Loaded with depth, CofC sailing team crowned national champions

  • Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The College of Charleston sailing program is a perennial national contender thanks to practice in the Charleston Harbor, which has locations of varying conditions. Sailing director Greg Fisher said the Cougars practice around sites like the USS Yorktown, Crab Bank Island and the James Island Yacht Club. COURTESY OF JOHN PAYNE PHOTOGRAPHY | WWW.JOHNPAYNEPHOTO.COM

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There was no dramatic comeback on the final day of racing. There was no gale force winds like Charleston Race Week endured.

This was just a typical College of Charleston sailing beatdown of the competition. The Cougars led all three days of the Intercollegiate Sailing Assocation (ICSA)/Gill Coed Dinghy National Championship in St. Petersburg, Fla. this past week and beat runner-up Georgetown by 20 points.

College of Charleston sailing director Greg Fisher credited depth as the team's advantage. “We have a lot of super sailors, especially our seniors,” he said. “They have been just tremendous.”

Of the final day's 18 total races, the College of Charleston finished in the upper portion every time. It was the program's fourth all-time ICSA title. Last year, the Cougars won the ICSA/APS Team Race National Championship.

The coed dinghy win means another Henry A. Morss Memorial Trophy for the Cougars, which they had also previously won in 1986, 2006 and 2007. Among the sailors were two-time Olympian Juan Maegli, Wando alumnae Seppie McAdams and All-Americans Ben Spector and Mac Mace.

“There's a lot of great sailors in college sailing these days. We felt good about our chances going in,” Fisher said. “We were hopeful; We felt like we had a good shot.”

Maegli also qualified for All-American status and was named the 2013 College Sailor of the Year. Although Fisher repeatedly praised Maegli's abilities, calling him a “real student of the sport,” he emphasized the balance on the team.

McAdams frequents Maegli as his crew. “She definitely contributed to Juan's success,” he said. “Juan is a skipper; he's a driver. Seppie is a crew, which means she, in a lot of ways, becomes Juan's eyes on the course.

“She has great potential,” Fisher added about McAdams. “She's an excellent team player and an asset to the team. She has a very bright future.”

McAdams, only a freshman, will be one of two returning players with championship experience from the regatta. Sophomore Ali Blumenthal also served as crew.

In the coed nationals, the sailing arena featured decent winds, which Fisher said also benefitted the Cougars. In the Charleston Harbor, windy conditions are the norm. “We saw conditions that we sailed in a lot. It worked out well,” Fisher said.

“We almost look for lighter (less windy) days to get and sail,” he added, referring to practice times.

The championship will be broadcasted on ESPNU, July 12 at 6 p.m. A few days before the ICSA/Gill title win, College of Charleston placed fifth in the ICSA/APS regatta. And days prior to that event, the Cougars women's sailing team grabbed seventh in the ICSA Sperry Top-Sider Women's National Championship.

Prior to the season finales, College of Charleston prepared with repetition in the Charleston Harbor.

“We spent a week before the nationals practicing every day for about three or five hours a day,” Fisher said, adding typical home practice sites include areas near Crab Bank, James Island Yacht Club and the USS Yorktown.

“One of the things that makes our team so strong is on any particular day that we're racing we have six or seven teams (within the college) that can win a race,” he said.

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