Representing Georgetown against some of the United States’ best collegiate sailors, the open and women’s sailing teams recently captured a national tournament bid, a first-place trophy and achieved three top-three finishes at recent competitions.
The preeminent achievement for the university’s open sailing team was capturing victory at the Middle Atlantic Intercollegiate Sailing Association (MAISA) open team championship on April 8-9 in Kings Point, N.Y. The team’s victory secured the Prosser Trophy, which is awarded to the MAISA conference champions, and an automatic bid to the Open Team Race National Championship in May on the same Kings Point waters. On April 18, the National Championship Selection Committee assigned the Hoyas the No. 5 seed in the national tournament.
“I’m really happy for the team and coaches,” Head Coach Mike Callahan told Georgetown Athletics in an April 10 press release. “We worked hard for this, and it was a full team effort.”
The team emerged victorious in a field of eight, winning six of its seven races. In the three versus three-style team races, the Hoyas claimed the top three spots against the Navy and Fordham University, as well as the top two spots against St. Mary’s, George Washington and Old Dominion. Georgetown’s only loss was to the University of Pennsylvania, where Georgetown sailors finished in third, fifth and sixth place.
“Generally, we were beating teams and beating them handily,” sophomore crew member Spencer Kriegstein said in an interview with The Hoya. “So that felt really good for us.”
The Georgetown women’s sailing team also had a solid showing at the MAISA Women’s Team Race Championship on April 15-16 in Ithaca, N.Y. The Hoyas placed third out of seven teams, trailing only behind the host school and champion Cornell University and runner-up UPenn. Despite the decent performance, the team was not satisfied with the result.
“The big goal is to win nationals, but getting there takes a lot of steps, so the qualifier is absolutely a huge deal,” captain and sophomore Piper Holthus told The Hoya. “When we walked away in third place, it was a pretty devastating loss in our eyes.”
Despite the April 18 announcement that the women’s team did not make the national tournament, the team’s season-long commitment to hard work was not cut short.
“Our team philosophy is our mantra, ‘as one,’” Holthus said. “We win as one, we lose as one. As soon as we get to practice, everybody is moving with intensity. You get all your gear on, your boots, your life jacket, and then you’re hitting that water as soon as possible.”
While the women’s team was in Ithaca, the open sailing team traveled to Annapolis, Md., for the annual Truxton Umsted regatta, which is hosted by the Naval Academy.
Despite choppy waves and weak wind, the Hoyas won their first fleet race of the season. As opposed to team racing, fleet racing mostly features in the fall season, pinning every team’s A boat in a gauntlet of competitions before switching to their B boats, which have varied widths and move differently through the water. Already having clinched a berth in the open team championship, the team expects to be one of the 36 selected for fleet nationals.
As a result of this confidence and because the race was not a qualifying event, the Hoyas brought more of their alternate sailors to the Truxtun Umsted regatta, and they still performed well. The only team they trailed, Tulane University, brought their best roster — the same one that won the 2022 national championship. Georgetown is aiming to achieve similar success in the upcoming championships but will need to maximize its strengths to do it.
“We like to think of ourselves as a hybrid team where we are fast and still smart in the boat-to-boat combat,” Kriegstein said. “We can generally keep pace with any team, but there are some teams that are clearly faster than us or clearly more experienced than us. Understanding when to use which discipline more — that is going to be what our success comes down to.”
The Georgetown women’s sailing team next hits the water this weekend for the women’s fleet racing championship, a second chance to secure a spot at nationals come late May. Meanwhile, the open team will travel back up to Kings Point during the weekend of April 22 to vie for the Admiral’s Cup.