MMA sailing season ends at Kennedy Cup regatta



The Kennedy Cup fleet sails a downwind leg on Chesapeake Bay Sunday afternoon in the final race of the Kennedy Cup regatta.  U.S. NAVAL ACADEMY OFFSHORE SAILING TEAM PHOTO
The Kennedy Cup fleet sails a downwind leg on Chesapeake Bay Sunday afternoon in the final race of the Kennedy Cup regatta.
U.S. NAVAL ACADEMY OFFSHORE SAILING TEAM PHOTO

CASTINE — A Maine Maritime Academy intercollegiate sailing season that began in turmoil ended on a positive note last weekend with some strong sailing at the U.S. Naval Academy in the Kennedy Cup regatta and new leadership in the coach’s office.

Sailing seven races over three days, the Mariners finished eighth overall in the intercollegiate national big boat sailing championships. After four races, though, MMA was in the top half of the fleet and had a third-place finish to its credit in the first race of the day on Saturday.

Last weekend, 10 teams from around the country — including last year’s champion, College of Charleston — were in Annapolis to contest the Kennedy Cup.

According to Navy sailing coach Jahn Tihansky, the regatta chairman, two races were sailed on Friday in “a beautiful southerly” that blew steadily in the 14- to 16-knot range. Navy led all the way in the first race, while California Maritime squeezed past a couple of boats to earn second. The Mariners hit a mark on the course and were penalized one point after placing sixth.

In the second race, Cal and Navy exchanged places while URI took third again.

Saturday was the best of days and the worst of days for the Mariners.

Racing began late in the morning, once a promised breeze actually filled in from the northwest. Navy won the first of the day’s three races, and MMA sailed a clever race, and finished third, the team’s best performance of the weekend. Things promptly went south, with the Mariners finishing seventh, then 10th, in the day’s two final races.

Sunday, Tihansky said, offered “ideal conditions for competitive, heart in your throat racing.” Unfortunately, those conditions saw the Mariners finish seventh and eighth, respectively, in the two final races of the regatta.

When the spray settled after the last race, which began with a general recall at the start, Cal Maritime took home the silver, finishing one point ahead of Navy to win this year’s intercollegiate big boat championship.

College of Charleston, last year’s winner, finished just one place ahead of MMA.

A prior commitment kept Caroline McNally, MMA’s just hired sailing coach, from traveling with the team last weekend, but she already has plans for a winter sailing program with an eye toward the 2016 spring and summer season. Of the eight students who raced on the big boat team in Annapolis, only two — team captain Steven Bell and Alison Mitchell — are seniors. The rest of the crew, and a promising group of dinghy sailors, should return to the water next year.

Stephen Rappaport

Stephen Rappaport

Waterfront Editor at The Ellsworth American
Stephen Rappaport has lived in Maine for nearly 30 years. A lifelong sailor, he spends as much time as possible messing about in boats. [email protected]

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