2022-2023 Season Recap: SAISA Champs NC State Return to ICSA Nationals

The 2022-2023 season has come to a close and NC State Sailing continues to push the limits for the Wolfpack program. With a return trip to Nationals for both coed and women's squads, the Wolfpack repeated as SAISA Conference Champs, all the while traveling more than 27,000 miles from New England to California, to south Florida to compete in thirty-six competitive, intercollegiate regattas over the course of the fall and spring seasons. Here's a recap of the past year:

College Sailing Nationals NC State

Spring 2023 started big for the NC State Wolfpack sailing team with a win at the opening regatta, the 2023 SAISA Spring Open hosted at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, defeating the top 17 teams in the SAISA Conference. This win positioned the Wolfpack at the top of the SAISA standings from the very beginning of the season. From there the team progressed through the spring with podium finishes in three of the remaining four in-conference events, keeping their first-place position in conference fleet race standings wire-to-wire throughout the season. For team racing, the Wolfpack competed in four team race events this past spring including securing second-place position at March's Turner Team Race hosted by The Citadel in Charleston, and a fifth place finish in both the annual Mendelblatt Open at USF in St. Petersburg, FL, and fifth overall at SAISA Team Race Championships in April. This season was also the first time NC State has competed in intercollegiate women's team racing with the "Ladypack" finishing fourth overall out of five but learning a ton in the process. (Expect to see NC State's women right in the team racing mix in the spring of 2024.) In interconference competition, the Wolfpack had a busy and successful spring season. The Women's squad competed at the Navy Women's Spring Fleet Race and finished 8th overall in a field of 18 of the top women's teams in the nation. The coed squad traveled to Hampton Roads and earned a podium, second-place finish at the 2023 Hanbury Cup hosted by CNU where only a last set surge from Princeton bumped the Pack from the win at this year's Hanbury. The Wolfpack also hosted two interconference regattas this spring, the inaugural Azalea Bowl Regatta in Wrightsville Beach, and the annual Sailpack Oriental Intercollegiate Regatta in Oriental, NC. Wolfpack sailors finished 4th in the Azalea Bowl with Wilmington native skipper Jacob Usher (So.,) and crew Jacob Friend (So., Raleigh, NC) winning B-Division over two strong UCLA and Jacksonville University squads. At the gem of the spring, the SailPack Oriental Intercollegiate Regatta, the host Wolfpack entered three different squads and finished the regatta in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, with the Jacksonville Fins securing the regatta win. Conditions at in Oriental this year were epic and adventure ensued was matched only by the hospitality of the community and amazing North Carolina BBQ. As always, Towndock.Net captures it far better than we can do justice here. 

Wrapping the spring season the Wolfpack competed at the SAISA Spring Open (Coed) Conference Championship, and secured the overall regatta win (for the second year in a row!), earning the Richard Tillman Trophy for the SAISA Open (Coed) Fleet Race Champs. On the water, the Wolfpack tied for first in A-Division, and won B-Division with gusto, securing the overall regatta victory by a 16 point margin over the nearest competitor, the University of Miami. By winning the SAISA Conference Championship for The Tillman Trophy, NC State secured a berth to ICSA College Sailing Open (Coed) National Championship Regatta. This was the second season in a row that NC State has won the SAISA Conference title and third year in a row the Wolfpack has earned a berth to ICSA Nationals.  NC State’s women’s team also put together an outstanding season with a win at the SAISA Women’s Open, and strong finishes at both of Atlantic Coast Championship Tournament’s showcase events. Although they finished third in SAISA Women’s Conference Championships, the team was selected by the ICSA Championship Committee for an at-large berth to the ICSA College Sailing Women’s National Championship Regatta. This was the second year in a row that NC State’s women’s squad has been selected to compete at Nationals. (NC State sailors were also recognized in the conference for their outstanding athletic performances throughout the past year including First and Second Team All-SAISA Skippers, and Crew! More on that here.)

The 2023 ICSA College Sailing National Championship Regattas were held at the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) at Kings Point, New York from May 23 through June 2. The women’s championship regatta was held first in two equal semi-finals, Eastern and Western, with NC State competing as the 24th seed overall and 12th seed in their semifinal. With light conditions on the Long Island Sound and more than enough current, the NC State women began the regatta with results at both ends of the field from 17th in the first race to a 2nd place finish in the second race. As conditions deteriorated throughout the remainder of the day, some races were abandoned and eventually, the Race Committee held sailors on shore for a brief postponement before finishing the day with two races in each division for a total of six races for day one. NC State’s women finished day one in 10th position, within striking distance of the top 9 and qualifying for Women’s Finals. Conditions on day two of the ICSA Women’s Nationals semifinals were less than cooperative with a lengthy on-shore postponement for sailors until nearly 3pm in the afternoon. As a southerly breeze began to build, the race committee was able squeeze in two races before calling the event. Aiming to move up, aggressive starts (and unfortunate over early situations) were costly and left the Wolfpack clawing back throughout the first set and eventually finishing the day in 11th overall. Stanford University would go on to win the 2023 ICSA Women’s National Championship trophy. Representing NC State at women’s Nationals was Olivia Sowa (Jr., Hollywood, MD), Abby Scudder (Jr., Swansboro, NC), Isa du Plessis (Jr., Ft. Lauderdale, FL), Annika Milstien (So., Tampa, FL), Weatherley Tripp (Sr., Concord, NC), and J.C. Minchew (So., Clinton, NC). Despite falling short of qualifying for finals, the NC State Women’s team (which began in 2013) outperformed expectations and delivered an outstanding season across national and regional competition. In the fall of 2023, NC State’s women’s squad returns 10 of 11 student-athletes, having only graduated one senior this past season.   


Following the women’s semifinals and finals, as well as coed team racing championships, the ICSA College Sailing Open (Coed) National Championship semifinals began on May 30th. NC State’s coed squad entered the event as the 28th overall seed and 14th seed in the Eastern semifinals. Again at Kings Point's Long Island Sound waterfront, solid breeze, chop and current greeted sailors on day one of the event. Wolfpack sailors began the event midfleet and continued to fight current and traffic throughout the day. After a challenging second set, the Wolfpack squad began to find a groove and moved up to 14th including a third place finish in the final A-division race of the day. As day two began, the breeze continued to overdeliver on the forecast and the race committee was able to finish three additional sets of quality races in which NC State would continue to battle for position with the Terriers of Boston University and the host Kings Point Mariners. After thirteen races in each division, the NC State Wolfpack coed squad finished 15th just seven points shy of the Terriers and unfortunately too far south of the top 9 to qualify for finals. NC State was represented at coed Nationals by Adam Larson (Jr., Charlotte, NC), Sean Harris (Jr., Wilmington, NC), Isa du Plessis (Jr., Ft. Lauderdale, FL), Olivia Sowa (Jr., Hollywood, MD), Jacob Usher (So., Wilmington, NC), Jacob Friend (So., Raleigh, NC), Harrison Bailey (Sr., Westfield, NJ), and Robert Chase (Fr., Norfolk, VA).  

Although the Wolfpack season would end at National’s semifinals for both the women’s and coed squads, it was a remarkably successful campaign including competing in thirty-six regattas this past fall and spring, winning 3 events including back-to-back SAISA Conference titles, and securing a podium finish in 13 of the 36 events. The 2022-23 season also marks the first full year in which NC State has been classified as a Cross-Regional team, the upper tier of college sailing (similar to NCAA D1, D2, D3). These levels were introduced into college sailing in 2020. NC State also continued to deliver against traditional rivals going 18-7 against Duke and UNC this year, pushing the Pack’s overall 10-year win percentage to 70.4% against the various shades of blue – including a nearly 83% win rate against the Tarheels. The Wolfpack looks poised to reload for a strong 2023-24 campaign after graduating only 4 of the current 26 student-athletes on the roster, as well as welcoming in several noteworthy recruits in the incoming freshman class. The fall 2023 college sailing season begins on September 9th as NC State travels to Charleston, South Carolina to compete as the top seed in the 2023 SAISA Top 9 Invitational Regatta hosted by the College of Charleston. The Wolfpack will host two home regattas in Raleigh in the fall season, the SailPack Women’s Intercollegiate Regatta presented by the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance on September 30-October 1; and the 7th Annual Triangle Tango Intercollegiate on November 11-12th. Both events are hosted at Lake Crabtree, the Wolfpack home venue in Raleigh. The Sailpack will also return to Oriental, NC in April 2024 to host the 8th annual SailPack Oriental Intercollegiate Regatta. More information about the NC State Sailing team and the upcoming regatta schedule can be found at go.ncsu.edu/sailing.   


Do you like this post?

SailPack Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization registered in the State of North Carolina.
Contributions are tax-deductible, however we advise that you contact your tax professional for guidance, direction, or further details. 


Sign in with Facebook, Twitter or email.