Racing for the USA : Winthrop Sailing Program Launches The Career of Two Future Olympians

Winthrop might have an opportunity to boast about two of its own joining the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Nora (27) and Atlantic Brugman (28) may currently live elsewhere, but they have deep seated roots in Winthrop by the sea. The two sisters, who were born in Spain 16 months apart, and are the daughters of Daniel Brugman, three-time All-Star and MVP Hall of Fame athlete for Winthrop High School and the granddaughters of the late Richard and Mary Brugman, longtime residents and members of the Cottage Park Yacht Club. While the entire Brugman family participated in the sailing program at CPYC at one time or another over the years, Nora and Atlantic, developed a passion so strong that it will likely land them in the 2020 Olympics. 

While the sisters were born in Spain, they have U.S. citizenship through their father, and grew up spending their summers in the Boston area, sailing at every opportunity they could. “We come from a very sports-oriented family,” Nora said, noting that her father played hockey at Yale and later as a pro in Europe, where he met the girls’ mother. “My father also played at Winthrop High and was on the 1976 team that won the State Championship and was the MVP of the state tournament.”The question that has to be addressed is the irony of Atlantic’s name. In addition to her parents wanting her to be a sailor, they named her after the ocean that lies between her American father and her Spanish mother’s native homeland.

This isn’t the first time the Brugman family has set their sights on the Olympics, as their uncle was an Olympic skier. The fact that they started sailing Opti boats at ages three and four combined with their love of the sport that runs deep in their family, are two of the key ingredients for Olympic athletes. Setting themselves up for success, Nora and Atlantic are currently training full time focusing on endurance, speed, technique, maneuvers and starts.

“We have dreamed of being in the Olympics since we were little Optimist sailors,” they said. “We started talking about going to the Olympics together when we were just kids. When we began sailing in the 420 class, and we were trying to motivate ourselves to perform better, we use to pretend that if we passed the boat ahead of us it meant we won a Gold Medal. Eventually we realized that this was too important of a dream to not give it 100 percent of our effort and to try and turn it into a reality.”

With successful training comes funds for proper equipment, travel and coaching, which adds one more challenge for the dedicated sisters. Because funds are not provided by the USA Olympic Committee, they are currently raising money to cover their budget for this summer’s regattas, and in August they will be traveling to Japan to compete in the first Olympic trials event, the World Championship of Enoshima. They are hoping to raise $50,520 to cover the flights, coaching fees, housing, coach boat rental, coach boat gas, living expenses, regatta entry fee, new racing equipment, which includes their very first new boat, as well as the transportation of the boat to and from Japan.

“We are sailors because of the love our father had for sailing and his encouragement that we take up this wonderful sport. Had our grandparents never signed our father up for classes at CPYC, where he learned to love this sport, we would have never become sailors ourselves, and our lives would look very different today,” Nora said.

Over the years, the sisters have embraced the sailing community everywhere they’ve lived, and they’ve built lifelong connections in the sport. The connection that goes back the furthest is the one they formed at the CPYC. Committed to their roots they encourage Winthrop sailors to contact them if they have any questions about the sport or traveling to events in the US or outside the US.

“I was very pleased to see two Winthrop sailors join the sailing team at my alma mater, Connecticut College. Cecilia Moreira just finished her Junior year and Simon Moreira his Freshman year,” said Atlantic. “For many people the idea of going to the Olympics begins as a dream when they are just young kids. Sometimes, when we are young, we may think that because we are not the best, strongest or most knowledgeable, the Olympics is an unattainable goal. However, most Olympians are not those who won all the races in the Optimist days, but the ones with the most passion, with hardworking skills and drive. We encourage all those young sailors with a dream, like going to the Olympics, to never give up on those dreams. With hard work, you can attain any goal you set your mind to.”

The Brugman Family is having a fundraising event at the Winthrop Golf Club on Saturday, July 6, from 6-10 p.m. to help support them and pave the way to Tokyo in 2020. There will be raffles, silent auction items and a 50/50 raffle. For more information, please contact Mark D’Ambrosio at [email protected] or 617-750-4956.

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