Sailing concludes final season with trio of national competitions

Media Credit: File Photo by Arielle Bader

The COVID-19 pandemic pushed the Singlehanded Championship from this past fall to earlier this month.

Sailing is competing in a trio of national championships to round out the program’s final season as a varsity sport.

After the conclusion of the Intercollegiate Sailing Association Singlehanded National Championship, the teams are now looking ahead to the Women’s Nationals on May 19 and 20, the Team Racing Nationals on June 1 and 2 and the Coed Nationals on June 7 and 8.

“It’s a great thing in this year that’s been very difficult both with COVID and with the streamlining process that athletics went through for us to be competing in not just one nationals but multiple,” junior Mikaela Smith said. “It’s really impressive and it’s something that we’re all very excited about.”

The remaining regattas will mark the end of an era for the program, which will lose its varsity status because of the University’s streamlining efforts announced last summer. Despite the end of the program, junior Matt Logue said that he is trying not to let the looming change affect his mindset on the water.

“I don’t want to look at it any differently,” Logue said. “Obviously things are going to be different, we might not be as privileged as we are now but you can’t really look at that from my point of view.”

The Colonials had three sailors hit the water in the Singlehanded National Championship May 1 and 2. Senior Soenke Jordan led the way for GW with a 17th place finish in the men’s division, while juniors Michael Ehnot and Matt Priebe took home 20th and 26th respectively.

The Singlehanded Championship is normally held during the fall but was pushed back to the spring of 2021 because of the pandemic. The event also requires qualification, but the competition was amended to an open, bring your own boat format, according to the ICSA website.

Junior Charlotte Rose of Jacksonville University won the women’s title while Georgetown University sophomore Thomas McCann finished atop the men’s division.

Sailing, which is concluding its ninth year and final year at the varsity level, captured its highest finish in program history at the ICSA Sperry Women’s National Championship in 2019 at fourth overall. The 2020 season was cut short as the squad worked through growing pains of a younger roster.

Junior Sarah Hardee said dealing with COVID-19 protocols this season has been difficult, but the team has been “very lucky” to avoid any outbreaks within the program. On top of the protocols, a number of student-athletes on the sailing program opted-out of the spring season due to the circumstances of the pandemic.

Travel restrictions and concerns over contracting the coronavirus led the Colonials to a limited slate that included just nine events in the spring. During the spring of 2019, the program’s last full campaign, sailing competed in 21 meets.

Prior to the Singlehanded Championship, the team kicked off its season with a meet at St. Mary’s College of Maryland that also featured Boston College March 6 and 7. In the last Singlehanded Championship held in 2019, Seahawks sophomore Leo Boucher won the men’s division while Eagles junior Sophia Reineke triumphed in the women’s division.

The Colonials’ first unit, comprised of Jordan, Logue, junior Allison Forsyth and sophomore Ruby Gordon, notched the best overall score on the first day. Senior John Deruff said early-season regattas are important for the team to prepare itself for national championship competitions and he’s glad the group still had some opportunities to test themselves despite a condensed schedule.

GW continued to enjoy strong form throughout the month of March, with its second unit taking first place at the Seahawk Colonial Showdown March 20. A week later, the Colonials nabbed the top spot on the podium again at the Aaron Szambecki Team Race. The first boat, skippered by Logue, Jordan and Priebe, topped St. Mary’s, Jacksonville and Old Dominion en route to the win.

The Navy Quad Races April 10 and 11, the last tune-up before championship meets began, proved more difficult for the squad. GW placed fourth and seventh out of nine entrants in the fleet race and finished third and fifth in the team racing format.

During the MAISA Qualifiers April 17 and 18, the women finished in fourth place overall to earn an automatic berth to the College Sailing Women’s Nationals. The Colonials’ coed team did not earn an automatic bid to the Gill College Sailing Coed Nationals but was awarded an at-large place in the tournament, giving the sailors a prolonged chance to practice and make the most out of their final season of varsity status.

“I think since there are no distractions, everyone is done with school, and this is a time when everyone can focus solely on training,” Logue said. “It’ll really help us and prepare us for women’s nationals and coed nationals coming up in two weeks time.”

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