BRISTOL, R. I. — It's the beginning of the 2016-17 season for the Roger Williams University Sailing team, and joining the Hawks for the campaign is freshman Maia Agerup from Oslo, Norway. Agerup is no stranger to high-level competition, having just recently competed last month in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
Agerup, along with her sister Ragna, represented Norway at the Olympics and competed in the Women’s 49er FX (skiff). The two would ultimately sail to 14th place overall among the field. She became the second sailor from the Roger Williams University Sailing program to compete in the Olympic Games, joining alum Cy Thompson ’11, who participated in the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games.
Prior to her performance at the Olympics, Agerup earned her way onto the Olympic roster with her work on the water in other international competition earlier in the year. This past winter, she placed fourth at the Sailing World Cup in Miami and fifth at the Sailing World Cup in Great Britain. Then in June, Agerup took 22nd at the 49er & 49erFX World Championship in Clearwater, Florida.
Though Agerup is used to international competition, she still noted that competing at the Olympics was an amazing experience, as well as a significant accomplishment for her.
“Being an athlete at the Olympics was a fantastic experience. Everything is so well prepared so that you can focus on your performance," Agerup said. "The support team we had from our Sailing Federation and Olympic Committee was amazing and just being around other athletes and getting to know them was very inspiring and rewarding.”
This fall, Agerup looks to turn her attention to intercollegiate sailing. Head Coach Amanda Callahan recognizes that there will be somewhat of a learning curve for her, but is excited for the prospect of having Agerup on the team for the upcoming season.
“Maia has been sailing at a high level internationally for years — and that experience will definitely add to our team," Callahan said. "The 49erFX skiff is a lot different than the boats we race in college sailing (mostly Flying Juniors aka FJs and 420s), so the transition will be really interesting.”
Agerup also acknowledges that it will be upon her to manage the adjustment to intercollegiate sailing. However, she is looking forward to the challenge that it presents, as well as the opportunity it will present for her to become a better sailor.
“I think to develop as a sailor, one needs to try out different forms of sailing and be challenged in different ways on the water," Agerup said. "Intercollegiate sailing provides an opportunity to sail competitively in fleet racing, match racing, team racing, and in different types of boats. We compete against boys and girls for the spots on the teams and against each other in the regatta. So far I have had really fun during practice and I look forward to be racing on the water. Competing internationally in an Olympic boat class is about competing against the same 30-40 teams in the same boat year after year, working on small details of improvement and being 100% focused as an athlete. It is very tiring and over time it is easy to lose track of other things in life beside sailing, including taking an education.
“I guess the biggest transition will be to be a part of a team and to contribute the best I can where the team and the coach wants me to contribute," she added. "Being a full-time athlete is a very self oriented activity; sailing on a College Sailing team is the opposite.”
The season begins on Saturday, most notably with the Hawks hosting the Mount Hope Bay Invitational on Saturday and Sunday.