Sailing breaks into season with first-place finish, two championship qualifications

Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo by Arielle Bader | Assistant Photo Editor

Senior sailor Sarah Noyes crews a boat during practice last May.

Sailing opened the season with a first-place finish and two qualifying spots at the Mid-Atlantic Intercollegiate Sailing Association Men’s Singlehanded Championship last week.

The Colonials nabbed first at the Riley Cup and sixth at the Navy Women’s Regatta, and two sailors captured qualifying spots in the MAISA Men’s Singlehanded Championship. Sailors said the first competitions of the season allowed them to shake off the rust from the offseason and gave new sailors some starter experience heading into the rest of the season.

“It’s very long, mental days,” senior Sarah Noyes said. “You’re out there all day, so it was getting back in the swing of that.”

GW beat out 17 teams – four of which ended the 2018-19 season ranked in the top 20 coed programs in the Intercollegiate Sailing Association – to earn the top spot at the Riley Cup. The squad nabbed six top-three finishes and never finished outside of the top eight throughout the competition.

Senior Marshall McCraw and sophomore Taylor Milefchik manned the A Division of the competition while sophomores Ryan Janov and John Umina headed the B Division. McCraw said the team struggled to remain at the start line throughout the competition, flagging the weakness as an area for improvement throughout the rest of the season.

The women’s team competed at the Navy Women’s Regatta and garnered a sixth-place finish. Senior duo Aitana Mendiguren and Noyes manned the boat in the A Division while sophomore Chiara Perotti Correa and a trio of freshmen saw action in the B Division.

Mendiguren and Noyes earned a fifth-place finish in the A Division and secured five top-five finishes. The B Division team also took fifth place with 130 points.

Freshmen Sylvia Fresco and Ruby Gordon and sophomore Allison Forsyth joined the squad for the 2019-20 season. The team returned 15 sailors, including eight sophomores, three juniors and four seniors. The Colonials lost 13 sailors to graduation last spring.

Noyes, a senior, said losing members of the Class of 2019 led to a “big cultural shift” this season. She said that while the team feels pressure and expectations to meet their success from last season, the freshman class and returning members of the team are adequately filling the gaps.

The women’s team closed the 2018-19 season with a fourth-place finish – its highest finish in program history – at the Intercollegiate Sailing Association Sperry Women’s National Championship.

“We have a lot of new energy coming on the team and they’re all amazing and super eager to learn, so it’s just kind of keeping that momentum going,” Noyes said.

In the third and final competition over the weekend, junior Soenke Jordan and sophomore Cameron Feves punched their tickets to the MAISA Men’s Singlehanded Championship. Jordan, who has qualified for the championship for three consecutive years, finished No. 4. Feves, who qualified last year, nabbed sixth place at the event.

Sophomore Michael Ehnot failed to qualify with an 11th-place finish at the championship but earned a spot at the MAISA Laser Eliminator Sunday. Freshman Owen Timms also qualified with a third-place finish. The Colonials will send four sailors to the championship.

Jordan said his preparation for the event started in the summer, and he relied on his knowledge of the boat type and the venue at the Naval Academy to nab his third qualifying spot.

“It’s a very difficult sailboat because that’s the one they also sail in the Olympics, and I knew the venue pretty well because we have a pretty good knowledge set about the Naval Academy and how those boats work and how the venue works,” Jordan said.

Jordan added that while he raced methodically and consistently, he should have been more aggressive throughout the competition and not held a conservative mindset because he could have upped his place.

“What can go into it still is being aggressive in the times where the situation calls for it and taking calculated risks more,” Jordan said. “I could have gotten third at that event, but I opted to stay a little too conservative. That may have been the reason I slipped down to fourth.”

Sailing is back in action at the MAISA Top Nine Fleet Race and the MAISA Men’s Singlehanded Championship Saturday and Sunday.

Belle Long contributed reporting.

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