BAR HARBOR — Paige Speight had a first-place finish last week in a college championship semifinal sailing race, a “bullet” in scoring speak. That shot her underdog team to second place in their division after the first two days of races.
Speight, a Mount Desert Island High School graduate and member of the Bowdoin College sailing team, sailed as crew in the “B” boat for the Polar Bears in the competition held at St. Mary’s College in St. Mary’s City, Md. She is a rising junior at Bowdoin, majoring in chemistry.
“This was the first time Bowdoin has ever qualified for the nationals,” she said. “We had to finish in the top nine in our conference, New England Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association (NEISA).” As might be expected, New England is one of the most competitive conferences in the country.
Among the teams gathered in Maryland, “we weren’t even ranked in the top 20 going in,” Speight said. “We exceeded expectations. We’re a solid team and we’re growing and I think people underestimate our team.”
The first two days of the four-day championship are semifinal races. Teams are randomly divided to sail in two concurrent regattas, and “we were actually second in our random conference,” she said, going into the championship final races.
The Bowdoin Polar Bears finished ninth overall of 18 teams in the event.