Scott Rasmussen and Erika Reineke couldn’t remember the first time they met.
I asked if they remembered the moment, hoping for a good story with entertaining personal anecdotes. But the question immediately elicited laughter from the two friends. They looked at each other, smiling and wrinkling their eyebrows, as they attempted to come up with the answer. After about a minute, they both turned to look at me, laughing with a resounding, yet somewhat defeated, “No.” So, I asked for the next best thing: “What is your favorite moment with the other person, outside of sailing?”
“I got it.”
Rasmussen answered immediately and looked slyly over at Reineke, who promptly interjected with a laugh, “Don’t say anything that’s going to get us in trouble.”
Rasmussen, quickly assuring Reineke that the story was not actually going to get them into any trouble, launched into a retelling of one time he and Reineke were out on a boat together, wakeboarding and doing other water sports. Both of them were just starting to really get to know each other, but they mutually decided it would be a good idea to ditch their boards and just get pulled along behind the boat. Eventually, the two hit each other in the water and all Rasmussen could hear was Reineke screaming “My pants are falling off!”
“That’s pretty much it,” Rasmussen looked over at Reineke once he was done with his story, smiling guiltily. That’s the one that best sums them up.
But they’re more than just friends that joke around constantly and teammates that sail together everyday. Individually, they’re accomplished, elite athletes who top the national rankings in their sport.
Reineke, a graduating senior, will finish her Boston College sailing career with four NEISA Women’s Singlehanded Championship titles under her belt along with a 2015 NEISA Conference Women’s Sailor of the Year award. Rasmussen is just beginning his with his first National Championship win and a successful high school run.
But Rasmussen and Reinke have known each other well before they both competed in Nationals, in fact, they knew each other well before Rasmussen even came to BC this past year. The freshman and the senior are from the same area in Florida, and Rasmussen sailed with Reineke’s younger sister throughout his high school career at the Lauderdale Yacht Club. Reineke came to get to know Rasmussen when she came home from BC for the summers. Rasmussen would make the two-hour drive up from Cape Coral to Fort Lauderdale, spending the weekends on Reineke’s couch in order to train with the Laser-sailing team Reineke had trained with before continuing her career in Chestnut Hill.
Head coach Greg Wilkinson likes to keep recruiting information as private as possible, but Reineke found out Rasmussen was joining her at BC through his parents. Reineke was excited to have her friend on the team, but she also understood the impact Rasmussen would have on a program with such a rich history.
“When I found that out I was thinking about our Laser program, because he’s a great Laser sailor,” Reineke said, “and just from the experience of being a laser sailor, how great it would be to have him on our team to also push other athletes.”
Rasmussen was excited that he would be sailing on a team with Reineke, not just because it was an opportunity to get closer in friendship, but because Reineke was someone that Rasmussen looked up to and would be able to follow. Specifically, Reineke could help Rasmussen figure out the laser program, which works a bit different from the rest of the team at BC. Usually, BC sailors practice in double-handed dinghies, which necessitates a completely different set of skills than the single-handed lasers.
BC sailing’s Laser crew only consists of three people: Reineke, Rasmussen, and sophomore Isabella Loosbrock, which allowed for the two friends to spend even more time together.
“We’re a weirder bunch,” Reineke said, “so that’s why I think we all get along.”
Rasmussen agreed, “We’re weird, we’re weird.”
Despite spending most of their time together during Laser practices, Reineke recalled that her favorite memory of sailing with Rasmussen wasn’t with the Laser crew. She and Rasmussen sailed a 420, a double-handed dinghy, together at a windy regatta. Since the course was different from what both sailors were accustomed to during laser regattas, both Reineke and Rasmussen were confused about the layout of the course. This led to a lot of questions, both asked and unanswered, throughout the race, but they eventually, said Reineke, sailed to the finish.
“Scotty, you got a different one?” Reineke turned to Rasmussen, also wondering what his favorite sailing story of the two of them would be.
Rasmussen smiled at Reineke and started slowly, “Probably one of the funniest moments sailing with her was right after she found out I had won nationals,” he said. “I was just looking at her face and she was in shock I guess. She was just like,” Rasmussen pauses to open his mouth wide in awe, raises his voice to a Valley-Girl pitch to mock Reineke’s voice, and says, “‘No way! No way!”
Reineke sailed toward the dock in the randomly calm conditions of Galveston, Texas, knowing she had just won her fourth National Singlehanded Championship title. She saw her mom running down the dock toward her approaching boat. Reineke smiled, expecting eager and excited “Congratulations” from her mother, Sharon.
Instead, Sharon skipped the “congrats” entirely.
“Scotty won! Scotty won!” She cheered at her daughter, skipping over her daughter’s accomplishment. Then again, Reineke did, too.
Reineke recalled that the win was a huge surprise, not because she doubted Rasmussen’s ability in the least, but because Coach Wilkinson simply did not talk about his fleet due to his own nervousness. Reineke had no idea where Rasmussen was in the standings.
“I just remember like the biggest smile coming to my face,” Reineke said, “and I had chills in that moment.”
Rasmussen also had chills during that moment, but for a different reason. During the race right before the last two of the regatta, Rasmussen flipped. This set him back in points, possibly ruining his chances of making even the top three, which had been his principal finishing goal for the regatta: just contend for the top three. This put an added pressure on Rasmussen for the following two races.
After the second-to-last race went well, Rasmussen was in a good place to not only make the top three, but to win the whole thing. Before the final race, Rasmussen went up to Wilkinson, “And the only thing he said to me was, looked at me in the eye all serious and just said, ‘You have to do whatever it takes to win this race,’ and I honestly thought he was talking about like, killing people it was that serious.”
But the advice worked, because Rasmussen sailed what he thinks was the best race of his life. Although once he had finished, he wasn’t sure of what his standing was. He sat at the finish, looked back at the other boats, and tried to calculate the points in his head. He didn’t know for sure he had won, though, until he saw Wilkinson on the dock, waving his arms and jumping up and down.
Reineke shook her head as Rasmussen finished recounting his first championship regatta. “Even now I’m getting chills,” she said.
This is what makes Reineke and Rasmussen’s relationship go beyond just teammates—just friends even. There’s a selflessness in their friendship that stands out against their silliness, their teasing, their hard work. They are happier and prouder for their counterpart’s accomplishments more than they are for their own.
The two are at opposite ends of their careers, Reineke, a graduating senior with four National Championship titles. She’ll be leaving BC having finished nearly every regatta in the top three and with the status of being one of the best female sailors in the nation.
But Rasmussen is just getting started. The freshman snagged his first National title the same day Reineke won her fourth, and now it’s just a matter of continuing the momentum and following the legacy that other BC sailors, national champions, and Olympic athletes have created.
Photo Courtesy of Scott Rasmussen