Sailing Team is a Force of Nature

Sailing Team is a Force of Nature

A lot can be discerned in moments of downtime, or at least that’s the way Greg Fisher sees it. Though he resigned as director of the College’s sailing program last summer (to take on a new role as chief operating officer of the U.S. Olympic Sailing Team), Fisher was on hand last spring when his Cougar argonauts vanquished the competition at the 2018 LaserPerformance Team Race National Championship regatta – one of three national championships staged on the James River at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va.

During a break in the competition, Fisher wandered around the little shoreside base his team had set up under a couple of tents. Two of his three top skippers – College Sailor of the Year Stefano Peschiera ’18 and Christophe Killian ’18 – stood in the shade eagerly sharing team-racing strategies with head coach Ward Cromwell. The third, Augie Dale, was relaxing nearby, casually strumming away on his acoustic guitar. Elsewhere, teammates were lounging, laughing, sharing stories and simply recharging.

“It was a perfect moment,” recalls Fisher, who captured it all on video. “That little space was a no-stress zone even though we were in the middle of a national championship regatta – something the team had been training hard toward for months. Everyone was doing exactly what they needed at that particular moment to support our collective success.”

And succeed they did. In the first of three back-to-back regattas, the women’s team turned in a nearly flawless performance over two days of competition in the Sperry Women’s National Championship, ultimately ending up tied with Boston College. (BC won the tiebreaker and thus the event, yet the lady Cougars’ prowess was more than validated.)

Then came the team race regatta, a three-day affair that also went down to the wire. The Cougars needed to win the final contest against Hobart and William Smith Colleges to successfully defend their 2017 title. In that final race, Peschiera and his crew, Grace McCarthy ’18, approached the finish line just behind a rival boat. Nearby, Killian and his crew, Elizabeth Pemberton, sat in fourth place with Dale and his crew, Katherine Loundsbury, in fifth. In the final seconds, Dale and Loundsbury accelerated across the line to seize second place, meaning the Cougars placed 2, 3 and 5 to their rival’s 1, 4 and 6 – a sure victory in this complex and demanding discipline.

The following day, it was time for the culminating event, the Gill Coed National Championship. In modest winds, the Cougars had an uncharacteristically mediocre start, but steadily improved throughout the three days of competition. Though they finished well – securing second place against 17 other teams – no team could unseat the squad from MIT.

Later, looking back on the full season, Fisher was impressed. “It says a lot that our sailors were the only team in the nation to post podium finishes at all six national championship regattas. But it’s even more impressive how they all supported each other. We couldn’t be prouder.”

Ultimately, the Cougars were awarded the Leonard B. Fowle Trophy – for the eighth time – signifying overall supremacy in collegiate sailing. It was definitely a moment to savor.

Featured image: the men’s, women’s and co-ed sailing teams. (Photo by Colin Grey Voigt)