CASTINE — The coronavirus pandemic has claimed another victim, though fortunately not an individual.
Last Friday, Maine Maritime Academy President William J. Brennan announced that the MMA Mariners would not compete in any intercollegiate athletics during the fall 2020 semester. Among the teams whose seasons will be canceled is the academy’s co-ed sailing team.
“This is obviously a huge loss for our athletes and the academy,” MMA sailing coach Tyler Martin said in a live post on the sailing team’s Facebook page Friday morning.
Martin called the decision to cancel the fall athletic seasons “difficult,” and “hopefully the correct one to ensure the safety of our athletes and make sure we can fulfill the fundamental academic goal here at the academy this fall.”
According to the announcement from MMA, the decision to scrub fall athletics came “after undertaking considerable discussions among staff and in consultation with the Mariners’ team physician” and with other members of the North Atlantic (NAC) and the New England Men’s and Women’s Athletic conferences (NEWMAC) in which academy teams compete. The announcement cited the health risks associated with travel by various teams.
Last fall, the Mariner dinghy sailors raced in 11 “away” regattas and hosted the Penobscot Bay Open in September while the offshore team hosted the Harman Cup. The big-boat sailors also raced at the Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta, hosted by the Larchmont (N.Y.) Yacht Club on Long Island Sound and the McMillan Cup hosted by the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. Roughly the same number of regattas were on the tentative schedule for the 2020 fall sailing season.
The Mariners have already missed out on spring racing.
After one regatta, held at the College of Charleston in February, was completed, the Intercollegiate Sailing Association canceled the 2020 spring regatta season.
According to Coach Martin, while there won’t be any intercollegiate sailing this fall, the Mariner sailing team will “still be on the water to prepare for next season.”
Speaking to the cancellation of the entire slate of intercollegiate competition, Brennan said, “As with all of the decisions we are making as we plan for the upcoming semester, we are following public health guidance and putting the health and well-being of the MMA community first.”
While there won’t be any formal competition for Mariner teams, they will not be disbanded.
“We will miss the fall athletics season immensely, as it is central to our community experience,” Brennan said. “However, our student-athletes will have the support they need to practice and train while adhering to safety guidelines and best practices.”