NEW LONDON, Conn. – In addition to the regular dinghy team and regular races, the Massachusetts Maritime Academy sailing team competed in two J70 competitions at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in April, improving from fifth earlier in the month to fourth in Saturday and Sunday's regatta. In the first race, the Buccaneers defeated Maine Maritime Academy, while the second marked the first time the sailors bested local rivals Roger Williams University in any competition this spring.
The J/70 is a type of sailboat that was first built in 2012, of which less than 2,000 exist worldwide. The boat is 22.7 feet long and constructed by only three companies worldwide, including CCF Composites in the U.S.
The first J70 regatta at Coast Guard came on the weekend of April 7 and 8 on an 18-minute W4 racecourse. In a tough field that included Division-I Universities of Rhode Island, Vermont, and North Carolina State, the Buccaneers were consistently ahead of NC State and fellow regimental academy Maine Maritime.
The first seven races were completed on Saturday with a shift west-northwest breeze of between four and 12 knots, while the wind picked up for the remaining race on Sunday at 15 knots. URI took the championship by winning five of the last six races and finished 42 points, just ahead of Roger Williams University and the Catamounts, which both had 48. Vermont was in first place for the entire event before slipping from first to second in the penultimate race and a tie in the finale thanks to a head-to-head loss to RWU.
In the end, Mass. Maritime's Chris Dawson, Evan Bowen, Braden Foster, and McKenna Jarvis finished with 72 points in fifth place, well ahead of Tufts University (95), the Wolfpack (125), and the Mariners (127). Coast Guard was fourth at 59.
Given their experience in New London in the month's first weekend, the Navy-and-Gold showed noteworthy improvement in a similar field at the USCGA this past Saturday and Sunday. While Vermont and Maine Maritime did not take part, the field was still a tough one, and the Bucs responded with aplomb, improving their finish in all but one of the 16 head-to-heads.
Coast Guard entered two squads that dominated the competition, with no team able to surpass them. Rhode Island chipped away at the margin over the course of the two days, eventually finishing one point behind the second Bears' mark of 50, while the First Team came in at 42.
It was MMA, however, that made the most dramatic improvement, starting out at sixth of seven, ahead of only hapless NC State. The team of Dawson, Foster, Jarvis, and Luke Turner climbed to mid-table by the sixth race out of 16, with a series of close finishes moving the sailors all the way up to 57 points at the conclusion of competition, only seven points out of second place.
In doing so, Maritime bested Roger Williams, which was just behind at 60, as well as Tufts (77) and the Wolfpack (111). After coming very close in the Herring Pond Team Race, it was the first time that the Buccaneers have beaten RWU in any sailing competition this year.
The two races make up the entirety of the J70 season for Mass. Maritime and, while the intercollegiate portion of the sailing season has concluded, the team will be competing in the Figawi Race on May 26 and the Newport Bermuda Race, starting on June 15.
Gabriel Fidler, Sports Information Associate