30 knots of wind and it’s freezing cold.

What do you miss most about college sailing?
I miss the close knit fleet. We’re competitors on the water, but having such a close bond with the team as well as with sailors at other schools — that's what I miss the most. We had so many regattas, and there was so much racing. It was really cool to have so many opportunities to sail. 

Photo by Sailing Energy

Erika Reineke — 2017 Winner, Boston College, Skipper

What did receiving the award mean to you at the time? 
I remember hearing about the award before I ever set foot in the college sailing scene. To me, it was something that many female sailors who I had looked up to achieved, and I was inspired to be just like them. I was a runner-up for the award three years in a row and finally earning it my senior year felt like a dream come true. 

What are you up to now? 
After 11 years of Olympic campaigning in the Laser Radial, I was hungry for something new in the sport. I transitioned over to the 49erFX and have teamed-up with Lucy Wilmot (Harvard '20) for the 2024 Paris Olympics. 

What sailing are you doing, and are you still racing? 
An Olympic medal has been on my mind since I was a little girl so training and excelling in the 49erFX is my main project. However, even when we have breaks between training camps, I cannot stay away from the water or off boats. I often hop in for different pro-sailing events, I am constantly playing with my Moth, and the Laser Radial still has a soft spot in my heart because of all the years I put into the boat, so I frequently jump in and sail with the team I coach.

How has collegiate sailing influenced your path/course forward? 
Sailing six days a week for years was a gift. Hours of training on the water after class, pushing myself in the gym, and competing against some of the top sailors in the country for your age group every weekend is something very special in our sport. Balancing school, college sailing, and Olympic sailing made me become addicted to efficiency. It was the only way I could do and learn everything. Currently, I strive to maximize every moment I'm on a boat or around other incredible sailors. Besides travel days, I cannot remember a single day that I haven't been on the water.

What do you miss most about college sailing? 
I miss team racing a lot. College sailing has some of the best team racers in the sport. Working together on the water like cogs in a clock was exhilarating.

What is your advice for young sailors? 
Oftentimes all the training, competing, and travel create an overwhelming schedule to keep up with. I remember becoming anxious and feeling like I had to do it all to have a shot at being the best. Once I realized that not even superwoman could take on all the things I was trying to achieve, that is when I recognized 'more isn't better.' So my advice for young sailors is to become addicted to efficiency. 

Photo by Rob Migliaccio

Michelle Lahrkamp — 2020 Winner, Stanford University, Crew

What did receiving the award mean to you at the time?
I received the Quantum Women’s Sailor of the Year in June 2020, which was when the pandemic just started. It was the end of my freshman year and receiving the award allowed our team to stay connected and proud of all the work we put in before the pandemic which cut our great season short. Being the first freshman and Stanford women’s sailor to receive the award was an honor and it hopefully allowed other young women sailors to be reminded that work ethic is worth more than other factors like age and experience sailing: nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it.

Looking back at the Summer of 2020, Stanford Sailing was cut as a Varsity Sport by Stanford Athletics in July 2020, a month after I received Quantum Women’s Sailor of the Year. The recognition of Jack Parkin, my teammate, receiving Coed Sailor of the Year and I receiving the Women’s Sailor of the Year, united the Stanford alumni and allowed us to use our accolades to promote Stanford Sailing as a competitive and accomplished team at Stanford. I was an active member in using the media as a platform to actively fight to get the 11 cut sports reinstated throughout 2020 and 2021. In Spring of 2021, we were reinstated with the other 11 teams and we are now a Varsity sport again.

What are you up to now?
I’m a junior at Stanford University majoring in Management in Science and Engineering and minoring in Spanish. I’m the co-captain of the Stanford Sailing team and have been working as an undergraduate coordinator of TIDE (Task Force in Inclusion, Diversity, Equity in ICSA).  I’m skippering in both coed and women’s events for Stanford Sailing.

What sailing are you doing, and are you still racing?
I’m still racing in the college circuit and absolutely love it!

How has collegiate sailing influenced your path/course forward?
College sailing has been one of the best sailing experiences since you get the opportunity to travel to events and see so many sailors you grew up sailing with that are now also in college. Being at Stanford has been an absolute treat, as I’m able to study and live in California in the winter and during the week, and travel to amazing places on the weekend. Traveling with the Stanford Sailing team is so fun and we get to compete together on the east and west coast. Collegiate sailing has recently promoted Women’s Team Race which has been one of my favorite regattas yet and it was an honor to be able to compete and podium at the first annual Women’s Team Racing Nationals held at Brown [in April 2022]. College sailing really promotes women’s sailing and challenges athletes to be well-rounded student-athletes that can balance school with travel. Being a student-athlete at Stanford is tough, but it has challenged me to prioritize, manage, and work hard on the water and in the classroom. I’ve grown as a person, athlete, and leader thanks to college sailing and the experiences it has given me.

What is your advice for young sailors?
Remember to have fun and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. One can get wrapped up in results and just remember that you will have good and bad races. The things you will remember are the memories on the water with your teammates and not the one bad race you had. College sailing is competitive but also super fun to see your friends on the water and off the water. These are some of the most fun races you’ll ever sail so just remember to enjoy sailing for what it is.

Paris Henken — 2021 Winner, College of Charleston, Skipper

What did receiving the award mean to you at the time?
I was super excited and happy, I’d been a part of college sailing since 2014 so it felt like a long time coming. It was awesome to end my year with such a prestigious award. It was something I had really wanted to achieve. 

What are you up to now?
[After winning] I still had one more year left of undergrad, so I coached for the College of Charleston as a “helper,” since I didn’t have any eligibility to compete. I graduated on May 7th, 2022 with a B.S. in exercise science with a minor in biology. I also became an EMT, and have been doing one shift a week for Charleston. 

What sailing are you doing, and are you still racing?
Unfortunately, I haven’t been sailing because I’ve been so busy with school; I’ve been asked to do a bunch of regattas in various boats but I haven’t been able to say yes yet. But, moving forward, from June to September of this year, I’ll be coaching in the [US] Olympic Development Program, working with 29er sailors who want to move into Olympic class boats and helping them transition into the 49erFX. 

How has collegiate sailing influenced your path/course forward?
I’ve definitely had a very interesting path because I did Olympic sailing and then came back to college sailing. I’ve already done so much sailing outside of college sailing, but I loved it, and it was a great opportunity to sail as much as you can, with practicing three times a week and regattas on the weekends. You’re faced with so much competition all the time, and I loved it. 

What is your advice for young sailors?
It can get overwhelming to begin with as a freshman — it's a rigorous schedule between class and sailing and being gone most weekends, but if you commit your time to the sport you’ll find a routine and it will get easier, and you’ll learn so much about the sport and yourself. 

What do you miss most about college sailing?
I miss the team dynamic, and being part of a huge team. I love the team dynamic and also being able to go out and sail super close to where I live. I’m also a pretty competitive person so I miss traveling every weekend to all of these regattas. But, I am really excited for the new generation of sailors who get to do what I did. 

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