Hall of Fame

Sean Doyle

Graduation Year


Induction Year


Hall of Fame

Harvard Athletic Achievements

3-time ICSA All-America (2000, 2001, 2002)...2-time ICSA Men’s Singlehanded National Championships qualifier (2000, 2001) ICSA Everett B. Morris Trophy recipient as best intercollegiate sailor (2002) Academic All-Ivy League (2002) 4-year letterwinner 2-time captain (2001, 2002)

Hall of Fame

Remembering Harvard Athletics

Thank you to the Harvard Varsity Club and to the selection committee for the honor of this induction. Thank you to my wife, Susan Bonney Doyle ’02; we met at the John Harvard statue that first day of sailing practice, and I’ve been trying to impress her ever since. Thank you to my coaches, Mike and Bern, who completely changed the way I approached the sport. Thank you to my parents for doing all the selfless work that good parents do. Thank you to my teammates, especially my crew Michelle Yu ’03. We spent three years wet and cold together competing in small boats. I imagine that’s not how you expected to spend so many college hours. Finally, I am also grateful to those who came before and those there today who created these opportunities. Without the College’s dedication to athletics, alumni generosity, and the coaches’ commitment to the athletes, none of this would have occurred. Sailing is not high on the list of revenue-generating sports. However, it is one that Harvard can and has excelled at consistently. This induction makes me remember those days sailing for the Crimson, of course. What was sailing to me before Harvard? I grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida, where in the warm Gulf of Mexico, open-water sailing happened year-round. I’d do day-long downwind practices surfing the Gulf waves until sunset. Often alone and without a coach, I would practice with different training partners depending on the day and year.

What was sailing at Harvard? The complete opposite. Cold, dirty water, with erratic wind hitting the Charles River after being bent by buildings. Every part of a race was broken down into components, with mastering each component as your goal before you began to rebuild them into a better race result the next time. We did this constant work as part of and surrounded by a team of incredibly talented people. I loved it.

While this award is a recognition of success, what I remember most about competing in college is learning to deal with failure. No matter how polished your boat handling, you were one Mass Ave wind shift away from a lousy race. Success came from perfecting what you could, constantly learning, and taking educated risks. The thousands of hours working on these three pillars influences me every day of my life.

I am grateful for the lessons learned. My whole life I’ve sought competition, so much so that I didn’t mind that I had to miss Harvard Commencement in favor of the National Championships. But despite the desire to do well, I have also admittedly seemed to lack the natural talent of many athletes. So I have compensated with dedication, ten thousand hours and such. Being so dedicated to a sport that few people understand, then stopping abruptly to focus on work and now kids while many colleagues went on to campaign for the Olympics makes one wonder: was all that time spent traveling in a red van worth it? This honor is so meaningful in that it reminds me that yes, it was. College athletics is a unique window in one’s life to compete on a level playing field against the best in the country. The successes, failures, and relationships from that competition are with you forever in more than just memories.