When Ciara Rodriguez-Horan, who’s studying environmental studies and computer science, was recruited to join the Green Wave sailing team in its inaugural year, she knew she’d be taking a chance by saying yes. On the other hand, she felt that Tulane was the right place at the right time.
The Miami native did say yes, and four years later, she calls it one of the best decisions of her life.
“Honestly, it did not take a lot of convincing,” said Rodriguez-Horan, the team captain. “I knew what the school had to offer, saw the potential the team had for success, and I was locked-in, ready to go.”
Coach Charles Higgins, who took the helm of Tulane sailing after 10 years as an assistant coach at Old Dominion, could not have been happier. He said Rodriguez-Horan and the other students who signed on to the team in 2018 set the tone for the team’s early and continued success.
“That first year was a bit of an unknown, as far as who was going to come,” Higgins said. “We were selling a dream.”
Sailing had been a club sport at Tulane for many years. But in 2017, after careful consideration of facility availability, established interest and potential for competitive success, combined with support from Elizabeth “Libby” Connolly Alexander (NC ’84) and Robert Alexander as well as a solid partnership with Community Sailing New Orleans, Tulane Athletics made sailing its newest fully funded varsity sport. The program includes women’s and coed teams.
Among the team’s many successes was claiming the 2022 ICSA (Intercollegiate Sailing Association) Open Dinghy National Championship, beating the Yale Bulldogs by one point. Last year, the women’s team finished as the national runner-up at ICSA Women’s Championship Regatta.
“Very few, if any, thought we were even in the hunt,” Higgins said. “We proved that we were more than underdogs.”
Rodriguez-Horan attributes the team’s success to the closeness of its members.
“This team is a family, and we push each other on and off the water. I couldn’t have asked for a better four years, a better coach or better teammates.”