Severn sailing makes history by capturing the Baker Trophy as Team Race national champs

Severn sailing made history this past weekend by winning the Interscholastic Sailing Association Team Racing national championship and capturing the prestigious Toby Baker Trophy.

Seniors skippers Robbie Meek, Kyle Reinecke and Tommy Sitzmann led Severn to an 11-0 performance in a truncated regatta held on Lake Minnetonka in Minnesota. Juniors Reese Corckran, Helena English and Scarlett Harris served as primary crew for the Admirals, who went 6-0 in the championship portion of the event.

Severn is the first Anne Arundel County school to ever claim the Baker Trophy, which was established in 1989. The Admirals were runner-up to Point Loma at the 2005 Team Race Nationals, then placed third in 2021 and 2022.

“I think the Baker Trophy is the hardest to win and most coveted. We’ve been chasing it ever since I’ve been at Severn, so it’s very rewarding to finally accomplish that elusive goal,” said Tom Sitzmann, who has coached Severn sailing since 2005.

Sitzmann said it was somewhat surreal to see the faces of the Severn sailors when they suddenly realized the Baker Trophy was coming back with them.

“I think it’s hard to appreciate in the moment, especially as a young high school student, how special and precious it is to win a national championship,” he said. “They certainly don’t come easy, so I am beyond happy they will be able to cherish this forever.”

Kyle Reinecke and Lilly Baker execute a roll tack during the Interscholastic Sailing Association Team Race national championship regatta. The Severn School sailing team captured the Baker Trophy as Interscholastic Sailing Association Team Race national champions, held on Lake Minnetonka in Minnesota.

Interscholastic Sailing Association organizers planned to conduct a full round-robin of 66 races on Saturday, then hold the championship, silver and bronze rounds on Sunday. However, extremely light winds upended those plans and midway through the qualifying round, the principal race officer, chief umpire and ISSA representatives met to discuss how to determine a champion if no racing was possible on Sunday.

It was 4 p.m. and after consulting local meteorologists, the organizing committee decided it would not be feasible to complete qualifying and predicted conditions for Sunday necessitated moving into the championship round immediately.

That meant having the top four teams compete in a double round-robin with Severn (5-0) being joined by Hotchkiss School (5-0), Mater Dei (4-1) and Brunswick School (3-2).

“It was a shocking turn of events for everyone, but that sometimes happens with team racing,” Sitzmann said.

Severn beat each of the other schools twice in the championship round. The Admirals sent a strong message in their first meeting with Mater Dei, coming from behind to beat the California school.

Two Severn teams — Tommy Sitzmann and Harris along with Meek and English — passed the two Mater Dei boats that had been leading the whole race during the final beat to finish one-two. Coach Sitzmann said the Admirals rallied to win almost half their races at nationals.

“I think the grit and determination the team has displayed all season really shone through in that race and the whole regatta,” Sitzmann said. “More than anything it was teamwork. I think the sailors went out and executed all the things we have been teaching and practicing all season.”

Mater Dei was the runner-up with an 8-3 record and Hotchkiss took third with a 6-5 mark. A total of 12 schools qualified for Team Race Nationals with Archbishop Spalding also representing Anne Arundel County.

After Severn clinched the championship, the elder Sitzmann inserted seniors Jed Lory and Lilly Baker as crew as reward for their season-long contributions to the team’s success. Severn went 15-0 in securing the Mid-Atlantic Scholastic Sailing Association championship and did not lose a team race all spring.

“This is a true team achievement, not just for the sailors traveling to the event itself, but for our entire team. They all contributed enormously in both tangible and intangible ways,” Sitzmann said. “So many ingredients are necessary: preparation, sacrifice, talent, work ethic, humility, grit and, of course, a bit of luck.”

Severn secured the Mallory Trophy as ISSA Doublehanded national champions in 2008 and has also two Cressy Trophy winners with Joe Morris (2007) and Meek (2021, 2022) captured the singlehanded championship.

All five Severn seniors will continue their sailing careers at the collegiate level with Sitzmann steering to Stanford, Meek headed to Harvard, Baker bound for Dartmouth, Reinecke recruited to the Naval Academy and Lory going to Roger Williams.

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