CHARLESTON, SC (September 10-11, 2016): The fall intercollegiate sailing season kicked off for the NC State Wolfpack at the 2016 SAISA Open hosted by the College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina. This season 18 teams competed representing both North and South divisions of the SAISA conference. Sailors raced FJs, and Z420s in just their second season in college sailing. The team was also joined by longtime volunteer and friend of the program Laura Doupnik as a guest coach (and the most gracious host) for the weekend.
NC State sailors Kara Wheeler and Carly Pedron flatten the FJ in light chop and good breeze.
Racing on Saturday began with shifty 4-5 mph westerly breeze and choppy waters right under the USS Yorktown. A-fleet sophomore skipper Travis Tucker (Boone, NC) and sophomore crew Elizabeth Blenk (Johnstown, OH) started the regatta on day one in the Z420 fleet while junior skipper Kara Wheeler (Oriental, NC) and Junior crew Carly Pedron (Antibes, FR) raced in the FJ fleet. The first set of three races resulted in inconsistent scores for all 18 teams, reflective of the quirky and inconsistent conditions of the morning.
NC State sailors and coaches celebrate a great regatta to kick off the 2016 Fall season!
After lunch the wind filled in from the south with a more consistent 8-10 mph seabreeze. NC State sailors shook off a slow start and came out guns-blazing in the afternoon. With the direction of the current and the multiple general recalls resulting in I-flags, many teams were staying two-three boat lengths away from the starting line, yet NC State’s A-fleet aggressively pursued competitive starts, even attempting a daring dip start, which resulted in collisions (and conveniently, yet still another general recall). After completing 9 races for the day NC State held 7th place in the field of 18 teams.
NC State's Travis Tucker and Elizabeth Blenk at the offset during Saturday's racing
“Unstable and disappearing breeze in the morning was not the best way to work the cobwebs out of our system from the offseason,” said NC State head coach Dana Magliola. “When we got back on the water after the wind delay, our team was aggressive and made great decisions on the racecourse. They battled back, finished the day in a great position, then never let go on Sunday.”
Racing continued on Sunday with similar conditions to Saturday morning with light breeze with puffs up to 5 mph out of the west. Full of confidence from the previous day of sailing, NC State’s A-fleet sailors attacked the racecourse and secured their 7th place position while outpacing Clemson and finishing just behind the University of South Carolina. In B-fleet, NC State made great strides throughout the afternoon and early on Sunday to overtake the University of Miami also finishing the regatta also 7th in their individual fleet. For the entire regatta, NC State earned a 7th position overall just behind the University of South Florida, finishing 3rd highest of all SAISA North teams competing.
“The team was really resilient and when we came out of the gates after that wind delay, we were racing fast and smart,” said Wolfpack skipper Kara Wheeler.
Wolfpack A-fleet crew (and regatta recap reporter!) Elizabeth Blenk and skipper Travis Tucker rig up before racing on Saturday
The NC State team left Charleston in great spirits after earning a 7th place finish over the challenging two-day regatta. In what is (we believe) the highest finish for NC State at a SAISA Open event, the NC State SailPack has enthusiastically kicked off what is shaping up to be a very promising sailing season. For full scores from this regatta, visit: http://scores.collegesailing.org/f16/saisa-open. Many thanks to Coach Fisher and the College of Charleston Cougars for hosting a well-run regatta, and many thanks to the always-awesome Laura Doupnik for hosting and coaching the team during their time in Charleston.
This SailPack Regatta Recap is submitted this week by sophomore crew and aeronautical engineering-major Elizabeth Blenk.