College Sailing: Spring Season Update

Published on April 17th, 2019

Chris Klevan provides this week’s update from the seven conferences of the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association (ICSA).

The College Sailing season effectively flips script, switching from a predominantly team race centered season, lasting about 7 weeks, to a short sprint to conference fleet race championships as the national championship picture becomes clear. However, last weekend offered something unique and perhaps pointed to what college sailing will look like in the future.

Brown won the Women’s Team Race National Invitational, sailing away from the competition on home waters. The conditions were excellent for sailing and favored the fastest sailors – which Brown proved to be, losing only two races and finishing with a 17-2 final record. Throughout the 19 races sailed, the Brown women found themselves in the 1-2 combination in all but three finishes.

“This was the 2nd Annual Women’s Team Race National Invitational and in just the second year the number of teams competing was almost double of last year (7 teams),” said Brown University Head Coach John Mollicone. “Hopefully the momentum will continue and more out of conference teams will attend. The hope is for this to become an end of the season ICSA National Championship for Women’s Team Racing.”

Brown sailed three of the best women’s skippers in the game today – Ragna Agerup ‘20, Sophie Hibben ‘19, and Hannah Steadman ‘20 – alongside a cadre of experienced and excellent crews – Abigayle Konys ‘19, Maxine De Havenon ‘19, Megha Malpani ‘19, Emily Ito ‘19, and Emma Montgomery ‘22.

Agerup is one of the fastest boats, period, in the nation – she showed this at the Women’s Team Race. Steadman is dominant in B-Division, won the last two A-Divisions she’s sailed, including the New England (NEISA) Conference Championship last fall and is one of the best female team racers you’ll see in the game today. Hibben, Brown’s third skipper, would likely be an All-American if she gets the call to start at Nationals.

“Winning this event was a huge goal of our women’s sailors this season and we were really excited to host it here at Brown,” said Mollicone. “A large portion of our winning team has been sailing at the coed A-level team race events all spring, finishing just two wins out of qualifying for Team Race Nationals last weekend. They were certainly in strong team race form throughout the event!”

Needless to say, Brown is deep in the women’s game. They even sailed a second team of eight women at the event and they finished tied for 4th with a 12-7 record! All together, Brown sailed 16 female sailors who combined to win 29 races of the 36 it was possible for them to win.

This needs to be highlighted as many of these girls will be overlooked on the bench for the rest of the season watching some of the best sailors in the game and their classmates campaign for two national championships in May.

Dartmouth finished second behind the prowess of Emma White ‘19 and Audrey Giblin ‘20, two of the best in their own right. The Big Green started slow but won 6 of the their last 7 races sailed against the other top eight teams.

“It was a real battle for second place and it came down to the last race for the podium positions between Dartmouth, MIT, and BU,” continued Mollicone. “Brown secured the win with a few races to go, with each team sailing 19 races in the gold fleet (top 8) and 20 in the silver fleet (bottom 5).

“The team racing was fun to watch all the way until the end and was right off the docks of the Edgewood Yacht Club making for great spectating in a nice southerly all weekend. The vibe of the competitors was great!”

Dartmouth sailed White, Giblin, and Rebecca McElvain ‘19 (a likely All-American crew) at skipper with Lisa Genthner ‘19, Alyssa Berger ‘19, and Mary Amis ‘19 at crew.

MIT finished third at 13-6. Boston University finished fourth at 12-7, tied with Brown’s second team.

“I know our women at Brown would like to see more women’s team races at a high level and a National Championship for Women’s Team Racing,” remarked Mollicone.

University of Wisconsin won the Midwest (MCSA) Team Race Championship, finishing with a 9-3 record after four full round robins sailed in the four team regatta. The Badgers of Wisconsin split the regatta series against Northwestern, 2-2 and beat Michigan 3 out of 4 races sailed head to head in route to claiming the championship.

Half of the teams that attend the MCSA Team Race Nationals go on to sail in the LaserPerformance Team Race National Championship.

University of Michigan was the other team that qualified out of the conference, finishing with a 8-4 record. Michigan sailed Harrison George ‘22, Connor Goulet ‘21, and Jenna Probst ‘22 at skipper with Kristen Pichard ‘21, Will Neubauer ‘20, Sarah Silvestri ‘19, Jake Orhan ‘21, Margaret Carroll ‘21, and Kyle Doyle ‘20 at crew.

The Michigan Wolverines only sailed one team race outside the MCSA, the Southern New England Team Race. This will be their fifth appearance at the Team Race Nationals in the past six years. However, the fact that they were last at the Southern New England Team Race with a 0-18 record and have failed to crack the top 12 at any of their last 5 appearances at Team Race Nationals suggests an uphill battle for this young Michigan squad.

A similar sentiment can be suggested about the Badgers which attended no out of conference team races and only one in conference team race beyond the MCSA Championship last weekend. Moreover, while Wisconsin has attended every Team Race Nationals since the regatta started appearing on techscore in 2013, they have never cracked the top 10 in that seven year span.

Wisconsin sailed Charlie Kutschenreuter ‘19, Christian Spencer ‘22, and Samuel Bartel ‘22 at skipper and Olivia Staruck ‘20, Maggie Houtz ‘19, Kate Britt ‘21, and William Huerth ‘20 at crew.

Stanford won the Thompson Trophy hosted by Connecticut College. The 3-division regatta was a true display of the Cardinal’s depth as they won by 74 points over second place Harvard with two of their best skippers elsewhere. The dominant victory is largely attributed to the brilliance of Jack Parkin ‘21 and Taylor Kirkpatrick ‘20 in C-Division. Clearly, not in league with their competition, Parkin and Kirkpatrick won the division by 46 points.

Parkin and Kirkpatrick won 7 of the 13 races sailed and finished top-4 in all but one of the 13 races. Stanford finished second in B-Division and 6th in A-Division to capture the regatta win.

“Depth certainly makes practice super effective all the time so it can only help,” said Stanford Coach Clinton Hayes. “That said, it doesn’t translate directly into success at Nationals because that is more a function of how good your best are relative to the other best sailors in ICSA. We’re actively working to address our current weaknesses.

“Another thing is that it’s easy to lose focus on the basic fundamentals with a deep team where everyone is pretty good. No matter how good you get, it’s doing those basic skills really really well that translates most directly into success. I think we didn’t do that so well in the past and it was a learning experience for me. We’re working hard to stay focused on what’s important.”

Harvard finished second with 274 points and Coast Guard finished third with 299 points.

Yale’s Shawn Harvey ‘21 and Graceann Nicolosi ‘20 won A-Division, defeating Harvard’s Eli Burnes ‘21 and Lena Episalla ‘19 by 13 points. Harvey is traditionally the Bulldog’s B-Division driver. Nicolosi is one of the best crews in the nation. The tandem scored seven races inside the top-5 throughout the 13 race regatta, including 4 first place finishes.

Henry Burnes ‘21 and Catherine Tang ‘19 of Harvard won B-Division by 11 points over Stanford’s Telis Athanasopoulos Yogo ‘22 and Meg Gerli ‘19. After a slow start, the Crimson boat failed to finish outside the top-6 in all of the final 10 races. The final six races, Burnes and Tang scored three first place finishes and three fourth place finishes to put the division win away.

The US Naval Academy won their home regatta, the Navy Spring, sneaking a 4 point win over Georgetown in the final race of the regatta. Navy also finished 5th at the Thompson Trophy last weekend.

Sean Segerblom ‘20 and Rebecca Fung ‘19 of Georgetown dominated A-Division, beating second placed Parker Loftus ‘20 and Sally Johnson ‘22 of Navy by 28 points. Segerblom and Fung scored only top-8 finishes throughout the regatta and had half of their races scored inside the top-3.

Connor Bayless ‘21 and Ana Mier ‘19 of Navy squeaked the B-Division win over Alie Toppa ‘20 and Annabel Carrington ‘19 of Charleston. Bayless and Mier won the first four races sailed in B-Division and, like Segerblom and Fung, never scored outside the top-8. Toppa and Carrington caught fire midway through the event finishing either first or second in seven of the final 11 races sailed.

Entering the final B-Division race, Georgetown had 116 points and Navy was sitting with 121. A 12th placed finish by Georgetown made Bayless and Mier’s 3rd enough to capture the regatta win.

Like Navy, winning the Navy Spring and finishing 5th at the Thompson, Stanford had a first place finish at the Navy Spring to go along with a win at the Thompson. One of Stanford’s best skippers, Romain Screve, had last weekend off.

“For sure our team is pretty deep right now especially on the coed side,” said Stanford Coach Clinton Hayes. “We had good results across two regattas and even had others back on campus who didn’t sail this weekend. That said, some of our women’s drivers are great crews and will sail in heavy air situations during team racing.

“Stephanie Houck was also very close (9 points) to a top 4 result at Navy with a talented crew she’s never sailed with before so hopefully she’ll be able to carry that momentum into qualifiers this weekend and ultimately nationals.

“Every kid is different. Most require some maturing process over the course of freshmen year transitioning into college sailing – I certainly did. Even the most talented face struggles that they didn’t foresee, like life in the college dorm, and hit mental hurdles when they’re not winning but the quicker they move beyond that the sooner they can become great college sailors.”

Background: The ICSA is the governing authority for sailing competition at colleges and universities throughout the United States and in some parts of Canada. There are seven Conferences that schedule and administer regattas within their established geographic regions, with ICSA hosting two national championships in the fall and three national championships in the spring.

2018 Fall Nationals
November 2-4 – Singlehanded – Holland, MI
November 16-18 – Match Racing – Newport Beach, CA

2019 Spring Nationals
May 21-24 – Women’s – Newport, RI
May 25-27 – Team Race – Newport, RI
May 28-31 – Coed – Newport, RI

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