College Sailing’s Big Return: The 2021-’22 Pre-Season Breakdown

Brown and Stanford sailors battle to the finish at the 2021 College Sailing Team Race National Championship hosted by the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

Brown and Stanford sailors battle to the finish at the 2021 College Sailing Team Race National Championship hosted by the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. (Wilbur Keyworth/)

An abbreviated year of competition after piecing it all together, it will be exciting to watch the seasons unfold once again with the full breadth of the ICSA on the water. There are six conferences in the ICSA, here are some teams to look for and some insight to our Pre-Season Rankings

MAISA

Navy won the 2021 Coed Fleet Race and Team Race Nationals on their home waters to go along with a very respectable sixth-place finish at Women’s Nationals. They are fortunate to have many of those sailors returning to competition. College Sailor of the Year, J.C. Hermus, will lead the team in the Coed discipline. All-American skippers Olivia de Olazarra and Gray Benson return to the Women’s and Coed scene respectively, while All-American crews Kimmie Leonard, Sally Johnson and Fiona Lobon will take on a variety of roles across all disciplines. All of the above mentioned have been major contributors to the success of Navy Sailing over the past few years and are eager to finish off their collegiate careers on a high note. In addition, young talented sailors are looking forward to opportunities to show what they can do. The perspective, experience, and demonstrated success on the water should carry over and match up with their high expectations. Look for Navy to be strong out of the gates.

Georgetown coed sailing returns with the same roster that finished fourth at last year’s Coed National Championship. All-American crew Annabelle Ayer and All-American skippers Jack Reiter and Mariner Fagan are joined by Diego Escobar, Wills Cook and Scott Mais to lead the charge. Ford McCann won the Men’s Singlehanded National Championship in May 2021 and will be back to defend his title. On the women’s side, Morgan Sailer will anchor a squad that has Riley Kloc and freshman standout Piper Holthus. Holthus most recently won the c420 National Championship. With a squad of more than 50 sailors, the Hoyas will look to their depth to help them improve throughout the season. They are a consistent favorite in the conference, and dominant over the past two decades. Former sailors include countless All-Americans and multiple Olympians.

Cornell won the 2019MAISA Women’s Conference Championship, but a lot has changed since then with two classes moving on and three semesters passed without competition. Brooke Shachoy and Lilly Myers return to skipper having the most experience in competition. Myers is the reigning MAISA Faye Bennett Singlehanded Champion from 2019. Crews Gabbi DelBello and Jana Laurendeau will look to step up this year with the most experience in high-level competition. Vying for starting spots across all disciplines will be J.J. Smith, Ben Rizika, Meredith Moran, Lucija Ruzevic, Emily O’Connell and Bridget Green. Former ICSA All-American Daisy Holthus joins the staff.

St. Mary’s returns All-American and 2019 Singlehanded National Champion Leo Boucher to lead the team. New faces include Charlie Anderson, Taft Buckley, Lily Flack and Owen Hennessey among other arrivals. Katherine Bennett ‘22 returns for her senior year to lead the Seahawk in women’s competition. Maddie Bashaw ‘24 returns as a (skipper and crew, senior Sam Muir ‘22 assumes a leadership role as a top crew and co-captain. St. Mary’s has won multiple conference and national championships in the past, and will look to continue its winning ways this year.

Hobart & William Smith have many of their returning sailors coming back this year, led by Charles Carraway, who finished second at the Singlehanded National Championship in 2021, as well as Jake Vickers who skippered A division at the 2021 Fleet Race Nationals. Sophomores Will Foox, Eli Gleason, and Nick Sessions will look to break into the mix and start at cross-regional events. Camile McGriff and Ella Withington return to lead the women’s competition with newcomer Brook Wood coming in. Katherine Klempen will lead the crews having the most experience at the National level. Hobart competed in both the women’s and coed fleet racing championships last year.

Kings Point returns several sailors from its Spring 2021 Nationals team. Lost to graduation are both A division starters, Carrson Pearce (sportsperson of the year 2021) and Kieran Cullen. Jack McKenna, Ellary Boyd, and Marshall Cho will look to build off of the team’s success last spring and the strong foundation the 2021 seniors left behind. They’ll need to bring up to speed the group of 2025 recruits, including Lucas Sawin, Will Weinbecker and Michael Burns. Carter Pearce leads the singlehanded competition alongside Sawin and Burns, and hopes to qualify for his second Single-handed Nationals with that qualifier being held on home waters. Sunrae Sturmer is joined this fall by freshman skipper Laura Smith, and together they will represent Kings Point at events on the women’s circuit.

University of Pennsylvania was unable to compete last year and unfortunately lost many impactful sailors to graduation. However, they still have a talented squad of sailors looking to hit the water this year, led by Chris Sharpless, Javier Garcon and Jordan Bruce in the coed skipper positions. Shaanti Choi-Bose is a returning All-American crew who will surely be in the mix all season long across all disciplines. Amanda Majernik will lead the women’s skippers for a team that has been strong in recent years. Look out for sailors Sofia Segalla and Hannah Bast to round out the squad for Penn.

Fordham sailing missed the 2021 spring season and will look forward to getting their team back together. Porter Kavle finished fourth at Match Race Nationals in 2019 and will lead the team in the coed skipper department with Clay Snyder. Payton Canavan will lead the women’s skippers alongside some new faces joining the mix. They’ll look to put the roster back together with the experience of head coach Johnny Norfleet and hit the ground running this year.

NY Maritime is not a team to sleep on. Benton Amthor is the star on this squad and will take the lead in coed competition. They have a number of newcomers on both the coed and women’s side of things and are looking to get back to racing on the women’s circuit full time. Don’t be surprised to see NYM take a big step forward this year returning the entire squad. Clara Guarascio will lead the women’s competition.

Old Dominion sailing team was one of the first teams out of the gate in the spring of 2021. They return starting skipper Bridget Groble who will compete across the board and lead the team. Parker Purrington and Rider Odom will be favorites to lead the coed team when Groble is off at a women’s event. Katherine Barton and Grace O’Brien gained experience last year as crews and will return to make an impact in the start of the year with the leadership of Makalynne Dyer. This team has a lot of history in MAISA as one of the top programs and with many resources will look to establish themselves as a contender in the championship events.

Kings Point and Roger Williams at the 2021 College Sailing Team Race National Championship hosted by the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

Kings Point and Roger Williams at the 2021 College Sailing Team Race National Championship hosted by the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. (Wilbur Keyworth/)

George Washington was unfortunately dropped by their athletic department as a recognized varsity program after years success. While disappointing, the team is nationally ranked and still has many resources. Returning sailors include Chiara Perotti-Correa, Mikaela Smith, Michael Ehnot, Allison Forsyth, Owen Timms and Ruby Gordon.Seniors Matt Logue and Sarah Hardee are co-captains and will look to take on the leadership roles to organize the team. New faces include Avery Canavan, Abbie Chipps and Jack Fisher, alongside transfers Oscar McGillivray and Emma Aubuchon who will look to step up the new look for the Colonials.

MCSA

MCSA hasn’t competed in college sailing since Fall 2019. With so many sailors graduating and multiple classes of new sailors who haven’t had the chance to compete, they should be in for an exciting albeit rebuilding type of season. The entire conference is made up of club teams, where they rely heavily on student leadership. They have been quite successful historically with the University of Wisconsin and the University of Michigan as perennial favorites to lead the conference.

Wisconsin is the consistent favorite in the conference, and has been successful at the highest levels of the ICSA. They have a number of roster members returning for competition this year including Christian Spencer and Samuel Bartel who will lead their coed team in competition. On the women’s side, look for Ella Reinemann and Haley Feinzig to lead the way. They have a number of junior and senior crews on the team with the experience to put together a solid year for Wisco.

Michigan has been known to upset Wisconsin from time to time and returns Sherman Thompson and Isabel Dziuba to take on the challenge. Lily Allen will lead the crew role along with a number of newcomers.

The University of Notre Dame and Northwestern University are well organized and poised to make a run this year within the conference as well.

University of Saint Thomas, Purdue, Hope College and Toledo will also be in the mix as the season unfolds.

NEISA

Yale University has been one of the more dominant teams in college sailing over the last decade and will again have a stacked deck of experienced and incoming talent. Veteran coaches Zack Leonard and Bill Healy will be assisted by Team USA Olympic Coach Thomas Barrows and Judge Ryan. The coaching staff will oversee a program that returns many key, pre-Covid players. The co-ed skippers are an experienced group led by All-American Shawn Harvey and Teddy Nicolosi. All-American crews Sonia Lingos-Utley and Catherine Webb will anchor the front of the boat for the co-ed squad.

On the women’s side, the incredibly strong recruiting class of Emma and Carmen Cowles, fresh off their Olympic 470 campaign, combined with skipper Mia Nicolosi, Megan Grimes and crew Ximena Escobar will challenge the highest levels of college sailing, from the first day of competition.

Boston College will be a strong contender this year across the board. Their women’s sailors won the National title in 2018 and narrowly missed out on winning last year. All-American skipper Sophia Reineke will look to regain the ICSA Singlehanded National titles she won in 2017 and 2019. All-American skipper Colleen O’Brien and Libby Redmond will challenge the best in the country. Crews Michaela O’Brien and Katelyn McGauley will handle the duties in the front of the boat and expect the women’s Eagles team to make a run at the National titles in New Orleans next spring. On the co-ed side, many of these women sailors will crossover and compete in co-ed regattas. Skippers Jack DeNatale and Robert Hunter will be on the co-ed side with veteran crews Laura Ferraris and Emma Batcher.

Brown University emerges in a different place from where they started after they were granted varsity status last year. Head coach John Mollicone will be assisted by Michael Zonnenberg and Emma Davis. They will have a very talented veteran roster with some key new recruits. Singlehanded ace and All-American, Connor Nelson, will make a run for the National title in the Coed Singlehandeds and will be a strong A-division skipper at the highest-level dinghy events. Jack Murphy and Olivia Belda will make strong supporting skippers with the help of an experienced cadre of crews, led by All-American Julia Reynolds, Maddy McGrath and Madeleine Montagner. The women’s competition will look to maintain their dominance led by Olivia Belda, Caroline Bayless and Blaire McCarthy. The strength of the Bears always seems to be in the talent, conditioning and depth of crews, and this year will be no different. The crewing duties will be led by veteran Emma Montgomery, who won A-division and Women’s Nationals in 2019 and Emilia Ruth.

Harvard University returns in great shape. Head coach Mike O’Connor and assistant coach Bern Noack have made significant improvements to their facility, including adding a massive dock that will store their 18 Z420s and 18 brand new Zim FJs. Harvard retains many of their experienced skippers, but loses four All-American crews. Coed All-American skippers Eli and Henry Burnes will be pushed by Women’s All-American Emma Kaneti. Crews Chris Wang, Katie Barkin, Corinne Lee will see action at the top events. The women’s competition is led by Emma Kaneti and All-American, Sarah Burn with a competitive push from Marbella Marlo and Cordelia Burn. Newcomer Emily Bartlett will likely see significant crewing action.

Dartmouth College Head coach Justin Assad will be assisted by Dirk Johnson and Dartmouth alum Rebecca McElvain. The coed team will look to New England Rookie of the Year and All-American, Boyd Bragg. Skippers Maddie Hawkins, Oliver Hurwitz and Will Michels will look to make their mark on college sailing. They will be supported by veteran leadership in crews Eloise Burn and Aisling Sullivan with incoming crews Yumi Yoshiyasu and Reese Bragg adding depth to the squad. Dartmouth women’s sailors will look to returning skipper Payton Thompson with newcomers Maddie Hawkins and top recruits Gray Hemans and Sarah Young. The young group of skippers will have a veteran group of crews in leadership roles led by Carlota Hopkins Guerra.

Roger Williams University has strength of experience on their side for the coed squad. Head coach Amanda Callahan will lean on skippers Spencer Cartwright, Cameron Wood and Aidan Hoogland as anchors of a team that is always a force in team racing. Depth and talent at crewing will be another strength as All-Americans Emily Gildea, Rachel Holick and Molly Matthews return. The coed squad will be a strong contender in team racing, the same starting team race line up as second-place finishers at Nationals last spring. Team racing guru Colin Merrick will again serve as an assistant coach and will no doubt prove invaluable in their preparation. The women’s squad will bring in some newcomers at skipper including Claire Siegel-Wilson, Michaela O’Donnell, and Caylin Schnoor. Expect them to make great strides in practice against the super competitive coed sailors.

Tufts University will boast the biggest roster in college sailing history. Legendary coach Ken Legler enters his 42nd season at the helm of the Jumbo ship. Tufts is investing heavily in their sailing program to support their giant roster. They have twenty-four Larks, are chartering six 420s for the fall, and buying six new FJs for spring. Coach Legler will look to his strong senior class of skippers on the coed squad. This includes Alex Fasolo, Charlie Hibben, Sam Merson and match race specialist Ansgar Jordon. Leading the coed crews is co-captain Ann Sheridan. The women’s team is very talented, led by skippers Talia Toland and Abbie Carlson with crews Jess Friedman and Caroline Kelly.

Connecticut College Head coach Jeff Breshnahan will enter his 30th year at the helm of the program and has been revamping the layout of the sailing center. The fleet of 18 FJs and 18 Z420s will soon be stored in thirty-six bunkers on floating docks. The team will return a number of experienced starters on the coed team including Juniors Tommy Whittemore (All New England and honorable mention All-American), CJ McKenna and Walter Henry. They will have an experienced group of crews in Margaret Benson, Allie Tillinghast and Katherine Wetzel. The Camels with all that speed and experience will be a force in team racing and will be a team to look out for in the spring. Women’s skippers Ana Clarkson and Aili Moffett will be paired with crews Cece Bohan and Ashley Breyer.

MIT adds a new fleet of Zim FJs and phases out its Fireflies. MIT will also look to add a fleet of Zim e420s in the coming year. MIT brings back a number of experienced women’s sailors that will make their women’s team really competitive. Led by 2019 NEISA rookie of the year Dana Haig, the MIT squad will also look to All-New England skipper Kaila Pfrang and veteran Lulu Russell. Recruits Brooke Schmelz and Lucy Brock could develop quickly and make a push. The women’s sailors have crewing experience on their side with Maile Jim, Grace Mao and Nika Silkin. The coed squad will look to establish themselves in a super competitive conference. Senior skippers John Ped and Alex Abate will be supported by sophomore Sam Bruce. Team Captains and crews Jeremy McCulloch and Elissa Ito will provide team leadership and handle some of the crewing duties on the coed side.

Coast Guard Academy’s director of sailing, Doug Clark, made two key acquisitions to his coaching staff. David Thompson has assumed head dinghy coaching duties and will be assisted by Ali Blumenthal. The duo is formerly part of Dartmouth’s coaching staff and will bring a wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm to the program. The coed team will be led by young and talented skippers Daniel Unangst and Colman Schofield. Veteran crew Mary Tran will add leadership to the crewing ranks. On the women’s side, young skippers Emily Bornarth and Annie Buelt will see plenty of great opportunities in a competitive schedule and will be supported by crews Laura Slovensky and Casey Gale.

Bowdoin College has a newly renovated home facility to enjoy. The completion of the Schiller Coastal Studies Center including Living and Learning Lodge, three dorms, a new dry lab, and significant site upgrade. Head coach Frank Pizzo and assistant coach Corina Radtke will have the helm of the Bowdoin teams again this year. On the coed side, Alden Grimes, Chris Lukens and Thibault Antonietti will see a lot of action as skippers while Hattie Slayton and Meaghan Gonzalez will handle many of the top crewing duties. On the women’s side, Ellie Maus, Teagan Cunningham, and Lizzy Kaplan will be returning as skippers and Gigi Diserio, CJ Ricci will be counted on to bolster the team’s crewing ranks.

Boston University adds Kevin Dooley to head the coaching duties of the Terriers this year. Kevin brings a wealth of experience in a variety of sailing leadership roles, most recently as the sailing director of Corinthian Yacht Club in Marblehead, Massachusetts. The Terriers coed team will look to skippers Tyler Mowry and Micky Munns to lead their squad. Crews Amelia Boivin and Madeline Stull will make their mark on the circuit this year.

University of Rhode Island will again be led by head coach Moose McClintock. On the coed side, skippers Aidan Naughton, Parker Colantuono, Zach Champney will seek out another Nationals campaign this year supported by a group of experienced crews in Taylor Borges and Emilia Marino. On the women’s side, skippers Meghan Haviland and Megan Gimple will pair up with crews Sadie Thomas and Eliza Taylor to make a run at Nationals again this spring.

Northeastern University will again be led by head coach Jonathan Farrar with key returning players. Ted Bjerregaard and Matt Hersey will add experience to the coed skipper ranks with newcomer Abigail Thress in the crewing ranks. The Huskies will capitalize on a new facility arrangement at MIT which will allow them to practice in a fleet of FJs. This will add to their competitiveness in practice and could pay dividends over the season.

SAISA

College of Charleston is the perennial SAISA leader. Expect Charleston to be at the top in SAISA once again and challenge the other strong teams outside of SAISA in Cross Regional events.

Charleston won the 2021 Women’s National Championship, and senior Paris Henken was named the Quantum Women’s College Sailor of the Year, but she will have to be replaced with the up and coming Charleston sailors. They return a young squad in both women’s and coed competition. All-Americans Noelle Owen and Lucy Klempen, along with Roxanne Snyder and Anna Sherry, return as extremely talented crews that will make a major impact on this perennial powerhouse.

Jacksonville University expects to be a contender in Cross Regional events on both the coed and women’s side and has some freshmen recruits to watch out for after graduating much of their Nationals team from 2021. The team named multiple All-Americans and is looking to continue their rapid and steady growth in performance on the water.

N.C. State a first-time qualifier at the 2021 coed nationals, returns 100-percent of its starters, led by skippers Scott Harris and Adam Larson. With the addition of key talent from the incoming freshman class to both coed and women’s squads, 2021-22 is looking to be a strong year for NC State. Isabella du Plessis will lead the crew position.

Miami is inundated with walk-on talent this year and is eager to see how the team shapes up. They were hampered by COVID restrictions in 2021 but are “all systems go” for 2021-22.

Eckerd has a new coach and former Eckerd sailor in Kellen Bernardshould and should rebound quickly as they were completely shut out of competitions for 2020-21. They have a great group of returning seniors but are primarily a young team. This large influx of freshmen will form a strong backbone for this team over the next few years. They are setting their sights on developing a strong team-racing squad.

USF was defined during 2021 by its varsity women’s team, which competed as the club coed team as well, but three of four starters graduated so the team as a whole is in a rebuilding period. Head coach, Allison Jolly, a gold medalist and National Sailing Hall of Famer, will surely prepare this team well in time for Nationals in late spring.

Rollins is continuing its upward trajectory with an influx of talented freshmen and none of their top sailors graduating. Rollins will be competitive within the conference with eyes to expand its calendar to include higher level events.

SEISA

The conference has grown in recent years from nine to sixteen active teams, with new programs coming online and several dormant teams resurging going into the 2021-22 season.

Tulane will be bringing back all of its starters from a successful 2021 season, and will be adding more depth at every position on the roster. All-American Cameron Giblin leads a strong coed skipper squad along with Marcus Huttunen, Thad Lettsome, Quinn Keenan, and Asher Zittrer. All-American Ciara Rodriguez-Horan along with B Division Nationals champ Caroline Benson will return to lead the team in women’s competition. There is quite a bit of depth amongst the crews with the return of Lydia Brown, Grace Siwicki, Gillian Perrell, Andrea Riefkohl-Gonzalez and Kit Stoll, in particular, providing a considerable number of options going into the season. With a near victory at Nationals in 2021, the Green Wave will be on the hunt for podium finishes at the championships this season.

Texas Longhorns have been putting together a much stronger squad than in recent years. Under the guidance of coach, Jeff Brock, we can expect to see the Longhorns at a number of events across the country this season as they try to position themselves for selection to the national championships within the new ICSA system. Look for the coed competition to be led by sophomore Ethan Froelich. Their women’s competition also welcomes back a group that performed well at last year’s championships led by Theresa McComiskey and Karina Bertelsmann.

Texas A&M Galveston Sea Aggies continue to rebuild after the graduation of their experienced sailors from the past couple of years. As such it may take a little bit of time before they develop back into the SEISA power they were not long ago.

PCCSC

Sailing for Stanford for its second-place Coed National win was: Telis Athanasopoulos Yogo '22 and Patricia Gerli '23 in A-division and Michelle Lahrkamp '23 and Sammy Pickell '22 in B-division.

Sailing for Stanford for its second-place Coed National win was: Telis Athanasopoulos Yogo ’22 and Patricia Gerli ’23 in A-division and Michelle Lahrkamp ’23 and Sammy Pickell ’22 in B-division. (Allison Chenard / ICSA/)

Stanford is the clear favorite and top contender in the conference as they will be returning nearly every starter (and multiple All-Americans) including Telis Anthanasopolous Yogo, Michelle Lahrkamp and 2019 College Sailor of the Year Jack Parkin. Stanford currently holds the No. 1 ranking in both the Women’s and Coed disciplines!

All-American crews Sammy Pickell and Patricia Gerli will make a huge difference leading this talented team in addition to Abigail Tindall. On top of that, multiple sailors that took 2020-2021 off will be coming back including former All-Americans Romaine Screve and Wiley Rogers. They will be so stacked, that the main question for newly appointed head coach Chris Klevan will be what to do with all the talent they have on the roster. Their women’s sailors will be a force to be reckoned with, led by 2019 Quantum Women’s Sailor of the Year Michelle Lahrkamp. Every team in the PCCSC will struggle to hang with their starting skippers. This also includes Hannah Freeman, Stephanie Houck, and Grace Austin. Look for Stanford to threaten the top of the leaderboard in every category. Klevan has brought on board fantastic talent to help lead the Cardinals to new heights in Greiner Hobbs and Augie Dale. Both are multiple time All-Americans and finalists for College Sailor of the Year in their senior collegiate seasons, 2018 and 2019, respectively.

UCSB had a program best sixth-place finish at Coed Nationals this past spring. They graduated All-American Quinn Wilson and starter Lucas Pierce, but they are returning a solid core in Ryan Eastwood along with crews Sydney Aguirre, Tristan Richmond and Joe Politi. The key will be the addition of Chris Kayda with crew, Kyla Murphy in B division. Kayda was an honorable mention All-American crew in 2021, but his freshmen year he only got to sail as skipper in a sparse number of events. Time will tell, but the team is deep with multiple team-race squads to practice against. The women’s sailors are young, only returning B division starters Katelon Egan and Lekha Sapers. However, they have solid talent coming that will make them an interesting team to watch.

Hawaii had a really good recruiting year and will be returning coed starter Bastien Rasse, alongside several other returning sailors. They will be adding Ted Knobel and Gavin Ball to the coed list while the women’s recruits will prove to be a potential favorite for the second best in the conference with Mercy Tangredi alongside Sophia Schaeffer, Kyla McLay and Morgan Carew. This is definitely a team to watch in the PCCSC and could make the top two race in the conference a much more competitive top three race.

UC Berkeley had a surprisingly strong pull of women sailors including Claire Wicker, Talia Cohen-Fette, and Victoria Chen amongst others. This team has had a history of making big strides, particularly in women’s sailing, but a lack of a consistent hired coach has hurt their long-term prospects. This season will be a critical moment in their program history as rumor is they are looking for a full-time coach.

University of Washington has entered the PCCSC as an associate member and there is big talk coming from this team and its new coaching staff. The team has brought on coach Joe Petrucci, who has had a very successful past coaching history at Stanford. They have made several moves within their program structure already that will no doubt certainly progress them forward towards a more competitive future, however it may take some time to recruit the landmark class that knocks them into the top of the Pacific Coast Conference.

UC San Diego was one of four teams to compete in the shortened 2020-21 season. They showed up with a full team and a coach with some promising talent that appeared highly motivated. They are a wild card, but the upside possibilities are definitely there. The extra practice from last season will certainly give them a leg up.

UCLA is a dark horse in the conference. They have one high-level recruit that will almost definitely make a difference in the team’s performance if he becomes a committed team member. Additionally, they are extremely close to securing a coach which could be a game changer for them. This team is notoriously well-organized for being 100-percent student run, and it will be fun to see what happens with a little coaching help!

Cal Maritime lost their dinghy coach last season and has yet to find a replacement. While this team would be a top-three team in the conference for both coed and women in a regular year, they will be notably absent from dinghy competition until they find a new head coach. If they can fill the position before the end of the year, look for them to show up with some late season surprise performances.

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