Fresh and ready to finish the season strong!
JACKSONVILLE, FL (April 26-27, 2014): NC State's Co-ed Sailing Team earned a berth to the end-of-the-year SAISA Co-Ed Conference Championships after finishing the regular season ranked 3rd in SAISA North. This season's appearance marks the third consecutive year that NC State has sailed at co-ed champs, with this year's squad facing the top 10 teams in SAISA for a possible berth to National Championships. Wolfpack sailors were joined in Jacksonville by fellow SAISA North teams UNC-Wilmington, Georgia Tech, Clemson, and last year's conference champions, the College of Charleston. SAISA South was represented by USF, Eckerd College, Rollins College, Jacksonville University, and New College of Florida.
Jacksonville Coach Jon Faudree addresses the SAISA crowd at the start of the 2-day Champs regatta
Hosted by Jacksonville University on their waterfront on the St. John River, sailors were welcomed to Florida with great hospitality, sunny skies and 80+ degree temperatures. In the morning's light breeze, NC State's A-Fleet senior skipper Benton Morton (Wilmington, NC) and junior crew Jill Tucker (Jamestown, NC) got off to a great start taking 4th in the first race of the day. A and B-Fleets would sail another race each following this and as the wind died down, race organizers called a delay until the afternoon sea breeze would arrive to reconvene.
Drones! Get used to seeing these eyes in the sky at future college regattas. Buzzz!
By the close of the morning session, NC State was tied for 7th in the standings. This would prove to be a key stat throughout both days as the final top 6 teams from this regatta would qualify for a berth to Nationals held in late May at the US Naval Academy and St. Mary's College of Maryland. During the delay, all of the sailors, coaches, families and friends at the regatta enjoyed some distraction on the great sunny lawn and waterfront at JU; not exactly a bad place to kill some time waiting.
Racing underway on day 1 of the 2-day SAISA Conference Championships on the St. John River in Jacksonville, Florida
Around 2:15 PM, teams returned to the water in an easterly breeze and ripping current. Junior skipper and Race Team captain David Rogers (Mt. Pleasant, SC) and sophomore crew Paulina Spencer (Raleigh, NC) got back in the mix upon their return with their high watermark for the day and a fourth place finish in the second B-Fleet race of the day. After six full races completed in each fleet, NC State found themselves once again in 7th position without company this time after two brief flirtations with sixth position. The Wolfpack would start Sunday morning just two points behind New College of Florida, coached by former SAISA and USF standout Hillary Noble. USF, Charleston and Eckerd would finish Saturday atop the leader-board.
Senior skipper Benton Morton (Wilmington, NC) and team captain junior skipper David Rogers (Mt. Pleasant, SC) discuss changing conditions and the fickle breeze.
With an early start Sunday morning, race organizers were able to complete two additional races in each division, as well as a 9th race in A-Fleet which would be dropped before calling the regatta for the day. Shifty, light wind and a ripping current prevented the race committee from getting any further races in and still get students back on the road at a reasonable hour. The Bulls of South Florida closed out the regatta holding first place outright from the fourth race of Saturday after a challenge by the College of Charleston. At the completion of the regatta, NC State sailors finish in 7th position, just two points out of sixth, within such close reach of their first ever berth to Nationals.
"Although it's tough to miss accomplishing a great achievement like reaching Nationals, we've got to recognize that we far exceeded both expectations and our team goals for this season," said NC State head coach Dana Magliola. "Being there and coming so close really reminds our sailors that we can compete with anyone. They have that taste of what's possible that will keep us working and training in the off-season - and pushing hard for Nationals this coming season." Full scores are available HERE.
Following the close of the spring championships, representatives from each team in the conference pick berths in the upcoming season's schedule. These berths are given in order of final standings at Champs. NC State finished in 7th and was able to secure a berth to the Hood Trophy fleet race hosted by Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts this Fall. This will be the first time an NC State team has competed in a NEISA event. Stay tuned for the final Fall 2014 Regatta schedule to be released.