Katrina Williams Feature in Bermuda Sun
Jan. 24, 2010
Katrina Williams could be the next great female sailor out of Bermuda. The bubbly college student already has a leg up on the competition by working with former world number one female match racing sailor Paula Lewin Crews.
Crews believes Williams has the raw talent, work ethic and the commitment to go far in the sport. "She has a great balance, competiveness and team spirit. She's a real asset."
Williams does have Olympic dreams, but she's going to concentrate on her studies for now before mounting a 2016 campaign for Rio de Janeiro.
She was second in the qualifiers for Old Dominion University at collegiate nationals and seventh at nationals.
Here she talks with Don Burgess about her year and the love of her sport.
How does it feel to be selected the Bermuda Sun Female Sports Personality of the Year?
It feels really good. There were a lot of other girls who were really had good years too. They've been working really hard and doing well at their sports too. There was tough competition. I felt so excited when I won.
How did you get into sailing?
When I was 11, which was a little late. I was doing gymnastics before that, but I got too big and my joints started hurting so I switched over to sailing and swimming.
What type of boats did you start with?
I started sailing in Optis. It's normally the boat you start with if you're a beginner and learning how to sail. I moved into Lasers.
Who was your inspiration to get into sailing?
D'arcy Hilgenberg was my first optis teacher. She wanted to get girls into sailing and she pushed us really hard to do the best we could do. My brother (Gareth) was a big deal for me. I wanted to beat him at some sport. He was already sailing so that was also an incentive.
What's great about being out on a boat?
Being out on the water is totally different then being out on land running. I'm totally in a different world. I can focus on things that I need to on the water because I don't have anything to distract me. I can forget those other things when I'm out on the water. It's really awesome to be able to do that.
What are your major achievements in sailing?
In college sailing, I was happy we came third at nationals. I was third at nationals in my sophomore year. The girls who sail at college are tough because they have a lot of experience and i'ts awesome to come from Bermuda where they don't have high school sailing and compete against girls who did compete for their high schools.
What's college sailing like?
It's really tough to go out and compete every weekend because there's pressure to do well in school and there's also social pressures. I've had to put that aside and sail the best I can. There were times my sophomore year, my lung collapsed, which made it even tougher.
How many hours a week to you put into training?
The NCAA athletics, you can only be coached 20 hours per week. So we're coached for 20 hours a week, but we sail all weekend long. It's like from 9:30am to six on Saturdays and 10am to four on Sundays. We still have to get our school work done. Our van rides to the competitions on the weekend can be quite long so we have time then to get our schoolwork done. Sometimes the rides can be eight hours.
What goals have you set for yourself this year?
It would be awesome to win a national championship for ODU this year. The national championships are at the end of May in Wisconsin and that's my main goal.
Paula Lewin Crews is one of Bermuda's greatest female sailors. How has she been a help to you?
I actually sail with Paula now. I've looked up to her since the time I started sailing Optis. She's done so well; She's been to the Olympics. Now it's been great that I've had the opportunity to sail with her and learn from her and all the experience she already has.
What was it like sailing with her at Kiel Week in Germany?
It was a lot of fun. It was a new boat so it was kind of different for me rather than sailing by myself. We did really well in finishing eighth and she's more of a match race specialist so I learned a lot about match racing where I'm more of a fleet racing sailor. I learned quite a bit about boat tactics. Peta, her twin sister, worked really hard with me to get me up to speed on bigger boats and crewing.
Is that something you want to do more of in the future?
Defintely, as I haven't done much training with them as I've been away at school, but hopefully I'll be able to continue to do match racing with her because it's a bigger class boat.
As much as Paula, is helping you, what are you giving back to the sport?
It's really cool that some of the younger sailors come up to me to see what I'm doing and I can help them overcome some of the things I had to deal with. When I was growing up I was one of the few girls racing competitively. I want to help them be competitive with the boys. I coached last summer and there were more girls than guys in my class so it was really fun being able to help them out. When girls get to a certain age they stop doing sports and its really hard to push them to do sports rather than hang out with their friends or other things.
What are your ultimate goals for the Laser?
I was planning on trying for the Olympics in 2012, but I'm putting that aside for now to concentrate on grad school. Hopefully, for 2016, I'll be working really hard and getting back into Lasers.
What are you studying in University and what do you hope to do with it?
I'm a sports management major with a marketing minor. In grad school I want to do sports psychology because Bermuda is lacking in this area. I think that could help a lot of other athletes out in the future.
Which grad schools are you looking at attending?
I'm looking at some of the bigger sporting schools like the University of Texas and the University of Southern California and Miami - big schools like that because they have the developed a reputation for doing well in sports.