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Naval Academy flexes offshore muscle

Published on September 29th, 2019

For the first time since 2005, the U.S. Naval Academy Offshore Sailing Team won the U.S. Offshore Sailing Championship, with the 2019 edition held Septembr 27-29 in Annapolis, MD. Ten teams representing their respective US Sailing Areas from regions around the country competed in Navy 44 sloops on Chesapeake Bay.

This US Sailing National Championship featured a series of challenging offshore racing formats and distances designed to test the 10 teams at their overall offshore sailing skills. Focused on the core fundamentals of offshore racing, these teams were challenged in the areas of navigation, boat handling, teamwork, and basic fleet racing skills.

In the end, it was the home team helmed by Jonathan Hitt (Annapolis, Md.) from the U.S. Naval Academy Offshore Sailing Team taking first place honors and the Lloyd Phoenix Trophy. Crewing for the Naval Academy team was Christian Hoffman (Sandy Hook, Conn.), Ben Van Duyne (Riverside, Conn.), Sean Caraher (Annapolis, Md.), Hayden Expericueta (Annapolis, Md.), Ethan Falsone (Annapolis, Md.), Zack Bauer (Annapolis, Md.), and Matt McClelland (Cummings, Ga.).

After getting a fourth in the buoy race on day one, the Midshipmen took control of the regatta on the second day by winning both long distance race (22 nm) in the morning and the middle distance race (11 nm) in the afternoon. Following a sixth place finish in an early buoy race on day three, they won the all-important middle distance race (17 nm), the final race of the regatta, to win the Championship.

Hitt grew up boating in the Lake of the Ozarks, but did not get started in sailing until just before attending the Naval Academy. However, his bio now includes an extensive list of events such as the Marblehead to Halifax Race, Newport to Bermuda Race, and many of the weekend regattas along the northeast.

Placing second overall was Hanson Bratton (Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich.) representing Bayview Yacht Club of Area E and in third place was Glenn Doncaster (Raleigh, N.C.) of Area C and the Fishing Bay Yacht Club.

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