His resume is packed with high school, college, and national honors. He could probably single-handedly raise Harvard's national ranking from 14th to inside the top five. The Olympic Committee has offered him full financial support and equipment to train for the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. And you will most likely never see him compete unless you have a few hours and a good pair of binoculars.
Brian Keane '83, is Harvard's top sailor as well as one of the country's most promising entrants for the next Olympics. Competing without crowds, publicity and recognition, Keane has quietly established a reputation of excellence on the collegiate and national level--excellence the U.S. Olympic Committee recognized when it selected Keane and three others last month to receive new boats, free transportation to regattas, and international exposure.
Flattery Gets Nowhere
Keane, although flattered by the offer, decided to decline the chance because of the amount of time it would have entailed spending away from school. "It would have been a dream come true, but I decided that my biggest opportunity right now is going to Harvard," Keane reflects.
The Olympic offer is just the latest in a series of enconiums that have been heaped upon the Leverett House resident. Last year Keane earned an All-American honorable mention for collegiate sailing--an award given to only two freshmen in the entire country--and for the past three years he has either been first or second in the country in contests like the United States Youth Championships, the National Sports Festival, and the Laser World Qualifying Regatta. In 1978, he was selected to participate in the United States Olympic Developmental Training Clinic in Squaw Valley, California--an honor given to only the country's brightest Olympic hopes.
Brains on Waves
Keane, who began sailing in his hometown of Cohasset, Mass. at the age of eight, feels that his greatest asset lies in the fact that he is a "mental sailor."
"I have the ability to concentrate, which is especially important in national and international races which can last as long as two and one-half hours," Keane says.
The sophomore's older brother, John '83, who is also on the sailing team (he deferred entrance for a year to ski competitively), feels that Keane's natural ability to sail well lies is due to four factors; his concentration, his sense of the wind, his feel for the tiller, and his maturity.
"Brian is a wise sailor--he doesn't make stupid mistakes," John says. "His self-confidence--which you usually develop after several years--is also one of hie greatest strengths. The times Brian hasn't done well was when he wasn't totally sure of himself, or when he questioned his judgement on wind shifts."
One of the indicators of Keane's talent is that he did so well last year in his first season of collegiate racing. Collegiate competition differs from other regattas in many ways--the races are shorter, the water is in a confined area, the wind is shiftier, and there is a greater emphasis on strategy and tactics--and the fact that Keane can easily move from boat to boat, as well as amend his style and still win, is a tribute to his superior skills.
Keane is not so immersed in his sailing that he doesn't find time to do well in school, though. Dubbed "Mr. Intensity" by his teammates last year for his dedication to the books, the social studies major hopes to one day go to Law or Business School--preferably, and fittingly, across the River. And, always thinking ahead, Keane intends to remain at Harvard next summer to take some courses that will ultimately lighten his load in the senior year when he will be wrestling with a thesis and his own self-styled efforts at Olympic training.
So the next time you are sunbathing on the Charles, lazily contemplating the aesthetic beauty of the numerous, colorful boats, look a little bit harder for Keane--chances are he will be out there alone, perfecting the techniques that may carry him to national Olympic prominence in a few years.