The Georgetown women’s sailing team won the 2014 Mid-Atlantic Intercollegiate Sailing Association Spring Conference Championship this past Saturday and qualified for the Women’s National Championship that will take place in June. Earlier this month, the team had secured a spot in the Team Race National Championship for their performance at the MAISA Conference Team Race. Considering the team entered their qualifiers unranked for the first time in years, the Hoyas turn of fortune has been nothing short of spectacular.
Upon entering their team qualifier three weeks ago, Georgetown was coming off an 8-13 performance that left a bitter taste in their mouths. Describing their disappointing performance as a “wake-up call,” Mike Callahan, Georgetown sailing coach, said he and his team went straight to work to turn things around. This paid off, as the team came out of the gates at full speed.
The MAISA Women’s Championship featured the 14 top schools in the conference, with the teams finishing in the top six moving on to compete at Nationals. In the A division, sophomore Mary Kate Mezzetti and senior Amanda Taselaar, despite having limited experience sailing together competitively, managed to finish just six points short of second place.
The real heroes of the race were the Hoya sailors in the B division, junior Katie DaSilva and sophomore Bettina Redway. Despite almost no time in-boat together, the duo managed to win five of the first eight races. Eventually, sophomore Madeline Higgins subbed in for Redway, helping the boat to finish out the day 11 points ahead of Navy, the widely-regarded favorite.
“I’m really proud of the way the girls practiced hard all semester, got really good, and were able to overcome some really top notch teams,” said Callahan. Despite being largely satisfied with their performance, Callahan notes that there are additional intensive practices ahead in order to be successful at any one of the three National Championships in which his sailors will participate.
While the team can certainly race with the best of them, key injuries mean that the team will have to shuffle roles to fill in the gaps. Callahan remains positive, though, saying that, “From a recruitment standpoint, we have a lot more we can be better at. I think that, come Nationals, provided everyone stays healthy, we can definitely compete.”
This season has been a bit of an anomaly. Usually one of the top ranked programs in the country, the Hoyas had produced poor results, which few had expected. Their recent hard work and success has propelled them back into contention for national honors. While the team still has room for improvement before the ultimate test in June, they can be proud of their recent efforts. The team’s final regular season event will take place this weekend starting Saturday in New York at the Co-Ed Free Racing Conference Championship.