St. Mary’s College of Maryland is not only home to a magnificent waterfront, but also a nationally-renowned sailing team. While most sports at St. Mary’s are Division III, the St. Mary’s sailing team competes at the Division I level. They are also widely considered one of the best sailing programs in the nation, as they compete with the likes of Yale, U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, MIT, and many others. On the weekend of November 12th, the team competed in two championships: the Atlantic Coast Dinghy Championship held at MIT and the Women’s Atlantic Coast Championship held at the College of Charleston. In the Women’s Championship, the Seahawk sailors placed eleventh with a total of 331 points. Senior skipper Carolyn Smith expressed her opinions on the event: “Charleston is a tricky venue because it is very current-centric. Also with the supermoon the current was the strongest I have ever seen before. This year’s nationals are going to be hosted by Charleston so it was an extreme advantage to have qualified for this event and get the practice. I think we all learned a lot and hopefully will be able to take full advantage of the setup we have at Point Lookout to get lots of practice in the current.”
At the Atlantic Coast Dinghy Championships (ACCs) SMCM finished in fifteenth place, scoring 383 points in the process. This was the last regatta for the Seahawks until the spring season gets under way. Senior captain and skipper Patrick Tara gave his thoughts on the regatta: “We performed well at the ACCs; we could’ve done better but it is a very competitive field at one of the trickiest places to sail. MIT is notorious for having shifty winds and tough conditions, not to mention being very cold. Shelby Jacobs and myself placed 11th in the A division, within close striking distance of the boats ahead. Kyle Burgess and Jonathan Lutz sailed with Hannah Chapman in the B division and had some great moments of success, [even] dominating some races. If a few races had gone differently I believe we would have placed a lot better, but it’s all about consistency.”
This marks the end of the fall season for the dinghy and women’s teams. According to Tara, the team is excited for their annual alumni “Possum Bowl” this coming December. Tara says this event is about: “Connecting with graduates and celebrating the St. Mary’s sailing program.”
The team will finish up the semester with practices in order to prepare themselves for next semester and the championships that lay ahead. In the fall, sailors practice a myriad of techniques. This includes skill specific drills, speed practices, starting practices, etc. Sometimes they may even run a mock race in order to get a “game day feel”. Tara mentions that they focused a lot on boat maneuvering skills in particular this fall. Sophomore crew member Grace Papp explains the team’s normal schedule: “We have workouts twice a week at 8am to work on our cardiovascular health, lifting, and core strength so we can keep the boat flat in a big breeze. We practice four days a week working on an array of sailing skills, practice races, boat handling, and specific drills working on upwind and downwind. If there is no wind we have video footage from practice that we can watch and analyze.”
To the average fan, a regatta may seem a tad confusing. Smith explains a typical regatta: “College regattas are broken down into two divisions, where the result comes from the sum of both divisions … The regatta is composed of 18 races. A race is just when boats have to go around a certain track, and your goal is to get around the track the fastest because the lowest cumulative scores win. This weekend … there were 36 boats on the water each time. A division will sail one fleet of boats and start first, whereas B division will sail the other and start second.” Papp adds: “We sail in Fj’s and 420’s which are both classified as dinghy boats (two people per boat). One person is the skipper and one is the crew. The skipper controls the mainsail and tiller and crew controls jib and does a lot of boat handling.”
The SMCM sailing team is coached by Adam Werblow who is currently in his twenty-ninth season at the helm of the Seahawks. He is assisted by Connor Blouin who is now in his second year at St. Mary’s. Bill Ward continues to serve as the Director of Sailing as he is now in his tenth season. The Seahawks are captained by seniors Greer Watson, Lutz, and Tara.