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2017-06-21 / Featured / News

Austin Powers wins top sailing award

BY RICH GRISET STAFF WRITER


In April, Matoaca High graduate Austin Powers (left) received the 2017 Robert Purrington Award for his sailing prowess at Christopher Newport University. 
PHOTO BY ASHLEY OAKS-CLARY In April, Matoaca High graduate Austin Powers (left) received the 2017 Robert Purrington Award for his sailing prowess at Christopher Newport University. PHOTO BY ASHLEY OAKS-CLARY As a recent graduate of Christopher Newport University, a school whose mascot is the Captains, Chesterfield native Austin Powers is living up to that moniker well.

At the Mid-Atlantic Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association Conference Championship in late April, Powers was named the 2017 Robert Purrington Award winner. The trophy is given each year to a graduating senior in the conference who has made outstanding contributions both competitively and through the promotion of sailing.

The 22-year-old was nominated by CNU sailing coach Maxwell Plarr, and voted on by the conference’s coaches. It’s only the fourth time a sailor from a Division III school has been awarded the honor.

“It was a great feeling,” says Powers of receiving the award, noting that CNU isn’t a traditional sailing powerhouse such as Cornell, Columbia or Princeton. “It’s nice to see after four years that we’re really starting to gain some recognition and move up the ladder.”


PHOTO BY AMANDA ATTARDI PHOTO BY AMANDA ATTARDI A Chesterfield resident from the age of 2 until his graduation from Matoaca High, Powers grew up sailing out of Fishing Bay Yacht Club in Deltaville. At CNU, Powers joined the sailing team, and became a co-captain in 2015.

Describing his collegiate sailing career, Powers says, “It’s a lot of time commitment: Practice four days a week, plus [weight] lifting two days a week.”

For Plarr, the decision to nominate Powers was an easy one.

“He’s been a phenomenal athlete through all four years,” Plarr says. “He was always at the edge of competition, and pushing the team harder and farther. His student leadership made me want to nominate him for the Purrington Award.”

Plarr says CNU’s sailing team has recently grown in stature, thanks in part to Powers.

“Over the last few years, we’ve really come into our own and turned the program into a nationally recognized program,” Plarr says. “[I’m] proud of his accomplishments, and proud to be his coach.”

Co-captain and fellow Chesterfield resident Kaitlyn Reilly agrees that Powers’ honor was well-deserved.

“He’s a great teammate. He’s so enthusiastic about the sport,” says the 21-year-old Midlothian High alum. “You can tell he has such a passion for it, and I’m excited to see where he goes with his career.”

As for sharing a name with Mike Myers’ shagadelic British movie character, Powers says he’s taken his fair share of ribbing.

“I think I was 2 when the movie came out, and my parents were hoping the movie would not catch on, but obviously, it did,” Powers says. “People remember my name, so there’s an upside to it, too.”

Last month, Powers graduated from CNU with a double major in finance and business management. He now lives and works in Deltaville for sailmaker Ullman Sails as a service manager and one-design sales coordinator (one-designs are a racing class that refers to a particular model or design of boat). For his job, Powers races with customers, showing off his company’s product and giving sailing tips.

To Plarr, the job is evidence of Powers’ skill and devotion to sailing.

“He graduated on [a] Saturday; he was at work on Monday,” Plarr says. “Not many millennials can say they have that opportunity these days.” ¦

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