Penn’s best-ever finish in a Spring MAISA Championship qualifies them for ICSA Nationals
What a weekend for the Penn Sailing Team – what a year, in fact. As I write this, I think back on the past year and how far the team has come in such a short time. Sorely missing our strong senior leadership from last year, it was a hard road for us to travel to get to this point. But we’ve finally made it, everyone; here’s how it happened.
This past weekend I traveled with Mac Agnese, Patricia Andrade, Catie Hopkins, Meaghan Harding, and Joe Farned to Kings Point for the second weekend in a row. This time, it wasn’t for a competitive 3-division intersectional, but for our conference championship, which is the qualifier for the first round of the ICSA National Championship. It was no longer time for practice and focusing on improvement, but time for performance. Each and every team was bringing their A-game to perhaps the most competitive America Trophy in the history of MAISA. The top 8 teams would earn a spot to the Co-ed Semifinals; the remaining 10 would end their competitive seasons there.
We drove up to New York City on Friday evening and ate at a delicious Long Island diner before heading off to bed for a good night’s rest at the hotel. Saturday dawned rainy and chilly, but the sun was beginning to come out by the time we hit the water around 10:00. Pati and I held down A-Division while Mac and Catie took on B-Division. The first few races for both fleets were light and shifty, which led to some up-and-down races for many teams. Pati and I heeded the words of our coach Johnny Norfleet and tried to minimize mistakes which led to us sailing 4 consistent races in the morning before lunch. Meanwhile, Mac and Catie jumped out of the gate in B-Division with a 2, 5 to start the day. The race committee managed to get two more B-Division races in while A-Division ate lunch on shore, in which Mac and Catie sailed another great set of 7, 2. Then the fleets switched and Pati and I were able to sail two more consistent A-Division races before the wind completely shut off and we waited on the water for the breeze to fill. We experienced a variety of weather conditions including heat, cold, sun, rain, and even a rainbow, but consistent breeze was not among them. Around 5:30 the race committee gave up and sent the fleets in for the day. After six A-Division races and four B-Division races, we were sitting in 6th place, just ten points out of third. Saturday was also Mac’s birthday. His mom, who came all the way from Florida just to see us, generously offered to treat us to dinner on Saturday night – thanks again Mrs. Agnese!
Sunday brought much stronger breeze and abundant sunshine, with winds varying from 10 to 18 knots. The race committee decided that there would be lunch on the water so as to minimize downtime and allow B-Division to make up their two race deficit. Both Mac and I came out of the gate strong and moved up to third at one point during the day. The conditions were extremely challenging: the breeze was strong but very shifty, and the waves often came from multiple directions at once due to the strong and unpredictable current for which Kings Point is infamous. This made for thrilling but difficult competition in both divisions. Around race 12, Pati switched in with Mac due to increasing breeze strength while I took Meg to sail the 420. After 10 challenging races in A-Division and a whopping 12 B-Division races on Sunday, the 4:00 time limit expired and the regatta was finished with 16 races in each division.
After all was said and done, the team placed an extremely impressive 5th overall, bolstered by Mac’s tremendous performance in B-Division in which he tied for 1st! We couldn’t be happier with our result, not only because we know that we gave it our best and performed well, but also because we punched our ticket to Nationals for the first time in over 5 years! The Quakers are back!
At the awards ceremony afterwards, the MAISA All-Conference Awards were presented. Mac was named to the Second Team All-MAISA for Co-ed, and was one of only ten co-ed skippers to be named All-Conference this year. Congrats to Mac!
At such a critical point in the season, there are so many people that I want to thank. I won’t do them all here (you’ll have to wait for our newsletter!), but first I do want to take the opportunity to thank our coach Johnny Norfleet for doing such a great job with the team this season and helping us get to the next level. I also want to thank all of the parents and friends of Penn Sailing who helped us along the way this past year –especially the Swikart Family, the Harding Family, and the Landy Family, who graciously housed the team on multiple occasions this year.
And of course, I want to thank all of the members of the Penn Sailing Team. From long rides in the old minivan, to no-breeze practice days on the Delaware, to always making time for team meetings, you all deserve tons of credit for this accomplishment. You’ve made your captain so proud.
Make sure to follow the team as we head for Nationals next month! We’ll be periodically posting updates to our Facebook page, as well as updating here during the regatta. The first round of the 2014 ICSA Nationals at St. Mary’s College of Maryland starts on June 3rd. See you all then!
Jack Swikart ‘15
Captain, Penn Sailing Team
Full scores from the regatta can be found on Techscore (click here for link)
Photo Credit to Larry Kennedy