Severn School finished third at the Mid-Atlantic Scholastic Sailing Association qualifier for the Mallory Trophy.
A few weeks later, the Admiral went out west to the Interscholastic Sailing Association Double-handed national championship and surprised everyone but themselves by placing second.
Head coach Tom Sitzmann made an important lineup that was very impactful. However, Sitzmann said it was more an attitude and mindset change that produced the improved performance.
“This team has come a long way this season. The talent level was never a question, but I do believe the entire team matured and became mentally tougher,” Sitzmann said. “I think our sailors finally bought into the concept of team and everyone contributing. We removed all individual agendas.”
Junior skippers Maddie Hawkins and Mariner Fagan led the way as Severn posted a total score of 135 points, 34 behind three-time reigning national champion Point Loma. Hawkins and senior crew Abby Tindall tied for second in A Division while Fagan and classmate Ryan Wahba were solo second in B Division.
“I am very proud of the team because I felt we sailed a very disciplined regatta and really put it all together,” Sitzmann said. “Our sailors were mentally ready and tough, patient, smart, conservative, and opportunistic throughout the whole event.”
Competition was held aboard Flying Juniors with racing held on Lake Washington, which is located northeast of downtown Seattle. Sail Sand Point, a community sailing facility, hosted the fleet racing national championship with former Olympian Jonathan McKee serving as principal race officer.
Sitzmann described the prevailing conditions as very light, shifty and unpredictable with mostly flat water. Five races were held on Saturday in 3 to 6 knot east-southeasterly winds while nine races were completed on Sunday in a healthier 5-11 knot southerly.
Severn School practices daily out of its sailing center on the Magothy River and routinely encounters similar conditions, which proved advantageous.
The Admirals did not qualify for the double-handed nationals last season and narrowly earned a berth this season after taking third at the MASSA qualifier behind Christ Church in Virginia and the Ranney School in New Jersey.
“This team has learned a great deal about maturity, determination, resilience and – most importantly – teamwork. As good as our natural sailing talent is, it’s these intangible qualities that put us on the podium at the national championship.”
Skipper Jack Egan and crew Jonah Hatt were victorious in A Division by 14 points while skipper Diego Escobar and crew Katie Olsen topped B Division by a whopping 20 points as Point Loma captured the Mallory Trophy for the third straight spring. Christ Church placed third while Ranney was seventh.
Senior Caroline Bayless, junior brothers Sam and Jordan Bruce as well as classmate Addi Harris also sail for Severn, which now heads to the ISSA Team Race Nationals for the Baker Trophy being held over Memorial Day weekend in Portland, Maine.
“This group has come so far, and has worked so hard, they have rightly earned a place among the best Severn teams we’ve ever had, and that’s saying a great deal,” Sitzmann said.