CASTINE — The Maine Maritime Academy Mariners sailing team opened their spring season taking on teams from Bates College and the University of Vermont in a two-day combined event including an afternoon of ski racing on Saturday and a day of sailboat match racing on Sunday.
MMA edged out Bates to win on the snow and finished one point behind UVM on the water to win the combined event by a single point over the Vermont Catamounts. With any luck, the weekend win will carry over to the team’s performance in its first formal event of 2016 — the Port of Los Angeles Harbor Cup Regatta, scheduled for March 11-13.
Sunday’s regatta was a match racing event with each school sailing two races against the others in the academy’s Elliott six-meter keel sloops. Those are the same boats used by the U.S. women’s sailing team in the 2012 London Olympics.
The day began with a slight overcast, MMA Sailing Coach Caroline McNally said, that eventually gave way to sun and a 5-to-8-knot breeze.
“We started off racing in the channel” in Castine Harbor, “but as the wind went light and the tide picked up, we moved over towards Smith Cove.” After two round-robin races, the regatta was decided by a final race between UVM and MMA to decide the day’s winner.
UVM, “by far the strongest boat out there – their boat handling was top notch,” finished at the top of the fleet with “a solid performance,” McNally said.
The Mariners brought five students to the event, with one of Saturday’s four skiers replaced by another teammate in Sunday’s racing. All sailors were new to match racing “which made for a great learning platform,” according to McNally.