Megan Kehew '01 rides the wind
By Margaret LeRoux
Megan Kehew '01 is a high-energy Holy Cross student, double majoring in political
science and economics and minoring in art history. Her weekdays are filled
with classes, projects, papers-everything one would expect in the life
of a serious young woman with the ambitious goal of a career in
Most weekends, however, Megan is on the water.
Sailing is her passion, and she's already made her mark in the world of competitive
racing. For five glorious days in September, Megan was "Puff
Baby," the youngest member of the crew who won the Rolex Women's Keelboat Championship
in Newport, R.I.
Megan's nickname refers to her responsibilities during the championship races.
She was the one who sighted the wind, hoisted the spinnaker, and when the boat
made a roll jibe-a fast, downwind turn-she'd grab hold of the twing line that
stretched across the foredeck, hang on for dear life, and hurl herself off to
the side to provide counterbalance
so the boat wouldn't lose speed.
"I'd look out and call, 'puff in 10 seconds-five, four, three, two, one, and
there had better be wind by the end of my countdown," Megan laughs as she recalls
the series of high pressure races that pitted her crew against some of the
best women sailors in the world.
Three hundred competitors all sailed identical 24-foot, single-design keelboats,
J24s, in a series of races on Narragansett Bay and the Rhode Island Sound in
mid-September. The skipper of Megan's crew was veteran sailor Pat Connerney,
who has participated in six Rolex
"I chose Megan as a crew member because of her youth, enthusiasm, her experience
in Narragansett Bay and her ability
to read the wind and current," says Connerney.
Reading the wind to a non-sailor is the almost magical
ability to predict the direction of the wind and when the sail
"I've learned to recognize how the color of the water changes, and how the shapes
of the waves change as the wind approaches," says Megan.
When it was founded in 1985, the Rolex Championship "charted new territory for
women's keelboat racing in a sailing world that associated females mainly with
dinghy competition," says event chair Denise
MacGillivray of Middletown, R.I.
"The Rolex Women's has become one of the best
gauges of talent in women's sailing," MacGillivray adds. "The competition roster
typically reads like a who's who of women's sailing and includes Rolex Yachtswomen
of the Year, Olympic medalists, and America's Cup veterans."
Just to be included among such talented sailors
was a thrill, Megan says.
"It was a phenomenal experience, meeting the
people I'd heard about and read about, not only racing with them, but actually
Sailing has been a major focus for Megan ever since she took her first lesson
at age 11. "I grew up in Newport," she
explains. "You can't get away from sailing there."
She spent part of her sophomore year in high school
aboard a 58-foot yawl, sailing from Newport to the Bahamas, one of seven students
who learned marine biology
as well as English, math and the other academic subjects during a semester
"It was just the seven of us plus the captain
and first mate," Megan notes. "We also learned a lot about ourselves out there
in the ocean."
By the end of the voyage, Megan decided that sailing
would always be a part of her life. She has spent every summer
since racing competitively off Newport.
"Newport's fleet is the most competitive fleet
in the country," she says. "There are so many phenomenal sailors to learn
After her first day of practice as a member of the Connerney
crew for the Rolex Championship, however, Megan almost
"They were all so amazing," she says. "I felt
completely out of my element."
According to Skipper Connerney, the youngest
member of the crew caught on quickly.
"On the race course Megan was steady and predictable, flawless tacking up on
the bow," she says. "She made no mistakes in hairy
Megan notes that the crew got excellent coaching from past world champion racer
Brad Read. "He was out there with us day
after day, helping us develop our tactics," she says.
"On the first day of the race we were so excited," she recalls. "We were at the
top of the pack and 30 seconds from the first mark when the race was called because
of wind. Then, in the second race of the day we were in third place when the
race was called."
Despite the disappointment of the races being canceled
and the frustration at the lack of wind, the crew was feeling pretty confident.
On the second day of
competition, the wind was brisk; they won both races wearing their foul weather
"They were perfect races," Megan says, "everything felt exactly right. The wind
shifted with us."
The first win was a close race, though; the crew came across the finish line
not knowing for sure it had won it. A gun sounds for the first boat to finish,
and it wasn't until they heard the gunshot that they realized they had come
After those wins, "I went from being happy just to compete for the experience,
to praying that we'd win the championship," Megan says.
On the second day of competition the crew ran into trouble. A block blew. This
piece of equipment holds the halyard,
the line that hoists the sail, "and it meant that the we had no way to keep the
halyard from falling down," explains Megan.
"We found an extra part on board and rigged a temporary replacement, but it prevented
us from tacking when we had our
Nevertheless, they still managed to finish fourth in
the first race of the day and fifth in the second race.
On the third day of the races the wind was blowing at
a stiff 35 knots. Once more the crew donned full foul weather
"It was hectic and crazy out there on the
water," Megan says. "We were never first around a mark, but we fought our way
through the races with smart sailing. We did everything right."
During the second race the crew continued
to use the heavy wind to their advantage.
"Some of the other crews weren't able to use
their spinnakers," Megan explains, "because the wind was just too much
Such a strong wind leaves no room for error. With waves
cresting at four and five feet, there is a very real danger of burying the bow
of the boat into the
ocean. The wind took its toll on other competitors that day; eight people were
"We were just flying downwind," Megan says, "but we kept our cool." Their
reward was another first-place finish.
The fifth and final day of races was almost
"We knew it looked good for us going into
the races," Megan notes, "and we were all a little nervous. It was another
windless day, however, and both races were canceled."
"We were out there in the Sound, waiting to
be towed in when the winner was announced-it was us! Crews from the other boats
came by and sprayed us with champagne and tossed bouquets of roses to us. As
we approached the dock, I spotted my Mom. She'd come to watch
the race and didn't realize we'd won until she saw me waving my bouquet
That night the crew was feted at an awards ceremony at Rosecliff Mansion in Newport
where the movie "The Great Gatsby" was filmed.
"What a contrast," Megan says. "We won the championship in ratty old torn clothes
and foul weather gear, and that
night we were all dressed in ball gowns."
The next day she was back to reality in political
science class at Holy Cross.
"Everybody at school was so supportive," Megan
says. "I got daily e-mails from my friends, and my professors were understanding
about the classes I had to miss."
Until next summer when she will be competing regularly
in Newport, Megan keeps her sailing skills sharp as skipper of
the Holy Cross sailing team.
"There are only five of us, but we hold our own against teams from Harvard, MIT,
the Coast Guard Academy and the Massachusetts
Maritime Academy," she says.
In the spring Megan will be doing an internship in Washington,
D.C., where she will try to squeeze in some sailing on Chesapeake
"No matter what I do, I can always find
time to race," she notes.
Besides the excitement and satisfaction of competing,
Megan has learned other important lessons from sailing.
"Sailing teaches you to stay calm and focused," she says. "If you've ever been
in a dangerous situation on the water, you've learned to forget about any thing
else except keeping the boat afloat."
Her lifetime goal is to compete someday in the Whitbread,
a race around the world sailed in 60-foot boats.
"It's a race for hard-core sailors," she explains, "there are not a lot of people
in their right mind who want to do it."
To compete in the Whitbread, a sailor needs experience,
imagination and a great deal of determination, all the qualities Megan has developed
in her sailing and
academic careers. Look for her to
be crossing that spectacular finish line someday.
Annie Lavigne controls the field
Michelle Mason '00
It takes a lot of dedication for an athlete
to receive First Team All-Patriot League and First Team All-Northeast
honors in the same season. Annie Lavigne '01 earned this
recognition during the 1999-2000 season for her contributions
to the Crusader field hockey team.
Lavigne, who is from New Hampshire, decided to attend Holy Cross after seeing
the way Coach Meg Galligan ran the field hockey program. "Meg runs the program
like a family, which is what I was used to in high school," she says. "The
girls on the team seemed so happy-I knew I would like Holy Cross."
Playing time was another factor that led her to Holy Cross. During her first
year, Lavigne started in all 21 games and earned the team's Rookie of the Year
Although Lavigne had played as center forward during high school, she became
a mid-fielder when she began playing at Holy Cross. "I wasn't as fast as the
other forwards at this level-my passing skills are more tailored to mid-field," she
explains. "But it was a big change because I had to learn to play defense!"
The switch was a good one. Lavigne, who has been named First Team-All Patriot
League twice, has totaled 50 career points on 20 goals and 10 assists, a number
that ranks her eighth on the College's all-time career scoring list. "Playing
mid-field allows me to control the field and get the most action," she says. "I
like this position because I can make assists and create opportunities for
Lavigne fought injuries for most of last season. "In June I found out that
I had stress fractures in both legs as well as tendonitis and nerve damage,
probably a result of overtraining and playing on the old turf." Despite
the pain, she played with the injuries all season, an effort that earned recognition
from her teammates and the title of captain for next season.
One of Lavigne's favorite memories from the fall was the Crusaders' 5-0 victory
over Yale in the final home game of the season. "It was a good revenge game
because we had lost to them the previous year," she says.
The team, which hopes to return to the Patriot League Tournament for its fourth
consecutive season, has made many improvements in the past few years. "The
depth of the team has improved a lot-we have a great bench-which means we can
put in any player and continue to play well," says Lavigne.
"While we are losing
four seniors (Kate Sitterly, Maquel Salley, Maura McGonagle and Michelle Fecteau),
there are many returning players, including the freshmen who worked really
hard last season."
"Field hockey has been even better than I expected it to be," she says. "I played
during my first year and the team won the Patriot League Tournament during my
first two years. It was great!"
George Maillis is at home
on the soccer field
The transition from high school to college
is often a difficult one, especially when it involves moving
far away from home.
Such was the case
for Crusader men's soccer player George Maillis '00 who came to Worcester from
the Bahamas four years ago.
Maillis grew up in a country where soccer lacks the support it enjoys in the
United States. During the college application process, he decided that he wanted
to play the sport in the United States. "My coaches told me to go to college
in the States-they thought it would
give me an avenue to continue playing," Maillis says. "And, my parents wanted
me to attend a good school-I looked at a list of the top liberal arts schools
and decided to visit Holy Cross."
The College's size appealed to him. "I wanted
to go to a school where I wouldn't be a number," he says. "I saw the family atmosphere
here and I liked it." It was more than just standard information and statistics
that convinced him, however. Explaining that he only applied to Holy Cross, Maillis
says, "I liked Coach (Elvis Comrie) and the guys
on the team . I really wanted to come here."
Despite his confidence in Holy Cross, Maillis
had doubts about his playing abilities. "I didn't think I was good enough for
the team. There is a lot more training and discipline required in the United
States," he explains. As it turns out, his doubts were unfounded. Last season
Maillis earned Second Team All-Patriot League honors for the third consecutive
season while helping the Crusaders to a 9-4-4 record and the Patriot League regular
season title. He leaves with the sixth highest point total in history, 48, with
19 career goals and 10 assists.
One of Maillis' fondest memories of the 1999 season was the Army game at West
Point under the lights. "I knew it would
be an important game," he says. "If we won, we would host the Patriot League
tournament and win the league-we really wanted to host the tournament." According
to Maillis, that game was the culmination of four years. "I knew it would be
the last time we would play Army," he says, "and they were one of our rivals.
It was always a good game." The result was a 4-1 victory for Holy Cross; Maillis
scored the Crusaders' first goal, tying the score. During the Patriot League
Tournament, the Crusaders were upset in the first round by Lafayette in double
According to Maillis, his best memories of Holy Cross come from his experience
as a member of the soccer team. "I made great friendships and had the opportunity
to travel," he says. "We went to Napa Valley, Calif., Florida and other places
I really enjoyed."
After graduation, Maillis is planning to return
home to the Bahamas. "I miss the warm weather," he says with a laugh. Even though
he is leaving Holy Cross, he knows his interest in soccer will continue, either
as a player or as a coach at the high school level. Maillis says, "I definitely
will be involved with soccer for a long time."