Epic Show at College Nationals
Published on May 24th, 2017
The final day of qualifying for the College Women’s Nationals was full-on for the 36 teams seeking to make it to the next round. As Sarah Wilkinson reports, it was an epic show as the sailors sought to stay upright.
Mount Pleasant, SC (May 24, 2017) – Capsizes. That was the theme of the day. Only a few escaped the day without one. Charleston Harbor saw winds in excess of 25 knots, and Fort Sumter spiked in the 50’s. Needless to say, today’s sailing was a challenge.
Teams all along the spectrum went swimming while safety boats calmly circled, ready to help. Many teams were plucked from the water with support personnel jumping in to right boats.
The view from the USS Yorktown did not disappoint. Spectators witnessed spectacular and tragic wipeouts, one of which saw St. Mary’s College of Maryland capsize after an unsuccessful tack while holding a sizeable lead around the leeward mark. Messy!
At one point, looking down onto the fleet from the flight deck, spectators witnessed upwards of five capsizes within 100 yards of the next. One spectator commented that as the puff rolled down the course, it left a line of capsized boats … like the devastation froma tornado.
Waves were another huge factor. College of Charleston sailor and Olympian, Paris Henken, noted how she was sharing the back hiking strap with her crew to keep water from coming over their bow. Wind, rain, and waves drove water over the bow as boats flew downwind. Maneuvering, especially gybing, was often tragic.
The fleet escaped injury, the boats incurred minimal damage, and spectators enjoyed an epic show. Racing is done today, with the top nine in each semi-final division moving on tomorrow for the start of the Women’s Championship finals. Hopefully, fingers crossed, no more capsizes.
Following the women’s nationals are the team racing nationals (May 27-29) and the coed fleet racing nationals (May 30-June 2). Details.