Six and looking for seven. That’s the goal of Georgetown’s winningest program: the sailing team.
The Hoyas have six national championships and are back in the water with sails blazing. Despite a month of missed practices because of the snowstorms, the squad looks as determined as ever after a strong start. Last season, Georgetown finished third at the team national championships; presently, the Georgetown coed team is ranked second, but is 4-0 against top-ranked Boston College, while the women’s team is ranked ninth.
Head Coach Michael Callahan, a Georgetown alumnus, commented on the teams’ standings.
“Coed performance has been exceptional,” he said. “Our women’s team has started a little slower . but had a big finish [third of 18 top teams] last weekend, which we are excited about, with great individual performances.”
Just two weeks into the season, on Jan. 3, the Hoyas captured their first Rose Bowl Regatta trophy. The Rose Bowl is held in Long Beach, Calif., where 26 collegiate teams and 54 high school teams vie for the top spot. Callahan was understandably delighted with the results.
“It’s so nice for us to go out and perform well, especially because it’s really good for recruiting since the best high school talent in the country is there,” he said.
Juniors Charlie Buckingham and Ashley Phillips won the A Division, and two California natives, freshman Chris Barnard and sophomore Sydney Bolger, teamed up for a second-place finish – just one point off first – in the B Division. Following their Rose Bowl appearances, Buckingham and Bolger were named to the U.S. Sailing Development Team (USSDT). A two-time All-American, Buckingham was awarded the Everett B. Morris Trophy last season for college sailor of the year.
For the Hoyas, the Rose Bowl victory was a prelude for more success to come. On Feb. 21, Georgetown won handily at the first official regatta of the season, the College of Charleston Spring Intersectional. Junior Scott Furnary and sophomore Katy Canty claimed first place in the A Division and a freshman duo, Barnard and Hilary Kenyon, triumphed in the B Division.
The two pairs’ victories are a promising sign for the program, emphasizing the team’s considerable depth. “[Furnary and Canty] have been tremendous – they are the most improved sailors on the team” Callahan said.
He explained that last year, the pair was the fifth boat – two spots out of the typical three-boat starting lineup. This season, however, they are growing into top contenders, which has pushed their teammates – especially the top three skippers – to try to mirror their achievements and deliver positive results.
With so many top competitors on its roster, Georgetown is able to send boats to many regattas each weekend and rack up impressive finishes. Callahan also noted the improvement of senior Hugh McBride.
“He has worked really hard and become really good through the years,” he said. “He is now one of our better sailors at practice.”
The Hoyas have a lot of new talent this season-16 sailors are freshmen. While Callahan admits there is a wide range in experience and skill level that can make for a difficult transition from year to year, he is also optimistic about what lies ahead.
“[Some] are already ready to sail at the top level, which is a really good sign for our team’s future.”
Of course, this season is far from over, and despite the impressive early showings, it is important the team take the broad view – there are still two months of sailing left before championships in June.
“We are seeing across-the-board improvement,” Callahan said. “But it’s a long season, and we need to put things in perspective. Sometimes holding back and focusing on getting better is more important than winning – finishing second or third is ok . if it renews an urgency to improve.”
He addressed Georgetown’s clear goal: to bring home its seventh national championship. “Overall we are right on track,” Callahan said. “We just want to peak at the right time.”