Cougar Sailors Win Top National Honors

Cougar Sailors Win Top National Honors

When you’re on a roll, you’re on a roll and the momentum is sweet. That’s how it is for the College of Charleston Varsity Sailing Team these days. For the second year in a row, the Cougars have won the prestigious Leonard M. Fowle Trophy recognizing them as the overall top performing collegiate sailing team in the U.S.

“It’s definitely an impressive accomplishment,” says Greg Fisher, director of the College’s sailing program. “Our team sailed so well in all the events this year. And we were so close in the women’s championship. Our team staged a strong comeback on the final day in that event and only lost first place by virtue of the tiebreaker. For everybody involved, winning the Fowle Trophy again is amazing. It just shows how hard everyone on the team – coaches and sailors – works to be competitive.”

Senior Stefano Peschiera won the LaserPerformance Singlehanded National Championship last fall. (Photo by Grace Adams)

This year’s win marks the eighth time the Cougars have been awarded the Fowle Trophy and it’s the third time they’ve achieved this distinction in the last four seasons. The Fowle Trophy recognizes genuine supremacy in the sport of sailing because each year it’s awarded to the team that performs best in collegiate sailing’s five disciplines – singlehanded racing, team racing, match racing, women’s dinghy competition and coed dinghy competition.

Last fall, senior Stefano Peschiera won the LaserPerformance Singlehanded National Championship with a commanding display of skill. Sophomore Gerald Williams finished second at that event. On the heels of that regatta, the Cougars finished an impressive second at the ICSA Match Race National Championship held in their home waters.

Late this spring, the Cougars traveled to Old Dominion University in Virginia for the back-to-back-to-back national championship regattas, which began with the Sperry Women’s National Championship. The women’s team finished a very close second in that event.

Immediately afterward was the LaserPerformance Team Race National Championship, which the Cougars dominated, led by skippers Peschiera, Augie Dale and Christophe Killian, with Grace McCarthy, Katherine Lounsbury and Elizabeth Pemberton crewing.

The Women’s Sailing Team came in second at this year’s Sperry Women’s National Championship. (Photo by Colin Grey Voight)

The culminating event was the Gill Coed Dinghy National Championships, and the Cougars sailed well enough to finish second, but couldn’t unseat the eventual champions from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The upshot of all these top finishes was winning the Fowle Trophy. In addition, Peschiera was honored as College Sailor of the Year, and he, Dale, Lounsbury and McCarthy each earned recognition as collegiate All-Americans. Annabel Carrington and Pemberton were selected as All-America Honorable Mention crew as well.

For the Varsity Sailing Team, winning the Fowle Trophy is tremendously gratifying. It vindicates hours and hours spent training and practicing each week. During the season, the team travels to compete nearly every weekend. Collectively, this represents a huge effort.

“What’s special,” Fisher says, “is that we’re the only team in collegiate sailing that had a podium finish in all six national events (including the women’s singlehanded championship where Kelly-Ann Arrindell finished third). That’s really rare.”

He adds, “We’ve always been proud of the depth of talent we have on this team. But the greatest thing is how much fun everyone had. We probably had more sailors at the nationals than every other team and all our guys and gals gave 200 percent, whether they were competing or not. That was the best part. These student-athletes just supported each other so well, it makes for a winning formula.”

For full scores from the national championship regattas, visit collegesailing.org.


Featured image: Members of the Varsity Sailing Team celebrate their individual awards as well as the Fowle Trophy win. (Photo by Colin Grey Voight)