It’s no surprise that a school located on the Chesapeake Bay would have outstanding water sports and sailing. This is certainly no exception at St. Mary’s. Sailing is a proud tradition at the College, which includes 15 National Championship titles and over 150 All-Americans for the team.
This past May, the University of Wisconsin, Madison hosted the 2010 ICSA (Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association) national championship regattas. St. Mary’s sailing left with the national championship in team racing, which was held May 29-31.
The team racing championship has a field of 14 schools that have each qualified from their respective conference championships.
In team racing competition, schools meet head-to-head in three-boat teams. Each match lasts about ten minutes and the team with the lowest point score based on finishing position (one point for first place, two for second, etc.) wins.
The Seahawks compiled a record of 12 wins and five losses to take the championship, edging out Boston College in second and Georgetown University in third. This was the fifth time that St. Mary’s has won this championship, also winning in 1999, 2000, 2004, and 2007.
At the beginning of this year, Coaches Bill Ward and Adam Werblow, now in their fifth year coaching together, built a 28-person team, which, according to Ward, is “a little smaller than we have had in recent years.”
“We graduated a pretty big class last year,” Ward explains. Of the seniors who graduated in the spring, there were 3 All-Americans. “We have a young team dominated by freshman and sophomores. But we’re hopeful.” Werblow agrees: “The bar is set pretty high.”
Senior Michael Menninger, a skipper, is enthusiastic about the team. “I really like our team. Last year we lost a few sailors with some real talent but this year we got more freshmen with prospective talent that will help our team stay on a championship level for the next four years.”
Menninger, who is a two time All-American and was runner-up for College Sailor of the Year, believes that this new team will have to “try their hardest on the water and do their best to be in good physical shape.”
To accomplish this, the team has physical training on land on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8 a.m., and Mondays through Thursdays they’re in the water from 2 or 2:30 until sunset, or the wind dies, or sailors have to attend class, usually around 5.
On Fridays, there’s no practice, usually because the team does community service by coaching five or six local high school teams.
All of their practicing has certainly paid off. Their new season started the weekend of Sept. 11 and will end in mid-Nov. So far, they’ve had three national-level victories, beginning with the Hatch Brown trophy at MIT on Sept. 18 and 19, at which they beat 17 other colleges to take home the trophy.
The next weekend, the sailing team won at St. Mary’s very own event, aptly named the St. Mary’s College Fall Intersectional Regatta. In home waters, St. Mary’s sailing again defeated 17 other colleges.
Most recently, at the US Coast Guard Academy, the team dominated 19 other schools by a margin of 46 points (where a 15-point margin is average).
According to Werblow, the real goal for the team at large is to “broaden the base of expertise” and get the younger members of the team used to the “rhythm of the week,” academic success, and college life in general. “If everyone performs at a high level consistently then we’re one of the teams that can vie nationally.”
Werblow explains. “We’re excited. We have a really nice group of kids. People seem to be motivated and self-directed, and that’s a good beginning.”