Jill Francis of Warren races through URI
KINGSTON, R.I. -- January 21, 1999
-- URI student Jill Francis sure knows her halyards from her hulls and her
jibs from her jives.
As captain of the URI sailing team for the past two and a half years,
the 21-year-old marine affairs major set the course for the team,s impressive
third-place finish in the keelboat Student Yachting World Cup, off the coast
of La Trinite Sur Mer, France this past fall. That was after the team took
top prize in the national competition.
It,s not surprising, then, that the Francis name will become part of
the team,s illustrious history. It will be engraved on a plaque as this
year,s recipient of the Bill Ellis Memorial, given in recognition of an
outstanding woman sailor. The coveted plaque hangs at the URI Sailing Center
in South Kingstown.
Not only does Francis know something about sailing, she knows a great
deal about leadership. She was voted captain of the team twice by her three
dozen or so teammates.
Francis also knows something about raising money. Sailing is truly a
team sport. Members have to pay dues to help pay the coach. If the team
wants to compete in international competition, they have to raise the money
themselves. The trip to France cost nearly $31,000. With a $6,000 grant
from URI,s Student Senate, Francis and her teammates created a successful
letter-writing campaign asking for contributions. Members wrote friends,
parents, relatives, local businesses, and yacht clubs.
Francis has gained other land-based skills. As captain, she represented
URI in the New England Intercollegiate Sailing Association and scheduled
all races. Not an easy task since the sailing team races September through
November, and March through May"every weekend, sometimes in multiple
She also kept track of the team,s boats and their maintenance, sometimes
ran practices, represented the sailing team on the URI Club Sports Council
and negotiated its annual budget. She helped hire the coach and collected
dues to pay him. She set up the contract.
The team races in 15-foot Flying Juniors. To compete in the keelboat
competition both nationally and internationally, Francis asked John Bushee,
a family friend and fellow member of the Bristol Yacht Club, to loan
the team his 35-foot boat Vicious, a Jeanneau one-design. The team
practiced four-days a week in September until they left in October.
Francis got her sea legs early, sailing with her parents, John and Lynne
Francis of Warren, since she was a small tot. She began formal lessons
when she was 8 and raced through high school, applying only to colleges
that had sailing teams. When she came to URI as a freshman, she didn,t expect
to stay. Her sights were set on other schools. But then she fell in love
with both the sailing team and her marine affairs focus.
"The busier I am, the more I can accomplish, says the now old salt.
"Racing is intense and stressful. It,s a big mental game.
"The trip to France was the best thing that has happened to me.
It was so rewarding. We lived in a villa. Eighteen teams, representing 15
different countries dined together.
The URI senior retired as captain this fall but will continue to be a
valuable member of the sailing crew. She,s hoping to go on to graduate school
and focus on environmental planning. No doubt, she,ll be successful. She,s
on the right tack!