CASTINE — The Mount Desert Island High School Trojans came as close to winning Maine’s high school sailing championship as is possible to do without actually bringing the trophy home.
After two days of sailing and 20 races at the Downeast Invitational Regatta last week, the Trojans finished tied with Camden Hills High School for third overall but lost the head-to-head competition, and the state championship, on a tie-breaker.
Tabor Academy and Belmont Hill School, private schools from Massachusetts and long-time high school sailing powerhouses, took the two top spots, with Tabor winning the Jim Modisette Memorial Downeast Regatta Trophy as the overall winner. Camden Hills won the Griff Fenton Trophy as the top Maine school finisher and winner of the Maine Schools Sailing Association Championship.
The regatta is hosted by Maine Maritime Academy, which provides shore facilities and on-the-water race personnel and launch service. Most importantly, MMA provides 20 of its Collegiate 420 dinghies for the race.
Sailing conditions could not have been more different on Saturday and Sunday.
With the threat of a stormy Mother’s Day on the horizon, Maine Maritime Academy sailing coach Caroline McNally and her race committee got the regatta got underway a half-hour early Saturday morning.
The racing began with 20 boats on the starting line in Smith Cove. A steady 10-knot easterly breeze gradually shifted around to the south as the day wore on.
By 4:30 p.m., the fleet completed 16 races, eight in each division, over a four-leg, windward-leeward course with an offset at the windward mark and a gate at the leeward mark.
“Pretty standard,” MDI Coach John Macauley said in a Monday email.
The lead changed throughout the day, and the score remained close, with just 14 points separating the first- and second-place teams, Tabor and Belmont Hills, and with third-place MDI and fourth-place Camden Hills within striking distance.
With storm clouds building, the fleet sailed four races early Sunday morning, two in each division, for a total of 20 overall. The final tally saw Tabor Academy edge Belmont Hill by four points, 103-107. MDI and Camden Hills both finished with 130 points. George Stevens Academy finished 15th overall.
That wasn’t all bad news for GSA Coach Bill Neufield.
“Considering that none of the crews have had experience, we didn’t do badly,” Neufield said in a Monday email. GSA was “able to field a team and stay in the race.”
One bright spot for the Eagles was the sailing of freshman skipper Silas Murnik. On Sunday, she and sophomore crew Marie Boulet finished eighth and second in the last two B-division races of the regatta.
This year, MDI coaches John Macauley and Tom Brown have put together a strong team, and it showed over the weekend. The Trojans sent 10 sailors to Castine, and four of them sailed: skipper Connor Ratcliff and crew Lilly Anderson in the A rotation and skipper Alec Fisichella and crew Lucas Ingebritson in the B rotation.
The A-boat had a bullet on Saturday. The B-boat sailed to one bullet and three seconds in Saturday’s eight races.
MDI had the lead in the state championship on Saturday, but Camden Hills won the final tie based on having fewer points head-to-head overall against MDI.
“This year, we have seen a marked improvement in their boat handling and general tactical skills,” Macauley said.
“It was a close thing, but the bottom line is that the MDI sailors did themselves proud this weekend.”