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St. Thomas Sailor Setting the Pace at College Nationals

Not only is getting to the ICSA/GILL National Championship an achievement in itself – most recently the 18 competing schools had to make it through the semi-final round held in May in Boston – the race for the most coveted title in college sailing is the highlight of these sailor’s school year, and, in many cases, their college sailing career. So the fleet jumping the gun and effecting a general recall at the start of racing today could be chalked up to nerves, aggression, or just the excitement of getting the show underway. Under cloudy skies, racers who over-adjusted their strategy for the lighter than expected and shifty conditions earned attention from the judges who doled out penalties for kinetics, while three protests resulted in three DSQs (disqualifications) on day one of this three-day championship event.

Yale University (New Haven, Conn.) and St. Mary’s College (St. Mary’s City, Md.) set the bar high in the opening races as Yale junior skipper Thomas Barrows (St. Thomas, USVI) with sophomore crew Blair Belling (Newport Beach, Calif.) won the first two races in A-Division and St. Mary’s sophomore skipper Michael Menninger (Newport Beach, Calif.) with junior crew Kelly Wilbur (Ipswich, Mass.) racked up a matching score in B-Division. Menninger and Wilbur then added their third bullet in as many races. With sophomores Madeline Jackson (Bainbridge Island, Wash.) and Megan Magill (San Diego, Calif.) and junior Mike Kuschner (San Francisco, Calif.) rotating as crew, St. Mary’s junior skipper Jesse Kirkland (Warwick, Bermuda) consistently finished in the top-five during the course of the day to keep the Seahawks at the head of the pack. Adding in senior crew Jennifer Chamberlain’s (Alexandria, Va.) contributions in B-Division, St. Mary’s closed day one of the competition with 61 points overall and a 27-point lead over second-placed Georgetown University (Washington, D.C.), the current leader in B-Division. Yale sits third overall with 96 points, followed by the U.S. Naval Academy (Annapolis, Md.) with 125, and Roger Williams University (Bristol, R.I.) with 130. Complete results are available at http://www.collegesailing.org/nas/spring09/coedresults.asp

The Format: In the ICSA/Gill National Championship each school fields a separate A and B division team with, weather permitting, each division sailing 20- to 30-minute fleet races in rotation. A team’s final score is determined by the combined results of its sailors in A and B divisions. Stanford University is co-hosting the women’s and coed championships with St. Francis Yacht Club, with racing taking place from the club.

Catch the Replay: Noted sailing commentator Gary Jobson (Annapolis, Md.) will produce a program on the ICSA/Gill National Championship for ESPNU set to air Saturday, June 20 at 3:00 p.m. and Wednesday, July 1 at 3:00 a.m.

About the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association: ICSA is the governing authority for sailing competition at colleges and universities throughout the United States and in some parts of Canada. To learn more please visit: www.collegesailing.org. ICSA is sponsored by Gill, Annapolis Performance Sailing, Marlow Ropes, Quantum Sails, LaserPerformance and US SAILING: www.gillna.com, www.apsltd.com, www.bainbridgeint.com, www.quantumsails.com, www.laserperformance.com and www.ussailing.org

June 1-3, 2009 – ICSA/Gill National Championship List of Schools Competing:
Boston College (Chestnut Hill, Mass.)
Boston University (Boston, Mass.)
College of Charleston (Charleston, S.C.)
Eckerd College (St. Petersburg, Fla.)
Georgetown University (Washington, D.C.)
Harvard University (Cambridge, Mass.)
Hobart & William Smith Colleges (Geneva, N.Y.)
Old Dominion University (Norfolk, Va.)
Roger Williams University (Bristol, R.I.)
St. Mary’s College (St. Mary’s City, Md.)
Stanford University (Palo Alto, Calif.)
SUNY Maritime College (Throggs Neck, N.Y.)
Tufts University (Medford, Mass.)
U.S. Naval Academy (Annapolis, Md.)
University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, Penn.)
University of South Florida (St. Petersburg, Fla.)
Washington College (Chestertown, Md.)
Yale University (New Haven, Conn.)

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