CofC Olympian Shifts Gears With National Titles In Mind
CofC Athletics Communications
The past two years have been a whirlwind for College of Charleston sailor Juan Maegli, and after a stop at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, he won’t be slowing down anytime soon in Charleston.
After a two-year hiatus from college sailing training for his second Olympic Games, Maegli was back in fine form capturing his third SAISA Men’s Singlehanded Championship title this past weekend amid variable conditions on Crab Bank in Charleston Harbor.
The win will now take him one step closer to a second national title in the event as he is scheduled to compete at the 2012 ICSA Men’s Singlehanded Championship hosted by USC on Nov. 2-4 in Long Beach, Calif. He was the men’s singlehanded national champion in 2009.
The conditions in southern California will likely be those Maegli says he likes best, “light air and a sea breeze.” In order to prepare for the event, he is working to get lighter, losing the weight he gained over the summer for the Olympic Games in Weymouth, England.
Maegli’s Olympic campaign no doubt prepared him for sailing Lasers for CofC this fall – an experience he said he would do all over again.
“The entire process of competing for the last two years and going to the Olympics was a very positive experience, not only with sailing, but with the people I met and the places I traveled to,” Maegli said.
When asked on his thoughts on taking time off from school to pursue Olympic aspirations, CofC Director of Sailing Greg Fisher encourages it, especially with the sailing program having such a strong tradition in the sport and producing two silver medalists.
“If someone is fortunate enough with the opportunity to go after an Olympic campaign, I would encourage it, as long as they are realistic and have it all in perspective,” he said.
This summer, Maegli represented his home country of Guatemala placing ninth in the medal rounds, while sailing a full-rig Laser. The single-handed boat has been his main focus the past two years, and he spent that duration sailing at venues all over the world in preparation for the Games.
With so much time in one boat, Maegli has spent more recent practices with the team in FJs and 420s, which are double-handed dinghies that are sailed in college racing. The transition from a single-handed boat to a two person dinghy has been a challenge for Maegli in his return to collegiate sailing.
“When I got back in the FJ, it was hard after not being in the boat for three years,” said Maegli, who hopes to participate in in his third Olympiad in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Fisher also acknowledged just how hard the shift in boats actually is, but said Maegli is sailing better each day and that, “When you have the talent that Juan has, and the desire, it just takes practice.”
Maegli spends each practice with his goals for the season, which have been set for both himself and the team, in mind.
“I want to be able to go win Laser Nationals for the College of Charleston,” he said. “Then, I just want to help the team in every way I can to win the fleet race and team race nationals, which is something I think is very doable.”
CofC Head Coach Ward Cromwell also believes those goals are attainable. Maegli returns to a squad, who last year, captured its first-ever ICSA/APS Team Race National Championship title in program history and was presented with the Leonard M. Fowle Trophy, awarded annually to the best overall collegiate team in the nation.
“Juan’s been getting better and better in practice each day,” Cromwell said. “It’s great, because he’s going to be pushing the rest of his teammates that much harder.”
Maegli is part of what he describes as a, “deep team with a lot of talent,” and says that each member pushes the other to work hard, both on-and-off the water. With that in mind, he is still known for having fun on the water, a quality Coach Cromwell said makes him a terrific part of the CofC sailing team.
“Juan knows how to have fun and that’s important, because this is very different from what he’s been doing the past two years,” he said. “He’s a really great kid to work with.”
Overall, be it on the Olympic or college stage, Maegli’s focus and enthusiasm for the sport has never changed or wavered.