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Web exclusive, May 27, 2011
GSA sailors finish third and 11th in recent regattas

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by Patrick Haugen

George Stevens Academy sent sailors out to two regattas in two states over the May 21 weekend. Both groups had excellent results. “What a great weekend for the GSA sailing team,” said Coach Tom Gutow. “We’re all really proud of this team and how hard they have worked to achieve such good results.”

All five females on the GSA team went down to the 2011 NESSA Women’s Invite (Herreshoff Trophy) in Massachusetts. GSA also sent four sailors to the JV Breakwater Blast May 22 in Rockland.

GSA got off to an incredible start at the Herreshoff. Skipper Courtney Koos and crew Tess Lameyer battled through a tough upwind first leg to get position and then defended well on the second downwind leg, getting to the favored pin-end first to open with a bullet. The second race in the first set was not as dramatic but had the same result. GSA got an excellent start and added boat lengths to their winning margin throughout the race, finishing almost a half leg ahead of the rest of the fleet. That’s when people started to ask, “Who are these girls and where are they from?”

GSA was the only team from Maine to enter this prestigious women’s regatta. Google maps on iPhones soon clued the assembled spectators in to their hometown, and “Where is Castine exactly?” was heard. A few of the spectators remembered GSA as the host team from the previous weekend’s Downeast Regatta that was held in Castine. The eventual Herreshoff winner was Tabor Academy, a school that has 20 sailors in the varsity, 24 in the JV and uses eight coaches for instruction.

Fleet racing regattas are rarely won with just two races, so family members who traveled with the team settled in for a long day of trying to stay dry in the foggy, rainy, overcast but breezy weather. It was cool on the water but the breeze was steady and fairly predictable; actually very good sailing conditions.

The GSA “B” fleet boat had a three-person rotation of Katherine Doyen, Meredith Houghton and Clover Slagle, with Katherine as skipper, Meredith crewing for Katherine and skippering with Clover as crew for both.

The “B” boat was not as competitive with the Northeast’s top women’s teams, but did get a ton of experience and got to see via their own teammates’ experience that success is very possible for the team that works hard. “It was absolutely worth being there,” said senior skipper Katherine Doyen.

Koos and Lameyer had an incredible run of finishes: 1, 1, 2, 6, 12, 5, 3, 1 with the 12 a result of being over the start line early and having to come back and restart. A final drive in the last set showcased the skills of the girls from Maine. They had good starts with speed, smart and strategic decision making on the fly, and excellent boathandling all on display, according to the coaches. Those results were good enough for a second place finish in the “A” fleet among the best female sailing racer’s in New England.

“I felt like we had a really solid day of racing,” said Koos; while Lameyer reflected, “Yeah, I feel pretty good about this regatta.” GSA finished 11th overall.

In the second regatta, hosted by the Rockland Community Sailing Center at the Apprenticeshop on Rockland Harbor, 11 teams from seven schools each sailed the “Breakwater Blast.” Each school had at least an “A” and “B” division boat that sailed four races in light to moderate winds with a slight chop.

GSA placed a strong third overall, with “A” division skipper Gordon Lameyer posting third and fourth place finishes as his best scores to keep GSA in contention. Colin Dupee was the crew for the “A” boat.

The “B” division boat, skippered by Nicholas Steenberg and crew Julius Tiesler had a break-out day. Steenberg and Tiesler, performed very well in the “B” fleet with finishes of first, second, fourth and third, ending up second in the “B” fleet.

A port/starboard infraction in the third race erased a strong closing finish for the GSA team. Steenberg and crew were rapidly making up distance at the close of the third race and inched ahead within 10 boat lengths of the finish, only to have to do two penalty circles for the infraction, setting them back to their fourth place finish.