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U.S. Naval Academy wins 2011 ICSA Match Race Nationals

by Jennifer Mitchell on 22 Nov 2011
2011 ICSA Match Race Nationals Chris Ray

The Intercollegiate Sailing Association Match Race Nationals took place between the 18-20 November and were co-hosted by the California Maritime Academy and the St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco. Racing action took place out of St. Francis YC on San Francisco Bay just in front of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The three-day event saw a number of different weather conditions including light wind, rain and strong current. The event included ten teams representing all seven ICSA conferences across the nation. The regatta was sailed in J22s and each team had one skipper and two crewmembers on their boats. Match racing involves just two boats racing against each other at a time utilizing both course tactics and boat-to-boat tactics.

The first day of racing began with a southwest breeze 8 – 12 knots with shifts, a variety of puffs and an ebbing current. As the day progressed the current got stronger making pre-start techniques between the boats more difficult because they had to fight with the current and position themselves properly to beat one another at the start.

The current played such a role in the start that at times boats were starting on port because they could not make the line on starboard tack, a highly unusual situation. It was a long day of racing with the race committee and volunteers completing 45 races.

The U.S. Naval Academy lead after the first day of racing with a record of eight wins and one loss, Roger Williams University was second with seven wins winning a tie-breaker with Tufts University who also had seven wins and Stanford University was in fourth with six wins.

Day two racing was postponed all morning due to a lack of wind. The breeze was only 2 – 4 knots, which was not enough for the boats to sail in given the strong current on the course. At about 2 p.m. racing resumed and the format of the regatta had to be amended due to the late start. A Gold Round Robin was eliminated for the top six teams, which would have determined the seeding for them in the quarterfinals.

The Repecharge round instead began the day’s racing with the teams in seventh – 10th places competing for the last two spots in the quarterfinals. University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin advanced to the quarterfinals with the original top six teams. The light winds continued and the current remained a challenge for the teams especially on the downwind leg where the current swept the boats sideways across the course.

The third and last day of the event sailors were again greeted by light breeze on the Bay and the usual strong current. Sailing resumed with the remaining races in the quarterfinals as boats fought the current and light wind. The teams who advanced to the semi-finals were Navy, Stanford, Roger Williams and University of Southern Florida.

In a repecharge semi-final round the remaining teams sailed for fifth – eighth place. Simultaneously, a knockout round between the University of Oregon and the University of Texas A&M took place with the teams finishing ninth and 10th respectively in the event.

After all of the semi-finals racing completed it was on to the finals with a match up between Roger Williams and Navy and University of Southern Florida (USF) and Stanford.

After the first few races there was a large wind shift and some rain came in which caused the finals and petit finals racing to be postponed. With everything re-set the racing continued with Stanford and USF in the petit finals and Roger Williams and Navy in the finals. Stanford won the petit finals placing third at Nationals and USF therefore finished fourth.

Going into the third finals race the racing was close and Navy and Roger Williams were all tied up. The breeze had increased with the wind shift making for better sailing at this point. In the end Navy took the last race winning Match Race Nationals and Roger Williams finished second in some fantastic sailing.

Ian Burman, head coach for the U.S. Naval Academy attributes their success to having a strong keel boat skipper Jason Carminati ‘12, who placed third at Sloop Nationals two years ago and great crew work on the boat by Taylor Vann ‘13 and Killian Corbishley ‘14.

'Really a great deal of the credit for our success goes to our assistant coach Brendan Healy who lead the charge in match racing and was with the team every step of the way. It was a real team effort and we also had a lot of people practice with us and give us a lot of help so that we were prepared for anything at this event,' explains Burman.

St. Francis Yacht Club and California Maritime put on a great event along with the help of volunteers and umpires who are an integral part of match racing. The racing was competitive and in challenging conditions, but the Chicago Match Race center kept viewers up to date with live video feed and Twitter updates. Find results on the event website as well as Chicago Match Race Center’s coverage.

Final Results:

1. U.S. Naval Academy
2. Roger Williams University
3. Stanford University
4. University of Southern Florida
5. Tufts University
6. University of Wisconsin
7. St. Mary’s College of Maryland
8. University of Michigan
9. University of Oregon
10. Texas A&M University

The Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association (ICSA) is the governing authority for sailing competition at colleges and universities throughout the United States and in some parts of Canada.

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