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College Sailing: Spring Season Update

Published on May 1st, 2019

Conference Championships for Coed Fleet Racing across the nation spiked blood pressures and showcased the best in the country as the top teams advance to the Semi-Finals and some top-15 teams are sent home for the season. Chris Klevan provides this week’s update from the seven conferences of the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association (ICSA).

Yale University won the New England (NEISA) Coed Championship, The Coast Guard Alumni Bowl, hosted by Bowdoin College in 40 degree rain and puffy breeze on the Harpswell Sound. Of the 18 teams sailing in the event, 11 are ranked in the top-20 according to the most recent Sailing World College Sailing Rankings. In a regatta that qualifies 9, three of those top teams were eliminated, including last year’s national champion, MIT.

The vast majority of the regatta was held in puffy conditions, a “WSW breeze at 6-18 knots” that kept New England’s top sailors with their toes in their hiking straps. Yale dominated, winning the 28-race regatta by 63 points over the home team, Bowdoin. Presumptive college sailor of the year, Nic Baird with Sonia Lingos-Utley ‘21 (races 3-14) and Claudia Loiacono ‘21 (1-2) was the driving force behind the decisive win. Baird, Loiacono, and Lingos-Utley’s worst set was a 9,5 and they finished with 6 races inside the top-2.

The effort by the Yale A-Division boat was enough to defeat Dartmouth’s Chris Williford ‘19, Rebecca McElvain ‘19, Mary Amis ‘19, and Eloise Burn ‘21 by 18 points to win the division. Baird, primarily sailing with Lingos-Utley has now won 6 of the 7 regattas he’s sailed in this spring, after a fall where he never finished outside the top-3 in double handed fleet racing.

There will likely be other finalists for the Coed version of ICSA’s most prestigious individual award, such as Williford and Augie Dale from Charleston. However, the Coed College Sailor of the Year award is Nic Baird’s to lose. This spring Baird has proven he’s more than qualified to meet that challenge.

Shawn Harvey ‘21 of Yale, sailing with New England’s top crew, winner of the Babineau, NEISA crew of the Year Graceann Nicolosi was nearly as impressive as Baird, Loiacono, and Lingos-Utley. Harvey and Nicolosi won 5 of the 14 races sailed in B-Division and finished second in an additional two races. The Yale tandem won B-Division by 9 points, yet the margin after Saturday’s racing was 25 points.

“Shawn has worked hard and taken a great approach to learning,” said Yale Head Coach Zack Leonard. “He has taken advantage of the opportunity to learn from his experienced teammates. We try really hard to hand down the knowledge that the more experienced skippers and crews have developed and acquired over their years.”

Racing Saturday finished with 10 races sailed in each division. Yale held an un-catchable lead over Bowdoin and third placed Boston University. Sunday’s racing was extremely “light and volatile” making decision making extremely difficult for the Race Committee. Several races were called back as the breeze failed to cooperate. Late in the day the breeze filled out with a flat and firm southerly sea breeze.

Dartmouth showed they could hang with Yale in the lighter air as they scored 41 points to Yale’s 48 on Sunday. The Big Green worked their way up to a third place tie with Boston University and 5 points behind Bowdoin who were able to hold on in the variable conditions.

“The team has had a good year and we are looking forward to Newport,” said Bowdoin Head Coach Frank Pizzo. “We knew we had a good team this fall but we knew we had to do things differently this spring because we have have had some good fall seasons in the past followed by disappointing spring seasons.

“The current group on the team has really bought into the team mentality and is willing to do whatever is necessary for the team do well. It was a big deal for us to host this event and to be able to have a podium finish is terrific.

“We have not hosted often, but hosting can be a big distraction for the team and the coaching staff. I know I tuned-in less to practice the past week or two, simply trying to make sure we were ready to host the event. We are fortunate to have Cori Radtke as our assistant coach. She can handle a lot. We also had one of our top crews suffer a knee injury on Thursday before the event which prevented her from being available to participate.

“We have prepared to put ourselves in the hunt on Saturday of the regatta and then take advantage of the opportunities that presented on Sunday. The level is very high and incredibly even in the conference so we were fortunate to earn the result.We think our venue translates well to Newport so we should be well prepared for a wide variety of conditions. We are preparing for our team depth to help achieve strong results in Newport.”

Yale finished with 122 points, Bowdoin finished with 185 points, and Dartmouth and BU had 190. Boston College, Brown, Tufts, Coast Guard, and Connecticut College rounded out the top-9, in order and earned berths to the Coed Dinghy National Semi-final regatta.

The Camels of Conn College, sailing with two first-year skippers, CJ McKenna, sailing with Cecilia Moreira ‘20 and Walter Henry ‘22, and Thomas Whittemore with Paige Dunlevy ‘20, showed their metal hanging on to the ninth spot, even with highly ranked Harvard, Roger Williams, and MIT nipping at their heels.

“The Camels are excited to have qualified for the Coed Nationals,” said Connecticut College Head Coach Jeff Bresnahan. “In preparation for this event, we talked a lot about what each division would have to average to be the in hunt all weekend. Starting two freshman drivers we needed to give them a sense of how they were doing after each race.

“We jumped out with a handful of single digit finishes that allowed us to not worry when we had a few deep ones later on Saturday. Going to bed on Saturday with a qualifying spot really helped. With a shorter day of sailing on Sunday and light air, we felt we could manage our score and stay in the top group all day. Sunday was stressful but Tommy and CJ never let it get to them. They had our best crews Juniors Paige Dunlevy and Cecilia Moreira.

“The crews did a good job keeping it about one race at time. On Sunday we dropped to 10th, 3 points back from RW for a race. That was a moment that it could have gone bad real quick. Both boats realized we needed single digits races for the rest of the day.

“Their starts where solid and we put ourselves back in 9th and started near RW and Harvard for the rest of the day. Both drivers have been to so many big events in their sailing career that I think they did not let the bright lights get in the way of our team goals. One Camel!”

“I would also like to Thank the RC for putting us in the right spots to race at their venue. It is a new site for College sailing and the Home team made it a test of skill by working hard to find the best sailing areas.”


When the fleet left the dock at the America Trophy, hosted by the United States Naval Academy, the “wind was [west] 15-20 with gusts to 25 [knots]” according to the regatta report. After gusts reached 30 knots, the regatta was put on hold before the regatta went back out in z420s only.

The home team, Navy won the America Trophy behind a strong B-Division win by Joseph Hermus ‘22, Brittany Slook ‘20, Sean Linden ‘21, and Ana Mier ‘19. Hermus, Slook, Linden, and Mier took the lead in race 2B and did not give it up throughout the remaining 10 races in B-Division.

Navy’s B-Division boat finished in the top three in eight of the 12 races, yet only finished 6 points ahead of Hobart and William Smith’s Hector Guzman ‘20, sailing with Jake Vickers ‘22 and Maya Weber ‘20. Guzman, Vickers and Weber sailed equally well, finishing the final six races all with top-3 scores.

Like Navy, Hobart and William Smith’s B-Division boat was the driving force behind the HWS second place finish in the regatta.

“Our team has had a lot of strong showings in B at home over the past few year, so it was great to pull it off again this weekend,” said Navy Head Coach Ian Burman. “I was impressed with how we were able to win races in everything from 3-30 knots and in both types of boats.

“Hobart came on strong when the breeze moderated, but there were really a number of good boats out there and a lot of tight racing. I was really impressed with St. Mary’s in the breeze and with Georgetown all around. I think MAISA will be well represented at Nationals this year.”

For Hermus, a rookie, and Navy, one of the most storied programs around, the future looks very bright under Coach Burman.

Sunday’s racing at Navy was much like the NEISA Championships at Bowdoin. Postponement on land coupled with several races called back caused racing to develop slowly in radically different conditions to the day before.

Navy took the overall lead after race 1B and held the regatta lead throughout the event with one exception after race 5A. In a conference with Georgetown and HWS, not many expected such dominance from the Midshipmen of Navy.

“Navy hadn’t won the America Trophy since 1995,” said Burman, “so it was awesome to break through here at home. A number of Alums were around and it was great to see how psyched they were for the team.

“It’s always a challenge to carry momentum forward this time of year with almost a month off of competition and all of the distractions that come up with exams, graduation, meetings, briefs, and summer training. We’ll plan on getting on the water as much as possible and scheduling practices with other schools and local grads.

“Our team is still very hungry and motivated to build on our recent success and I know we’ll put in the work to be on top form in Newport.”

Liam McCarthy ‘19 with Kate Bjerregaard ‘19, Thomas Walker ‘21, and Kaisey McCallion of St. Mary’s finished first in A-Division. With the exception of one outlier, a 13th in race 6, the Seahawk boat produced all top-6 finishes including four top-3 finishes in the 12 races they sailed.

Navy finished with 98 points, HWS had 115 as did St. Mary’s. Georgetown finished 4th with 123, Fordham 5th at 147, ODU 6th with 153, UPenn had 198, Cornell had 200, and Kings Point rounded out the top-9 finishing with 222 points. All nine Mid-Atlantic teams qualified for the national semifinals regatta.

Notably, George Washington failed to crack the top-9 and therefore their coed season is over. They say avoiding alphabets in your scoreline is critical for fleet racing success, and GW had quite a few letters, including two BYEs which prevented opportunities to come back late in the event, an OCS and a DSQ.

The BYEs were a bit of bad luck as a bent rig in the breeze prevented the regatta from using all 18 boats. The OCS hurt a B-Division scoreline that was really keeping the Colonials in the regatta and the DSQ came when Andrew Sheerin ‘19 and Zachary Lehan ‘20, GW’s A-Division boat, hit a boat in B-Division and unsure of what to do, they did a 360. An umpire saw the incomplete penalty turn and took them to the room, resulting in a disqualification.

This series of misfortune caused the 14th ranked George Washington team, according to Sailing World, to be headed home for the summer early. Rest assured they’ll be back, raise high.

Stanford won the Pacific Coast (PCCSC) Coed Dinghy Championship decisively over University of California at Santa Barbara. The margin of victory between first and second was 25 after 22 races sailing, 11 in each division. Stanford ran away with it in B-Division behind the prowess of Jack Parkin ‘21 and Telis Athanasopoulos Yogo ‘22 sharing time on the tiller with Taylor Kirkpatrick ‘20 and Meg Gerli ‘19 crewing for each skipper, respectively.

Though Yogo and Gerli was impressive, Parkin and Kirkpatrick really showed their abilities, winning 5 of the 6 races they sailed. Stanford is deep and they showed that to their conference, winning both divisions handily with multiple skippers in B.

Jacob Rosenberg ‘20 with Katherine Booker ‘19 and Meg Gerli ‘19 won A-Division with 25 points and all top-5 finishes. Stanford may not have even sailed their best skipper as Romain Screve sat the weekend out in route to Stanford’s 10th straight PCCSC Coed Fleet Race Championship since Spring 2009 where techscore fails to record any regattas besides nationals.

University of California at Santa Barbara finished second with 68 points, University of Hawaii claimed third with 96 and California State University Long Beach finished 4th with 105 points.

University of Washington won the Northwest (NWICSA) Coed Champs, edging Western Washington by 1 point after 4 races sailed in each division. The regatta featured 5 total teams and qualified the top-2 to move on to the semifinals. A far cry from the depth of the NEISA and MAISA champs, the two qualifying teams were the only teams at the event that started and finished all 8 races sailed in the one day event.

Karl Skeel ‘20 and Avery Wolf ‘21 of University of Washington won A-Division with 8 points. Chandler Sharp ‘19 and Julia Soes ‘21 won B-Division win 5 points, finishing either first or second in all 4 races sailed.

University of Michigan won the Midwest (MCSA) Coed Championship with 54 total points after 11 races sailed in each division, edging Wisconsin by 7 points. Winning both divisions, the Wolverines showed the fleet racing ability.

Jenna Probst ‘22 and Margaret Carroll ‘21 won A-Division for Michigan with 26 points while Connor Goulet ‘21 and Sarah Silvestri ‘19 followed their teammates lead in the B-Division win. Neither Michigan boat finished outside the top-5.

The 11 team regatta advances 5 teams to the semifinals. After Wisconsin was Northwestern in 3rd, Minnesota in forth and Notre Dame in 5th.

Tulane won the Southeast (SEISA) Women’s Championship by 21 points over University of Texas, winning both divisions handily. Winning the first five races sailed in each division, their A-Division win came with 10 firsts in the 12 races sailed while their B-Division win came with a meager 7 firsts in 12 races sailed. Neither division for the Big Wave finished outside of the top-3.

Ciara Rodrigues-Horan ‘22 with Amelia Schofield ‘22 sailed the first nine races in A and won all but the ninth race. At that points, Rodriguez-Horan switched to the front of the boat where she, and Alanna Austin ‘21 closed out the division win.

Grace Siwicki ‘22 and Katherine Robinson ‘19 sailed in B-Division for Tulane’s big win.

The 6 team regatta qualifies 3 teams for the semifinals. Those teams are Tulane, Texas, and Texas A&M.

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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