Alexandra Damley-Strnad is spending her summer on the water, training for the sailing competition at the 2015 Pan American Games, which begin next month in Toronto.
Captain of the University of Miami Women’s Sailing Team, Damley-Strnad credits her studies in Aerospace Engineering and the competitiveness among fellow students and doctoral engineering students with helping her succeed on the water.
“The stuff I’m learning like forces, airflow, dynamics – all of that stuff is really helpful on the water,” Damley-Strnad said. “Being around these Ph.D. students, seeing their drive, dedication, and motivation has really influenced me to take a stand outside of studies and pursue the dreams I want to achieve.”
For the Pan American Games, that dream is to medal and “be on the podium,” said the UM sophomore, who will be representing Team Canada.
Damley-Strnad was born in Canada, and moved to New York when she was a young girl. During summer vacation in Toronto, around the age of 10, she started learning to sail, and later competing in a one-person Laser racing dinghy. After graduating from high school, she wanted to go to college where she could pursue both sailing and engineering.
“It’s surprisingly really hard to find an aerospace engineering program and a good sailing team,” she said. She ultimately chose UM over Purdue University because of the easy access to the water and many aviation headquarters in the Miami area.
Since being in Miami, Alexandra has been named captain of the UM Women’s Sailing Team, learned to sail in the Snipe class, trained with world class sailor Augie Diaz, met her sailing partner, Evert McLaughlin, and qualified for the Pan American Games.
The competition, taking place between July 12 to July 19, is “open class” (open to any mix of genders) and will see her face off with nine other boats, including one skippered by her mentor Diaz, who is representing the United States.
“It’s really amazing to see a legend like Augie on the water,” said Damley-Strnad.