St. Mary's College of Maryland won the national intercollegiate team-race championship yesterday against Georgetown University after a protested final.
St. Mary's successfully accused Georgetown, which finished ahead in the final sail-off, of blocking one of its boat's right of way on a starboard tack during the pre-start maneuvers. Georgetown counter-claimed that its crew gave way but a St. Mary's boat continued on course to a near-collision.
The umpires sided with St. Mary's, penalizing Georgetown and giving the victory to the Southern Maryland state college.
The three-day regatta for the Inter-Collegiate Yacht Racing Association's team-racing championship brought sailors from 12 colleges to the St. Mary's River in Southern Maryland.
St. Mary's, which won the championship last year and started as this year's championship favorite, faces the challenge of rebuilding its sailing team. All six sailors in the championship are seniors.
Georgetown sailed with two sophomores and a junior.
"They're [Georgetown] going to be fabulous," said Adam Werblow, the St. Mary's coach who is credited with building the school's sailing program into one of the best in the country.
"They will be the team to beat next year. St. Mary's will be working our butts off to try to qualify."
Match racing involves a sail-off among three two-man crews from two colleges. Tactics include trying to slow the opposition as much as outpacing them. The key is to create a winning advantage for the team rather than pursue individual victory. On the scorecard, a second, third and fourth place beats a first, fifth and sixth, making teamwork crucial.
Georgetown sailing coach Mike Callahan said he directed each skipper in his three-boat team to sail against individual St. Mary's skippers in the final. By matching his sailors' strengths against the perceived weaknesses of the St. Mary's skippers, he brought his boats home in first, second and sixth positions, a winning combination until it was overturned on appeal.
St. Mary's and Georgetown advanced to the finals by emerging 10-1 from a single round-robin competition between the 12 colleges that reached the final from an initial entry of 200.