David Hernandez has been president of the Sailing Canes, won a host of race trophies and mentored the next generation of UM sailors. It just so happens he can’t stand getting wet.
“Let’s play a game,” said freshman Kara Voss, president of the women’s sailing team, quoting Hernandez talking to his crew members. “The game is: don’t get David wet.”
Voss said Hernandez tries to maneuver any crew he sails with so as to block himself from water splashing into the boat.
“Needless to say,” she joked, “when you sail with David, you get wet.”
What is most striking about Hernandez’s college sailing career, however, is his awareness of what he wants his legacy to be.
“Most of all, I want the team to keep growing,” he said. “It isn’t something I want to graduate and forget about. I want my kids to be sailing at UM one day.”
As a senior, Hernandez has been an integral part of the club’s growth from about 25 members to more than 60 in just a few years. When asked how it happened, Hernandez credited the newest members of the team.
“Thank God for our freshmen,” he said. “We have been able to win a number of district regattas by sending our next generation, and that’s huge. It’s going to be great to be able to hand the reins over to a group of guys that reminds me so much of the leaders on the team.”
One such new addition is David’s sister, Laura, a freshman. A skipper in both practice and regattas for the team, Laura Hernandez hopes to mirror her brother’s commitment throughout her career.
“We would have no chance of being ranked 10th nationally or competing at the level we do without him,” she said. “He has a great personality and, despite being a senior, is never intimidating, which makes it really easy to learn from him.”
The team expects to compete in the national finals in June in Austin, Texas. The nation’s top teams from both coasts first meet in two, eighteen-school semi-finals. The top nine from each semi-final advance to the finals.
Hernandez, an environmental engineering major born and raised in Miami, has served as treasurer, president, and is currently the social chair for the sailing club. As a graduating senior, he plans to continue sailing after college.
“There’s great competition in Miami and sailing will still be a big part of my life,” Hernandez said. “I don’t think I’ll ever be able to let it go completely.”
For now, Hernandez is still focused on the task at hand.
“The goal is that decades down the line the team will still be here, and be stronger than ever,” he said. “We want it to be self-sustaining. And I’ve never been more confident about that than I am right now.”
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