NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Earlier this week the Yale coed and women's varsity sailing teams convened in private to carry out a sacred ritual. The teams held their annual elections to determine who will serve as their team captains for the coming year. There were four very qualified candidates in the running for the women's team captain, but a majority vote has elected junior skipper Emily Billing to lead the No. 1 ranked team in the country. She will be replacing outgoing senior captain Margot Benedict.
Billing is a junior in Branford College. She is an environmental studies major and has been a member of the sailing team since the start of her freshman year.
Although she was a top-notch laser radial sailor before college, until coming to Yale Billing had never sailed either of the other boats that are most frequently raced in college—FJs and 420s. Nonetheless, she now consistently finishes in the top five at major regattas in radials, FJs and 420s. The results, as well as her coaches and teammates, vouch for her determination to improve continuously and her dedication to helping the team do just the same.
To highlight some of her results from this past fall season, Billing finished 3rd overall at the ICSA Women's Single-Handed Nationals and also contributed hugely to the team's Atlantic Coast Championship victory as the starting B-division skipper.
However, it takes more than just being good at your sport to be a good team captain. When asked what she thinks are the most important qualities of a good captain, her response was, "being approachable to all team members, organized and maintaining a good relationship with the coaches." There is certainly reason to believe that Billing embodies all three of these qualities.
Being elected captain by her peers more than suggests that other members of the team find her approachable. Prior to becoming captain, Billing served as social chair for the sailing team. Her responsibilities as social chair centered on fostering a positive off-the-water team chemistry that would enhance team performance on the water. Evidently Billing's teammates were pleased with her ability to inspire camaraderie and they see that as an important skill that their new captain brings to the table.
Billing is also no stranger to positions of leadership. This past summer she worked as the director of the Yale Corinthian Yacht Club (YCYC) summer sailing program. In that role, she not only taught sailing lessons, but had the responsibility of organizing and executing the entire 10-week operation. The reviews, from parents and Yale faculty, say that this past summer's program ran "smoother than ever." If she can successfully manage that responsibility, meeting sailing team captain expectations should be a breeze.
Yale alum and past President of the United States George W. Bush '48 once said, "a leader is someone that brings people together." As someone who has been a past social chair and a successful program manager, the Yale women's sailing team feels confident that Billing has what it takes to be that leader. The No. 1 Bulldogs are scheduled to race in their first regatta of the spring season two weeks from now.
Report filed by Chris Segerblom '14, Yale Sports Publicity