NAME: Eric Anderson
HOMETOWN: Mountain View, California
OCCUPATION/EMPLOYER: Software Engineer for Google
CURRENT SAILING PARTNER: I sail with everyone! Out west, I’m mostly sailing with Bruce Edwards and Parker Shinn, although I've also made some guest appearances with JB and Mike Martin. Chris Segerblom and I are sailing the major events together this year – Midwinters, North Americans and, of course, the upcoming Worlds.
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS ATTENDED: My first worlds was last year in Weymouth. Macy Nelson and I finished 36th.
TOP FINISHES AT WORLDS: 36th
OTHER NOTABLE CAREER RESULTS: Chris and I just finished eighth North Americans this year, winning the last day with a 3-1. Parker and I finished fourth two weeks ago at the Pacific Coast Champioinships. I won a couple smaller regattas in college, but I’m pretty big for those boats. I’m now sailing Finns and just got sixth at Nationals.
FAVORITE SAILING MOMENT: All of it. Dealing with hail during spring college sailing in New England and a gnarly cold front in this year’s Chicago-Mac were admittedly slightly less fun than the rest of it. But still, I love all of it.
QUESTION-AND- ANSWER SEGMENT
Q: You could have chosen any class to continue competing in post-college and decided on the 505. What led you to determine the 505 was the dinghy you wanted to focus on?
A: I was always too big for college boats. My college coach pointed me toward the 505 early on so I’ve had a couple years to figure out the ropes. I love the technical aspects of the boat, and it’s great to sail with other guys (something you almost never do in college). The class was incredibly welcoming to me, and I’m still thankful to the first skippers I sailed with for putting up with me before I knew what was going on.
Q: Talk about your experiences as a member of the Yale co-ed dinghy team. How did collegiate sailing prepare you for competing in the 505 class, if at all?
A: Oh man. The Yale team taught me everything. Our coaches, Zack Leonard and Bill Healy, gave me tons of support and coaching despite my coming onto the team short on dinghy experience. I owe all my success to them. We won eight national championships while I was there, which gives you a sense of how competitive the practices were. There’s nothing that improves your sailing game like practicing against the best kids in the nation every day and then exchanging notes on the bus ride back to campus.
Some of college sailing translates well to 505s. I think my strengths in college – boathandling, boat-on-boat tactics, course strategy, and starting – carry over well. Learning the tuning and equipment game took a little while, but it’s something I’m naturally disposed to pick up pretty quickly (I’m a mechanical engineer in addition to the software stuff). Switching to a crew position was definitely the biggest transition for me, but I think I’m a better crew for all my driving experience.
Q: You crewed for Macy Nelson for a few years. Macy is one of the most experienced and most respected skippers in class history. What did you learn from an “old salt” like Macy about the 505 in particular, the class in general and post-collegiate dinghy racing overall?
A: Macy has been so good to me. He taught me tons about tuning, boat maintenance, gear, and - most importantly- 5o5 lore. He also invested in me before I was 100% in the boat- we definitely spent a bit of time swimming at the outset. I sailed my first worlds with Macy. He showed me how to put together a season, taught me how to ship boats across the country and across the Atlantic, and was always the shining example of energy and enthusiasm, despite having sailed these boats longer than I've been alive.
Q: You are now teamed up with Chris Segerblom, who lives on the East Coast. How often do you and Chris get together to train? If there has been minimal practice time of late, how does that affect preparation for the upcoming world championship?
A: I’m not worried at all about our team. Chris is a fantastic sailor, and our shared dinghy experience at Yale means we’re on the same page about most things in the boat and on the race course. Chris has been tuning against Macy out east, and I’ve been sailing a ton out west. We have couple days of practice and pre-worlds to dial everything in. We’ll be ready to go.
Q: You are a relatively big sailor. Do you feel you are the ideal size to serve as a 505 crew? Is there another two-person dinghy that would also fit you well?
A: Adam Lowry has two inches on me, but other than that I’m pretty much the ideal size. I’m 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds (going light for Annapolis), so there aren’t that many other double-handed options for me. I sail Finns and am learning a ton from that (it’s also great to get the tiller back!), and I'm looking at some faster classes – maybe Moths, 18s, or foilboards – to round out my training. As any 505 crew will tell you, being a giant makes sailing a bit difficult, especially if you don’t want to spend your days hunched over a pedestal.
Q: Talk a bit about your sailing background in terms of where you grew up, what yacht club junior program you came through and what led you to pursue the sport beyond high school.
A: I got into the sport a bit later than most, I think. I never did Opti's (not that I would have fit!) and only really started racing in high school after taking a learn-to-sail summer camp a few years earlier. My high school was too small to have a team, so I tagged along with other local schools for practice and was ineligible for most regattas. I was too big for Lasers even then, although I still took our family van all over the midwest sailing any Laser event I could. I built up a fair bit of offshore experience during that time as well as I’ve done five Mac races and a Bermuda race. Yale was the first real program I got to be a part of, which is one of the reasons I’m so grateful to my coaches and teammates there. I’ve always been incredibly driven to sail at the top level, maybe in part because it wasn’t a given for me. But being too big or not having a high school team weren’t really factors in my world. And the thought never crossed my mind to stop sailing after high school or college because I haven’t attained mastery yet.
Q: Have you considered moving from the crew to skipper position someday down the road?
A: Probably not for 505s. I’ve sailed heavy long enough to know that it sucks. But I do consider myself a driver, seeing as all my other sailing, past and present, has been as a skipper. 505s are the exception.
Q: What are some of your goals for the future with regard to your sailing career?
A: 1) Catch up to Martin. 2) Pass Martin. I have some other goals, too. I’d like to partner with someone in 505s for a longer bit of time (maybe two or three years) and put together a really serious worlds bid. The Finn stuff is taking more and more of my time, too. My coach, Zack Leonard, used to tell me to “focus on getting better as fast as you can, and the rest will follow.” So for now I’m spending four to five days a week on the water, that or more in the gym, and just putting my head down and pushing hard. We’ll see what happens.