- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
SMCM sailing team finishes second at team race nationals
By JAMES A. McCRAY III
Staff writer“If you would have told us we would have been second at nationals at the beginning of the year, we wouldn’t have believed you,” said Bill Ward, St. Mary’s College of Maryland’s director of sailing.
Make that same statement now and Ward and the Seahawks sailors will have no choice but to believe it.
Ward and company earned second place at the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association/APS Team Race National Championship in Texas from June 3 to 5.
Ward and his sailors were one race win away from claiming the title, a title that it won in 2010.
“We had a whole new group, a lot younger group,” Ward said of this year’s team. “They kind of struggled through the regular season, we were kind of a .500 team, finishing in the middle in a lot of big events. We got good at the end of the year and started to come together. Getting second at nationals was a major accomplishment and surprise for us.”
St. Mary’s was one of 14 teams to start a quest for a championship in Austin.
The 14 teams then get cut down to eight to move to the gold round, where St. Mary’s advanced through after double round-robin racing. The final eight is then cut to four teams who then vie for the championship.
“We just kept making it through the threshold and had a couple of stretches where we sailed a couple of good races,” Ward said. “It was really close in the last race. If we would have won the last race, we would have won. We just got beat out by a team that, on the whole year, was better than us. … It was close.”
The College of Charleston won the championship but for the Seahawks, a team that Ward said was .500 through the regular season, coming away one win short of a championship was a triumph all its own.
“I think we have a lot of depth on our team,” Ward said. “They were very young but we have a good group, so our team could finish stronger throughout the year, all the way up through nationals. … We just kept getting better and better.”
However, it took more than just three days of good racing to earn the second-place finish.
Being .500 the entire year and being together for an entire year allowed for the Seahawks to come together, form a bond and learn on the sail, of sorts.
“I think it was just the experience and maturity and the natural learning curve,” Ward said. “They were pretty good but just inexperienced. We went from a veteran group that had graduated the last couple of years to a whole new group.”
Rising senior Joshua Greenslade, Ward’s top skipper, was named to the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association All-American team as an honorable mention.
“He has been our best guy this year,” Ward said. “He had a great year and is our top skipper. He has come a long way. He wasn’t a huge recruit or highly touted, but he has worked really hard and he has got steadily better. I am looking forward to seeing where he can go from here.”
Ward and his crew hope that this late-season success can rollover into next year and it bodes well that no one from this team will graduate and he will have the return of 2012 Olympic sailor Mimi Roller who took this past season off for her Olympic duties.
“We hope so,” Ward said. “For the last two years, we have been a majority underclassmen team with freshmen and sophomores. This year [upcoming] will be the first time we have a majority of upperclassmen. … We didn’t graduate anybody that was starting, so we’re feeling pretty good about next year.”