Meet Our Crew

here at MBJA

Marie Mell Colville


Marie joined us again at the start of 2021 as our new Sailing Director! Having previously served a 6-year term as Director of the MBJA, Marie comes to us with a ton of experience. Not only that, but Marie is also a winning collegiate athlete and coach, a top women’s sailor and organizer in MBYC’s JY15 ladies racing programs, and in recent years, she campaigned her own Melges 24 in Holland-area races.

In the off-season, Marie has served as a Reading Specialist at Orchard View High School since 2015 in Muskegon and taught 1st grade prior to that at Eagle Crest in Holland.

We are excited to have Marie back on our crew!


Dr. Sweta Shervegar

Head Coach

A national-level Opti, Laser Radial, and 420 coach for over 10 years in India and Asia, Dr. Sweta is bringing a BOATLOAD of experience to share with our high school and college teams.

As recently as 2018, Coach Sweta earned a silver medal in the Asian Games in the 49er class. She was also part of the silver medalist team in the Par Tai International Keelboat Championships in China and won the Laser Radials at the Indian National Championships in 2007.

This summer, she’ll participate in the Oakcliff keelboat program and campaigning for a berth in the 2024 Olympic 470 class!

Dr. Sweta looks forward to practicing medicine during her time off the water.

picture of ali swets

Become Part of Our Summer Camp Crew

Register Now for Level 1 & Level 2 Instructor Courses!

We are excited to host again this summer!

Level 1

June 9-11

Level 1

June 16-18

Level 2

June 14 & 15

Read About Our 2022 Crew Below

picture of ali swets

Sydney Lewis

This is Sydney’s 5th summer coaching at MBJA and she has been sailing for 11 years! She is entering her sophomore year at Butler University.

Her favorite MBJA memory was, “a summer or two ago, we would take out the J22 and Kate (a past coach) would sit on the front of the boat with all of the kids and just tell sailing stories. They all loved it.”

Syndey’s most epic sailing experience was when, “I got 3rd place in a memorial regatta racing 420s with my sister. The person it was in honor of was a kid that we both loved who sadly passed and to be able to place 3rd in the 420 fleet meant a lot to both of us.”

“I just want to help kids find a love for sailing that my instructors helped me find growing up.” One of the most important life lessons Syndey learned from sailing is that, “things aren’t always going to go the way they want them to because you cannot control everything. You just have to keep going and it will all work out in the end.”

“Everyone that works at MBJA loves sailing and just wants to help the kids have fun and enjoy their time while also getting an educational experience.”

Eden Nykamp

Eden has been coaching at MBJA for 3 years and started sailing 9 years ago because her dad had sailing lessons as a kid and thought it would be a great experience for her. It certainly has been!

She shared this memory from her early days: “When I was in Opti camp, we were sailing across the lake to the general store and I got stuck with someone who didn’t like sailing. She ended up leaving me to go with our coach. At first I was nervous to sail on my own, but coach said, ‘show me you can do it.’ And I did! It was cool for her to show her faith in me that way.”

Her most epic/crazy sailing experience was when “I went out in lasers with 3 other people. We knew there was a storm coming, but we went out the channel to get some upwind sailing drills in before it hit. The breeze picked up and it start to rain and thunder, so someone called the fire department to help us, but we told them we were fine. As soon as they left, one of the other lasers lost their outhaul and by the time we fixed it, we were too late, the cell was here. I was smaller than the others and couldn’t keep my boat upright, so I had to flip it and sit on my turtled boat to wait for the wind to die down.”

The biggest life lesson Eden has taken away from sailing is that “stuff happens. You just gotta embrace every moment and roll with it.” A note to future students based on an experience she witnessed with another student is, “don’t overeat before sailing, especially not pure sugar.”

picture of ali swets
picture of ali swets

Elizabeth Gildea

This will be Elizabeth’s 2nd year coaching at MBJA, and she has been sailing for 11 years! “My first sailing lesson was at MBJA and it was where I fell in love with the sport!”

Elizabeth just finished her Sophomore year at Old Dominion University. She is on the sailing team there and competed in College Women’s and Laser Nationals this year.

“I hope to inspire and help kids fall in love with the sport as much as I did as well as help Old Dominion qualify for Women’s, Co-ed, and Team race nationals during the next few years.”

“[My] most epic sailing experience was College Laser Nationals this year in Newport. It was windy, wavy, and there was a whole lot of current!

Sailing has taught be to always be prepared and able to adapt to new changes.”


Alden Gort

Alden has been sailing for 8 years on a variety of boats and races with the Black River Sailing team and this is his 2nd year coaching.

His favorite MBJA memory was when, “there was one light air day during the summer a few years ago so all the race kids switched boats for the afternoon. The opti kids sailed 420s and lasers while the big kids crammed into optis. We even had a little race between us. I don’t think there was a person on the water that day who wasn’t smiling ear to ear.”

The best experience I’ve had sailing was on a Sunday morning VX race. It was a cloudy day with 20-25 knot gusts, but a few boats decided to go out. The wind built in consistency as the day went on so my skipper and I just sent it on the downwind legs. Kite up, weight back, full hike, bow out of the water, then we were gone! Post-race analysis said we hit 20 kts of boat speed. It was pure bliss on that run, and I haven’t been able to top the feeling since. Perhaps the best part of it all was that nothing broke on any of the boats that day, not even in the extreme winds.”

Alden aspires to “go to Chubb Nationals in the next 2 years while I’m still eligible. Winning the Gold Cup for Wednesday Night racing would be pretty sweet too. Last year we lost on our throw-outs, so I know we can do it, it’s just a matter of racing well.”

Teamwork has been the biggest lesson I’ve learned from sailing by far. Sailing really forces you to learn how to communicate with others quickly and efficiently. It also takes a lot to build up a team environment among your crew whether it be high schoolers or club teammates, and I don’t think I would have learned those skills if it weren’t for sailing.”

picture of ali swets
picture of ali swets

Lauren Siegers

Lauren is another 2nd year coach at MBJA. She does not come from a sailing family, but now has 4 years of sailing experience from racing with the Holland Christian team. She graduated last year and just spent her first year at Indiana Wesleyan University.

One of her favorite MBJA memories was when, “Ali was joking about tackling me, but accidentally tripped and did in fact tackle me.”

Lauren’s most epic sailing experience was when, “I was sailing with Amelia at a regatta and it was super windy. We were having so much fun and being super loud. We were so loud and crazy that starboard boats were moving for us. I don’t know how we did in that regatta, but that’s the most fun I’ve ever had sailing and my most memorable regatta experience.”

Sailing has taught Lauren, “how to let things go. When I get hard on myself after a bad race, I usually sail bad the next race. Being able to move on from something bad and focus on what’s ahead, instead of what’s already happened, makes life a whole lot more enjoyable.”

Lauren wants future students to know that, “we have the best coaches ever. I learned everything I know about sailing from MBJA, but our coaches have had impacts on my life outside sailing.”

Kiarra Bracelly

Kiarra is a first year coach at MBJA! She has 7 years of experience sailing a boat and no one else in her family sails. 

“One time I was sailing on Lake Michigan while taking a summer class at MBJA and I sailed up to a boat and asked if they caught anything; then just sailed back to my instructor. My instructor was impressed of how comfortable I was on the water.”

Kiarra’s most epic sailing experience was when, “I was sailing a sunfish in Aruba one time and it was an experience. It was beautiful and calming not counting the time my rudder broke twice that day. I saw people at the beach surfing and snorkeling , people in boats blasting music, someone getting attacked by birds; and I was just chilling in my boat sailing back and forth with no destination.”

Sailing has taught Kiarra, “Nature will always win. Expect the unexpected. It taught me perseverance, patience, hard work, self improvement, keep a focused mind in all circumstances.”

Kiarra wants future students to know that, “Sailing teaches you memorable lessons that you will use for the rest of your life.”

picture of ali swets
picture of ali swets

Taylor Rode

This is be Taylor’s first year coaching at MBJA, and she has been sailing for 8 years! “When I was on MBJA’s race team, we all had nicknames. I was Shrek and my sister was Donkey. One day, we were going out to Lake Michigan and as we passed the coast guard boat, the team was jokingly daring my sister to say something to them. All of a sudden she shouts, “ I am Donkey!!!!” to the coast guard and we got pulled over. We still laugh about to this day!”

“I cant think of the most epic, but the most special time was when I got to sail with my sister at a regatta in Chicago. We had so much fun and made lots of good memories together!”

“I loved my time sailing opti’s, but I’ve also loved sailing 420s in high school! I cant choose!”

Work hard! I remember one of my MBJA sailing coaches telling me “Work harder than those in front of you, until there is no one in front of you at all.” This quote has really stuck with me in my life even beyond sailing.

Johnny Hessler

Bio coming soon!

picture of ali swets
picture of ali swets

LJ Nykamp

Bio coming soon!

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Macatawa Bay Yacht Club
P.O. Box 207 Macatawa 49434

(616) 335-5815

Since 1982, the MBJA Sailing School has operated on the grounds of Macatawa Bay Yacht Club, serving the Holland community as a 501c(3) non-profit sailing school.

Since 1982, the MBJA Sailing School has operated on the grounds of Macatawa Bay Yacht Club, serving the Holland community as a 501c(3) non-profit sailing school.