NEW HAVEN, Conn.—The Coast Guard Academy Women's Sailing Team won the 2016 Women's New England Championship for the Jerry Reed Trophy for the first time in program history. The Bears clinched a conference title in impressive fashion, winning both A-Division and B-Division. With the win, they will advance to the 2016 Women's National Championship Semi-Finals in San Diego, CA on May 24.
On the first day of competition, regatta hosts Yale University ran ten races in each division in a northeast breeze that often changed in both velocity and direction. The Bears quickly established themselves among the top group but failed to find consistency in the shifty and unpredictable wind.
Sunday's conditions were slightly steadier but no less challenging. After a short delay, racing got underway in an 8-12 knot southerly with big chop and side current. Knowing they had a large margin to overcome on Sunday, the Bears got to work early, posting consecutive top-5 finishes to slowly claw their way back into the lead.
"It was impressive to see how quickly we were able to chip away at the lead," commented head coach Brian Swingly. "Our game plan was to gain a point or two each race over the course of the remaining twelve races. We did it in half that time, then proceeded to open up a huge lead of our own."
After six of the final twelve races on Sunday, the Bears were tied with Boston College, each with 151 points. Races 14A and 14B showcased the two top teams who were vying for the championship, with the Bears and the Eagles gaining big leads over the rest of the field and then battling each other to the finish line. Coast Guard won both of those races with Boston College right on their heals.
In races 15A and 15B, the Bears posted seven total points to Boston College's twenty-one, opening a comfortable margin over their long time NEISA rivals. They would then go on to win the final races in each division, clinching victory in their first ever Women's New England Championship.
Nikole Barnes and Anna Morin won A-Division with 79 points. They won five of the sixteen races and only finished outside of the top-10 twice. In B-Division, Dana Rohde and Hannah Herring won with 83 points, the only boat in the division to be in double digits. Rohde and Herring put a mere nine points over six races on the scoreboard on Sunday, an astonishing performance to seal the deal for the Bears.
"After finishing a very close second to BC last year, this one feels good," added Swingly. "They have been a perpetual powerhouse in NEISA that we have the utmost respect for. It was a great battle between two great teams. "
With the win, Coast Guard wraps up one of the most impressive regular seasons in women's college sailing history. The Bears took home victories at the Yale Women's Interconference, the Mrs. Hurst Bowl, the Stu Nelson Trophy, and now the Reed Trophy. The team has consistently been ranked among the top-10 in the country and has been as high as first for several weeks in a row in the fall. They will enter the National Championships in May as one of the favorites to win, and with the chance to once again make history for the Coast Guard Women's Sailing Team.