Championship Weekend #1: Women’s and Freshman Champs, Leadership, and more!

Another exciting weekend for the Middlebury Panthers sailing team!

This year’s NEISA Women’s Championship, the Reed Trophy, was hosted by Brown University at Edgewood Yacht Club. Seventeen of NEISA’s teams sent their top female sailors to compete for the Reed Trophy. Knowing that the competition would be stiff, featuring some of NEISA and college sailing’s top sailors, the Panthers prepared for a tough regatta.

Unfortunately, Saturday’s weather was not kind to anyone. A Northeasterly breeze, combined with chilly sub 50 degree temps and on-and-off downpours made for an unforgiving day. The conditions made for a long day, with ten races sailed in both divisions. Jade Forsberg and Sarah Yang competed in A-division, with Lexie Lessing and Sara Gilmore sailing B-division. Despite some quality starts, and strong first beats, the girls had trouble finding the groove and finishing the races as strong as they started. At the end of the day, through shivering teeth and pruned fingers, the girls were still smiling and simply excited to be involved in one of the toughest competitions in college sailing. The day concluded with a well earned meal of warm Chinese food in Providence.

Gray Skies and Rain @ Edgewood YC

Day two brought much better sailing conditions, with a dying northerly forecasted to (eventually) fill from the south. As predicted, the wind died after one race in each division. After an hour and a half on-land wind postponement, the fleets were set out at 1:30 to attempt to finish the regatta in the incoming seabreeze. Three races were completed in the last bit of allotted sailing time under a warm sun and building breeze. The regatta concluded with multiple close finishes and a few NEISA teams squeaking their way into the top ten, earning a bid to the National Championships in Charleston next month.

Race 1 in the dying northerly
Race 3 in the building seabreeze
Still Smiling
Lexie, Jade, Sara, Sarah

After the racing, the All-NEISA awards were handed out to first and second team skippers and crews, rookies of the year, and top overall female sailors in the league. Congrats to the ten teams who qualified for Nationals and the group of female sailors awarded for their success this season. Full recap of results can be found here and the awards press release can be found here. Congrats to all of the winners and the Coast Guard Bears for a very strong regatta!

Excitingly, one of our team members, Jade Forsberg, was awarded the NEISA Student Leadership award for dedication to support and promote smaller club teams within NEISA. Jade was nominated by multiple sailors and coaches for her efforts, and the work she has done for the league (and all of college sailing) in the form of a club team handbook will have large impacts around the league. Read the full press release here. Congrats on a well-deserved award, Jade!!!

Go Jade! Jade with NEISA president Justin Assad

Not to be excluded, Sam Scatchard and Franced Vandermeer attended the annual Freshman Championship, the Priddy Trophy, at Sacred Heart on Saturday. The regatta was a full day of sailing in tricky, northerly sailing conditions. The day began with a very exciting rules chat from Rules Guru and Sailing Legend Dave Perry.

The Rules Guru, Dave Perry

From Vick Xu:

This past weekend, Nick Jaczko, Vick Xu, Sam Scatchard, and Frances VanderMeer attended two different regattas in Connecticut and Massachusetts. On Saturday, Sam and Frances raced at the Single Crew Freshman Championship regatta at Sacred Heart University. The team first attended a sailing rule clinic with Dave Perry, legendary sailor and skipper of the 2016, 2017 Oracle USA boat of the America’s Cup. The races officially started at around 11:30 and Middlebury sailors opened the regatta strong, finishing first and second in the first two races. Despite the rain and very light, inconsistent wind, Sam and Frances were able to outcompete their peers with skillful maneuvers and made Middlebury the second runner-up of the Championship. More importantly, it was the first time Sam and Frances sailed together and was the first regatta Frances attended since she joined the team.

Sam and Frances with their 3rd place awards. Dave White (SHU) lurking in the background.

On Sunday the team came to Great Herring Pond in Plymouth MA, home to the Mass Maritime Buccaneers. The team was confronted by a shifty wind whose strength varied between 3 and 12 knots. Sam and Frances sailed in the A division, and Vick and Nick the B division. Competing against 14 other teams in relatively unfamiliar boats and environment, the Panthers showed improvements over the race. Here, the team would like to thank the Jaczko’s and the Scatchard’s for supporting the team at the regatta and bringing delicious food.

Nick, Vick, Sam, Frances

The weekend concluded with two groups of Middlebury sailors competing in two different championship regattas. This weekend, a group of Middlebury sailors will be traveling to Boston College’s Savin Hill YC venue to compete in the New England Dinghy Champs, a regatta that will provide even more of college sailing’s strongest sailors. We are also excited to be hosting the Little3 regatta, normally sailed at Williams’ venue in Western MA. A number of Midd alums will be on hand to support the regatta on Sunday, April 30th. The team looks to close out the season strong with a final weekend of competition.

Thank you everyone for your continued support of the team. The team is feeling the love, and we are excited about the future of the team. GO Midd!

Spring Season Weekend 3! Panthers sailing Big Breeze in Boston

Despite some of our previous regattas on the Charles River featuring minimal breeze and lousy weather, the most recent installment of Middlebury’s spring sailing season was significantly more enjoyable. With sunny skies and big breezes, the Panthers sent six sailors for a three-division regatta to the MIT Boathouse. The beautiful weather, assisted by a fresh Red Sox season, Bruins and Celtics playoff games, and a looming Marathon Monday, had the whole city of Boston buzzing. Fortunately for us, none of those major events coincided with the team’s sailing on the Charles.

The Oberg Trophy, hosted by Northeastern out of MIT’s infamous Wood Sailing Pavillion, featured three divisions of sailors from 11 schools. With all of the typical local schools attending the competition, the regatta would be far from easy. With decades of combined experience running races and regattas on the Charles River, the MIT coaching staff can manage large regattas incredibly efficiently. With Inner and Outer Trapezoids, the RC has doctored a system to simultaneously run two fleets on the same course.

Saturday’s conditions started sunny with light-ish breeze, but with gusts forecasted to increase to 25kts by 5pm, we knew the day would be a challenge. In A Fleet, Jade Forsberg sailed with Casey Astiz. B Fleet was sailed by Alex Baskin and Alden Cowap. Lexie Lessing and Emmet Byron rounded out the Panthers squad in the C division. Due to the consistently strong Southwest breeze, the race committee, headed by Northeastern Head coach Johnathan Farrar, was able to net eight races for each division on Saturday. The first race of C-fleet featured a general recall, thus allowing the RC to leave the I-flag flying for the remainder of the regatta. Being able to complete eight of the eleven races on Saturday meant a shorter race day for Sunday, giving the Panthers the opportunity to take a leisurely ride back to Middlebury.

Sunday’s race conditions were as breezy as the strongest gusts on Saturday, with gusts boasting above 30kts. With the wind still blasting from the southwest and temperatures approaching 80 degrees (and not that humid!), Easter Sunday was an incredible day for sailing on the Charles!

Despite a few strong races with mediocre finishes and a few great races with solid finishes, the team could not put together the complete regatta they had hoped for. Thanks to Jonathan and the Northeastern Husky staff for running a smooth regatta. Full scores and recap here.

The team travels to Providence for the Reed Trophy, the NEISA woman’s championship at Brown/Edgewood Yacht Club. Another group will be traveling to Sacred Heart University to compete in the Priddy, the Freshman Only championship. Wish the team luck! Thanks again for everyone’s continued support of the Middlebury Sailing Team. The team is entirely student run and fueled by the passion that the team members have for sailing. If you have any questions about the team or wish to assist with our fundraising efforts, feel free to reach out to us!

Go Midd!

Spring Sailing Underway: Spring Break, NE Dinghy Tourney, Fundraiser update

The Middlebury Panthers season is currently in full swing after a long week in Santa Cruz, CA for the team’s annual spring break training trip. Despite the waters of Lake Dunmore still being frozen into the end of March, Middlebury’s late spring break provides the team with a solid week of consistent practice prior to the New England Dinghy Tourney, a qualifier for the NE Dinghy Champs.

The team (minus Sara Gilmore, Vick Xu, and Ben Brown) near Big Sur.

For spring break, twelve team members traveled to California to take part in a week-long team building and sailing trip out of Santa Cruz in Monterey Bay. The team stayed within walking distance of the Santa Cruz Yacht Club and were lucky to be able to use the boats from UCSC for the week. Throughout the five days on the water, the team was treated to a strong ‘uncharacteristic’ seabreeze, consistent chop from the wind, and regular 4-6 foot rolling swells from deep in the Pacific Ocean. Navigating the harbor channel was often difficult due to inconsistent depths and swells breaking on the breakwater, but the difficult sailing conditions proved to be excellent conditions for training and preparation for the season. In between endless snacking and sailing, the team found time to explore Santa Cruz and join the Santa Cruz YC cruising fleet for their weekly races. Despite some confusion about how to start a race with a rabbit start while sailing downwind to an undesignated mark, the team enjoyed an evening racing with locals on larger (50-70 foot boats) in Monterey Bay. We are still unsure how a winner is determined…

Sailing in front of iconic Santa Cruz surf breaks
Wednesday Night Santa Cruz “races”
Panthers mid drill
Lifted on the port layline

At the tail end of the week, every sailor left California sunburnt, bruised, and excited to tackle the upcoming season in New England. The first weekend would be the team’s biggest challenge of the season-the New England Dinghy Tourney hosted by Salve Regina.

Snacktivities at Yellow Taqueria

The NEDT provides all teams in NEISA ranked 17-40 an opportunity to compete for a spot in the NE Dinghy Championships, hosted by Boston College later this month. The Panthers were represented by Alex Baskin, Erich Wu, and Rebecca Freeman in A Division, with Ben Arquit and Alden Cowap in B Division. When the team arrived on Saturday morning, the sailing area off of Fort Adams featured an out-going tide, a puffy/shifty westerly wind, and white caps-similar conditions to what the team practiced in Santa Cruz. The sailors battled for a top spot in every race, bouncing in and out of places 1-4. At the end of the day, the Panthers were sitting in third place poised to make a leap and take the lead. The day ended surprisingly early on Saturday despite a lighter than ideal forecast for Sunday.

Sunday’s forecast was accurate, with the first race of the day (5b) abandoned. After a 30+ minute on-water postponement, the wind filled from the Southwest. Ben Arquit and Alden continued to dominate B-division, ending the regatta with 15 points, including five first place finishes. Alex, Erich, and Rebecca sailed a consistent regatta in A-division, ending in fifth place in a tough fleet. At the end of the regatta after multiple close finishes and lead changes, the Panthers finished tied for second, winning the tie breaker and earning a bid in the New England Dinghy Championship!

Sailing out of Fort Adams

The regatta was a perfect example of how every point of race counts! The team remained focused throughout the entire regatta despite starting a race at 2:55pm on Sunday. See here for the regatta summary and full scores from the weekend. Thanks Salve coaches John and Stephen for helping with the regatta.

Thanks to the Baskin family for supporting the team in Newport on Sunday and a HUGE thank you to the Brown family for all of their coordination and support during our spring break trip in Santa Cruz. We cannot have this progress and success without the continued support from our friends, family, and alumni. As the year winds down, we look forward to advancing our fundraising campaign.

At this time, the team is asking for a donation of a Laser to add to our fleet of FJ’s. We believe that having a singlehanded boat will give new sailors an opportunity to practice the basic principles of sailing a small dinghy on their own. We often have an odd number of sailors at practice, and being able to ensure that there is a boat for any extra sailors would be an immense benefit. Having a laser would also allow our team to compete in single-handed sailing events, which features some of college sailing’s strongest sailors. To be clear, we are not looking for a brand new laser: We hope to have a laser to add to our fleet in order to continue to strengthen our sailing program at Middlebury! If you have any leads on a used laser, please contact us at sailing@middlebury.edu or alevin@middlebury.edu.

Happy Spring, GO Midd!

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