Morris was the only non-senior midshipman to compete in this world-recognized competition, which included teams from France, Switzerland, England, Belgium, Scotland, Norway, Ireland, Germany, China and Japan.
The Navy Offshore Sailing team qualified for the race upon winning the Kennedy Cup last November. As the national championship for collegiate sailing, the Kennedy Cup is a three-day competition hosted in Annapolis, Md. More than a dozen teams competed, but Navy eventually brought home the trophy.
Despite winning the national championship, Navy could only send five midshipmen to France. These five competitors were Midshipman 1st Class Andrew Beeler as the skipper, Midshipman 1st Class Neal McMillan as the driver, Midshipman 1st Class Roscoe Thomas as the bowman, Midshipman 1st Class Alexa Cioralla as the spinnaker trimmer, and Morris as the pit person and co-tactician.
“I felt nervous but was extremely excited to compete on the international stage,” said Morris. “It was definitely an honor to represent not only the Naval Academy, but the United States of America.”
The midshipmen were selected based on their experience and performance in competition. As a sophomore, Morris, who has almost a decade of experience on the water, made the cut.
“I felt like I was given a special opportunity to sail for Team USA as an underclassman,” Morris said. “But in the end we’re all teammates trying to win.”
Once the mids arrived in France, they spent two days practicing on the J-80 sailboats provided by the host country. After intense training, they were ready to sail. Morris and his teammates competed in 18 races in six days, testing them both physically and mentally. The weather tended to be rainy and foggy, so GPS navigation was essential.
Despite hardships faced on the water, Team USA came out with a third-place finish, only falling short to France and Switzerland.
“It was such an honor to race with the best sailors from other countries and I made a ton of international friends,” Morris said.
But the best part about France?
“Definitely the free crepes,” said Morris.