Wellesley Townsman Athletes of the Week: Michael Haidar and Bennett Capozzi

Admin Deland Gibson Leave a Comment

Posted Jun. 20, 2013

Knowing the opponent is key to succeeding in any sport.

But in a sport like sailing, knowing your teammate is even more important.

It’s that camaraderie that makes Wellesley High seniors Michael Haidar and Bennett Capozzi stand out above the rest.

Haidar and Capozzi, both four-year members of Wellesley High’s co-ed sailing team, have been sailing with each other for years after both attended Hardy Elementary School, and their time together on the water has only strengthened their relationship.

“Sailing has definitely brought us closer as it’s something we really bonded over outside of school,” said Haidar. “After sailing together for four high school seasons and many summer seasons, it’s going to be weird not to be sailing together next year.”

In their final season together, Haidar and Capozzi helped lead Wellesley’s sailing team to a 12-3 record and a division championship in the Mass Bay League. Wellesley also earned a spot in the qualifying race for the national championship.

“Not only are they great sailors, but also team leaders and coaches for our underclassmen,” said Wellesley sailing coach Larry Lovett. “Michael and Bennett have sailed together for a long time, and as such, each has a profound understanding of what the other is doing. Also they have a deep knowledge of sailing and team racing and are incredibly skilled at both.”

While sailing might provoke thoughts of relaxation for some, tensions often run high during races. Each team has three boats for every race, and teams are scored based on where each finishes. One might think that the key to success in sailing is speed alone, but that isn’t the case.

“Boats have to communicate constantly and call plays to get all of the boats into good positions,” Lovett said. “For example, if you have a boat in the lead but your other two are behind the opponents, the lead boat tries to block the opponents and get her [or] his teammates around to better positions.”

Despite the tense nature of competitive sailing, maintaining the right mindset and staying calm under pressure is crucial to succeeding.

“Being cool-headed is really important as well as being ready to adjust everything at the slightest change in wind speed or direction,” said Capozzi.

“During a team race, every moment is filled with mental calculation,” Haidar said. “Am I going faster than that boat? Which way is the wind shifting? Is it going to stay that way? What place are my teammates in? …There is a basic plan for each situation, and each boat on the team has to take initiative in order to execute. Often the races come down to a matter of inches.”

With the sport requiring very precise moves, it’s easy to overanalyze things at times, but that’s something good sailors try to avoid.

This was reposted with the permission of The Wellesley Townsman.

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