Written by Chris Klevan, Photos by Colin Grey Voight
The ICSA team race season is officially upon us. The Bob Bavier Team Race, sailed in Charleston, South Carolina, featured the now two-time defending Laser Performance College Team Race Champions, College of Charleston. However, the Cougars weren’t the headliners of their home event. It was Stanford and Yale that stole the show.
The 84 race regatta featured teams from the South Atlantic Conference, the Mid Atlantic, New England and the Pacific Coast. Despite light air throughout and dense fog on Sunday, the southern climate was a welcome change to teams traveling from further up the I-95 corridor.
“Conditions were classic open water choppy sailing on crab bank,” said Stanford Assistant Coach Clinton Hayes. “The wind stayed pretty light the whole regatta so we couldn’t sail in the river at all. I’d say light and choppy conditions dominated the regatta. Some shifts but pretty steady overall. Charleston did a great job getting so many races off and the umpire crew was the best I’ve ever seen at this event.”
Yale won the event with a 17-2 record while Stanford finished second, one race back at 16-3.
Yale started the event slow, losing two of their first 5 races. Harvard beat them with a 1-4-5 combination in Yale’s third race then Stanford won with a 1-2-4 in Yale’s fifth race. Yale finished the first round robin with a 6-2 record while Stanford went undefeated. However, the experienced Yale squad would find their stride as after race 28 of the 84 race regatta, Yale would lose no more races.
“A team effort,” said Yale Head Coach, Zack Leonard. “We had not practiced at all until we arrived in Charleston so we are just shaking off the rust and going around the course right now. Everyone is pretty inconsistent at this time of year. We are looking forward to getting some sailing done in Florida next week.”
“Yale was definitely good and got better as the regatta went on since it was some of their first few days on the water this spring,” continued Mr. Hayes. “Yale is going to be really tough to beat this season. They have 3 talented boats who sail fast and clean around the course. To be competitive in May we’ll need to continue to work on being fast in all conditions and continue to improve our boat handling. We always like our chances when it gets windy but we’ll need to be able to transition across all conditions as Newport is sure to have a little bit of everything.”
The Yale Bulldogs start three skippers consistently, Nic Baird ‘19, Shawn Harvey ‘21 and Nick Hernandez ‘19. The starting crews at the Bob Bavier were Sonia-Lingos Utley ‘21, Claudia Loiacono ‘21 and Catherine Webb ‘22. The only sailor missing from Yale’s typical crew was Junior, Graceann Nicolosi, one of the best crews in the country. For Stanford it was the usual suspects as well. Jacob Rosenberg ‘20, Jack Parkin ‘21, Romain Screve ’21, Kathryn Booker ‘19, Taylor Kirkpatrick ‘20, Sammy Pickell ‘22 and Meg Gerli ‘19.
“We sailed 3 boats across really well at this event,” continued Hayes. “Romain Screve and Sammy Pickell (also Meg Gerli sailed a few races when it got windier) are reliably the fastest boat on the water is all conditions so we have that to rely on but all 3 boats won their positions pretty consistently off the line and didn’t foul too much so it really was a team effort.”
“In general I think we came into the event with more practice then other teams which showed especially early in the regatta. We’re well aware that most teams haven’t sailed much so far this season and will get a lot better in the next few month. We had good boat handling, speed, and generally good starting. We can work more on some coordination on the 1st beat as well as sailing clean in tight situation especially when we’re already winning and in control of the race.”
The home team, Charleston finished 3rd with a 13-6 record. Unlike Stanford and Yale, there are a lot of questions surrounding the 2-time defending champs. As expected the Cougars were anchored by veterans Katie Lounsbury ‘20 and Augie Dale ‘19, the only returning starters from last year’s championship. Any team losing 4 of 6 starters should expect a drop-off. The question was how far would Charleston drop. The answer seems to be not too far. While they were swept 3-0 by Yale, Charleston won one of three against Stanford and 2 of 3 against a good Harvard team.
Many expected to see women’s phenom, Alie Toppa and Annabel Carrington in the team racing mix. She was indeed present at the Bob Bavier. However, in the final four, where Charleston put together an impressive 2-1 record against the top teams in the event, coach Ward Cromwell went with Steven Leuck ‘20 and Payton Alexander ‘19 along side Jack Brown, Hunter Skinner, Dale and Lounsbury.
Leuck and Alexander are unknowns on the college sailing circuit. The other boat, Jack Brown ‘21 and Hunter Skinner ‘20 have shown flashes. Next to Dale and Lounsbury, if the new faces to this team can learn from the championship experience present on this team, Charleston will surprise the critics for yet another spring team race season.
College of Charleston won the ODU Spring Women's narrowly over St. Mary’s College of Maryland and Cornell, 113 to 116 and 118, respectively. While the Cougars’ presumptive top boat, Alie Toppa and Annabel Carrington were team racing, Charleston showed their depth, winning the women’s interconference regatta nonetheless. The driving force behind the regatta win was Marian Frances Williams ‘21 and Elizabeth Mignon ‘19 in A-Division. The duo won the division by 10 points, finishing in the top-5 in all of the final 8 races of the event, including three first place finishes.
St. Mary’s B-division boat, Katherine Bennett ‘22 and Sophia Taczak ‘21 also impressed, winning the division by 15 points with no races outside the top-5 in the 12 race regatta.
In the Mid-Atlantic Conference, two 6-team team races were held together on the Potomac River, south of Washington DC. The GW Team Race and the Georgetown Team Race start the MAISA Team Race League, a cumulative regatta circuit to seed their conference championship and national qualifier in April.
Hobart and William Smith Colleges won the Georgetown Team Race with a 13-2 record while Georgetown won the GW Team Race with a 15-0 record. HWS and Georgetown represented half of last year’s team race final four. While both teams lost essential seniors from last year’s campaigns, most of the sailors remain present for this team race season. The question for both teams will be how they fill the void left by those who graduated last year.
For HWS, it was last year’s women’s A-division champ, Bailey Carter ‘19 who got the call early alongside Charles Miller ‘19, Lindsey Kloc ‘19, Hector Guzman ‘20 and Maya Webber ’20 in the Georgetown Team Race. Carter, sailing with Kyle Easton ‘20 sailed the first two round robins in entirety. HWS finished with a 8-2 record in those two rounds with a loss to ODU in the first round and a loss to Navy in the second round. However, coach Scott Ikle made a change in the final round robin, sailing Kyle Easton as skipper with Anna Flaherty ‘20. HWS went undefeated in this round, winning handily over Fordham, Kings Point and NY Maritime with 1-2-3 finishes each, a 1-2-4 over ODU and a 1-2-5 finish over Navy.
“Georgetown is going to be vying for a national championship,” said Cornell Head Coach Brian Clancy. Georgetown won the GW Team Race handily. They beat all other 5 teams at the event with a 1-2-3 combo at least once. The Hoyas finished with a 1-2-x in 14 of the 15 races they sailed. The only other race they finished in the super stable 2-3-4 combination. Andy Reiter ‘19, with Haley Shea ‘19 and Claire Mohun ‘19, is much more than just a suitable replacement for last year’s starter and graduating senior, Roger Dorr. The emergence of Reiter as a great team race skipper makes this Hoya team extremely dangerous next to two of the best sailors in the nation, Sean Segerblom ‘20 and Will Logue ‘20. Segerblom, Logue and Reiter are as formidable a starting 3 as any team can put together. The three skippers alongside an excellent group of crews with now ample experience, Caroline Teare ‘21, Rebecca Fung ‘19, Gynie Dunlevy ‘20, Shea and Mohun make this Hoya team as good as any team out there.