Month: September 2012


2012 St. Mary’s Fall Intersectional

The weekend of September 22-23, 2012 the Penn Sailing Team traveled to St. Mary’s College of Maryland to participate in their Fall Interconference. From the beginning of the weekend we knew that this would be a competitive event, where we would measure up against several of the country’s best varsity teams.

Once we arrived at St. Mary’s facilities on Saturday morning we contemplated the beautiful weather conditions for the day ahead: clear skies, temperature in the 80s, and southerly wind ranging from 8 to 15 knots. With this in mind, we rigged our boats and set out on the water. Captain Mike Russom skippered A division, crewed by sophomore Patricia Andrade, while Co-Captain Christina Johns skippered B as I manned the front of the boat.

Saturday was a long, hard day with both divisions sailing 12 races sailed just out of. A division began in FJs while B sailed 420s, switching after nine races near the end of Saturday. The breezy conditions, along with some choppy water and strong competitors made for some great sailing. On most of the upwind legs, Christina and I hiked relentlessly to keep our 420 flat on the water and up to speed, while jumping from rail to rail on tacks. Mike and Patricia also gave their all in their effort to compete, while securing a few mid-fleet finishes on Saturday. By the end of the day we were exhausted from battling the wind and the waves, in addition to the opposing teams.

On Sunday morning, we returned to St. Mary’s to complete the last six races, with A division by now in 420s and B in FJs. Although the wind wasn’t as consistently strong as on Saturday, it proved to be a challenging and different day, with temperatures in the 60s, and large wind shifts that could make or break races. Midway through Sunday, Patricia and I exchanged places, so that she sailed the final three races with Christina and I with Mike. After a challenging morning this decision seemed to pay off, with Mike and I finishing in 3rd in our first race together and the girls also feeling more comfortable for the final set.

Overall, our experience at St. Mary’s showed us that Penn Sailing was capable of remaining in the fight against most of the other competitors, while we gained valuable time on the water as the Fall 2012 season comes into full speed.

To see the full results go to

Our women’s team will be back at St. Mary’s next weekend to compete in MAISA Women’s ACC Qualifier.

-Jose-Maria Barrero, ‘13


Going To War Memorial After MAISA Central Fall #1

This weekend, Mike Russom, Meaghan Harding, Jose-Maria Barrero and I traveled to Toms River, New Jersey to compete in the Central Fall Qualifier for the War Memorial Regatta later in the season. We arrived on Saturday to 10-15 knots of breeze from the northwest and were excited to get a good start to the regatta with three sets before lunch. Mike and Meg, who were sailing A division in Tech Dinghies, fared well in the shifty conditions and averaged sixth place. Jose and I started the regatta in 420s, and also maintained scores in the 5-7 range. After a quick lunch break, we headed back out and sailed fairly consistently into the late afternoon. After 9 races, we switched fleets, and Jose and I sailed one race in the Tech Dinghy before heading in for the day. Mike and Meg finished out the day strong with three top finishes in the 420.

Today, we returned excited to sail, but due to a lack of wind, the regatta was called at noon. We ended up sixth overall, which gets us a berth at the War Memorial Qualifier on the last weekend of October.

Full results can be found at

-Christina Johns, Co-Captain


Mike 5th At 1st Laser Qualifier

This weekend we opened the 2012 season at the U. S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. I traveled with Villanova’s Will Joumas to participate in the MAISA South Laser Event in an attempt to qualify for the Carl Van Duyne Trophy.

When I first arrived in Annapolis I was a little worried about the lack of laser sailing I did over the past summer. I tried hard to sail during my summer in New York but unfortunately I was limited to a few sessions of remote control laser racing in Central Park. While my fellow r/c racers would argue… I feel few things compare to actual time in the boat.

On Saturday morning, after a stop at Naval Bagels to fuel up, I rigged the Navy Laser in all its 6-to-1 vang glory and set out to the course in a building 8 knot Southerly. While the first few practice jibes were a little rough, I quickly regained a level of comfort in the boat and was able to post: 9, 3, 9, 5, 4, 5 before lunch. In the afternoon I really tried to focus on my downwind speed (an issue I had in the morning) as the breeze built. By the time we started the seventh race the breeze was up to approx. 15 knots as a huge cold front began to move in on the fleet. I was feeling strong and fast. At one point I was OCS but went back and was able to claw my way back to 8th overall. My finishes for the afternoon were: 4, 3, 8, 3.

At approximately 4PM the sky turned black and the call was made to return to shore to try and beat the approaching storm. I was feeling good after a strong last race and began reaching in alongside ODU’s Collin Leon. As we passed Severn Sailing Association, Collin and I speculated as to whether we would get in before the storm hit. I was pretty sure we would be okay but as we approached the Naval Academy seawall- I was wrong.

With the entire full-rig fleet and most of the radials still on the water we were hit with a 40-knot squall that some would only describe as “gnarly.” The temperature drop was amazing. Soon after we reached the Naval Academy seawall the lights turned off and we were blasted with violent shots of cool air. When the storm hit, it hit with force. I watched as every single radial was knocked over in front of me. Before I knew what happened my laser flipped and my favorite kaenon hat was gone to the wind. I was left perched on the side of the laser with one foot on the daggerboard and the other on the hiking strap. There I stayed for about 10 minutes trying to prevent the boat from turtling or righting itself in the 40+ knots of breeze. I learned that when it’s going nuts the best thing to do with a laser is lay the rig down and just try and ride out the storm. At points the rain was so intense I could not see Collin who was only 20 ft away! As soon as the breeze dropped down to 25-30 knots I righted the laser and finished the sail in. Thankfully everyone was ok as the Midshipmen did a great job keeping tabs on the flipped fleet throughout the squall. It was quite the end to my first day back in the boat!

On Sunday, my quads were happy to see 5-7 knots from the West. The beautiful September weather was very different from the overcast skies of the day before. Unfortunately, the nice weather brought out a lot of pleasure boat traffic so conditions were light and extra choppy on the Severn River. In the first race, I was surprisingly quick downwind. I had a mediocre start but was able to pick a few shifts and get back in the hunt. I rounded the windward mark for the second time in third and was able to pass two top sailors to win the first race of the day- it felt great. Unfortunately, this celebration was short-lived. I posted: 8, 6 before the wind completely shut off and a race was abandoned due to a lack of wind.

After an extended lunch / wind postponement, we went back out to give it one last go. I really struggled in the light breeze and boat chop. It wasn’t necessarily a speed issue; rather I just could not make a good tactical decision in the trying conditions to save my life. There was one point when I lost 7 boats on the downwind after rounding the second windward mark in 3rd and going to a side that I thought had more wind; it was extremely difficult sailing. In the end I finished 10, 10, 6 to complete the regatta.

I ended up 5th overall with a considerable margin to the 6th place finisher, George Prieto. Georgetown’s Chris Barnard took top honors at the regatta. The top six move finishers move on to the Carl Van Duyne so I’m excited to get to the next step in the singlehanded nationals qualification process.

Full Results:

Next week we will be at OCC trying to qualify for War Memorial Trophy!

-Mike Russom, Captain