To the outside observer, his lifejacket color and wristwatch appear to be all that separate Harvard freshman sailor Brian Drumm from his identical twin Michael.
But differentiating the two is not as difficult as one might think, given that they compete on separate boats—having done so since high school—and may, at any given moment, excel at a variety of roles for the Crimson.
“They’re both capable of skippering and crew,” Crimson coach Michael O’Connor said, “and we have to place a higher priority on getting as many good skippers on our race course as we can for every practice.”
For the versatile Drumms, spending time apart on the water has, in fact, helped develop a competitive edge.
During practices, the brothers motivate each other to constantly improve. And when they sail at different times during regattas, they take every opportunity to exchange information and give each other advice.
The Drumms are also not afraid to openly express their emotions towards each other—which, after all, might make sailing on the same boat a fairly bad idea.
“We helped push each other when we were on different boats,” Brian said. “We express our opinions more with each other than with other people, so if we get angry at each other—if we get a little frustrated—then we let the other one know that we’re frustrated.”
Whatever the Drumm brothers have been doing, it seems to be working so far, as each has found success in top-level regattas in their freshman fall.
Their accomplishments include a second-place finish for Brian in the A Division at the Atlantic Coast Championship in mid-November, and an eighth-place finish for Michael in the B Division of the Sherman Hoyt Trophy in late October.
Though their personal connection obviously began at birth, it has only been furthered through sailing.
The Drumms first got on the water at the age of five in Marblehead, Mass., a hotbed for the sport.
During the fall and spring seasons, the Drumm twins sailed on the Marblehead High School sailing team, leading their squad to a state championship as senior co-captains. In the summers, they competed individually as they travelled to regattas throughout the country.
But earlier this year, it had seemed that the twins would finally part ways when they headed off to college. Though both were accepted at Harvard and MIT, Brian was set to join the Crimson, while Michael planned on sailing with the Engineers. A visit to Cambridge in April, however, persuaded Michael to spend another four years on the water with his brother.
“I was actually really set on going to MIT,” Michael said. “I thought I was gonna go to MIT, but then after Visitas, I changed my mind.”
The choice to remain together is likely just one component in the twins’ collegiate success.