NATIONAL CHAMPIONS! Offshore Sailing Wins Kennedy Cup
After winning the prestigious McMillan Cup three weekends prior, the offshore sailing team backed it up by completing an impressive comeback to win the Kennedy Cup and become national champions. This marks the second time in program history that the Privateers took home the Kennedy Cup, with the first one coming in 1983. Maritime arrived to Annapolis, MD Thursday night and allowed themselves to get in a great practice session Friday in preparation for the upcoming regatta the next two days. However, it didn't get off to the start they were hoping for. "We all went to bed Friday night really stoked about going out the next day," said senior skipper Kyle Comerford (Annapolis, Md/Annapolis). "We went out and finished eighth in the first race though. We just didn't have our priorities of where we wanted to go." It was tough racing conditions Saturday morning and Maritime was forced to adjust after it was decided there would be no genoas and no spinnakers. "It was extremely tough conditions on Saturday and the team was forced to adapt on the spot," said coach Zach Runci. "I was really proud of the whole team for their decision making and for what they were able to accomplish under difficult circumstances." Hoping to come back stronger in the second race, the Privateers came off the line clean and rounded the top mark in second. Unfortunately, Maritime ran into an equipment failure when one of its jib sheets broke, which caused them to go into a crash tack. Peter Mosconi (Brooklyn, N.Y./Xaverian) ended up getting knocked off the boat at this time, but Comerford and the crew was able to complete a successful man overboard drill and Mosconi safely returned to the boat. The Privateers retired from the race and it was looking dreary for the team. "It was a really nerve racking start," said coach Kevin Cahoon. "Everybody has a bad race at some point and it was really fun to watch them come from behind. The team never gave up and I'm really proud of how they responded after the first two races." Despite the shaky start, Maritime was able to regroup and finished the day with back-to-back first place finishes. However, finishing the day with an eighth place finish, a disqualification, and two first place finishes would still be a near impossible comeback to complete. Luckily, the Privateers filed for redress and won. This changed the disqualification to a fourth place finish, the average of their scores from the day. Heading into Sunday, Maritime was in third place, but just two points back from Navy. The opening race on Sunday was tough for all the teams as winds were shifting anywhere from 25 to 40 degrees with a velocity of about eight knots that continually died. The Privateers got off the line clean, but were on the wrong side and rounded the top mark in fourth place. Comferford was then able to pass his younger brother on the College of Charleston boat on the downwind leg and moments later they moved past the Cal Maritime boat as well to round the top mark in second. Going into the last downwind, Maritime took the right side and Navy went to the left. The Privateers jibed and got a perfect puff, which allowed them to pass all the other boats. Heading towards the finish line, the wind had died down to three knots and the Privateers were gliding at a speed of about 1.2 with everybody else moving much faster and closing the gap quickly. Luckily, Maritime was able to cross the finish line first just before the other teams could catch up. "If that race was about 10 feet longer, we would have finished second or third," said Comerford. "It was a really exciting finish and it ended up being the difference maker." The breeze was never able to fill back in and no more races were able to happen. With three straight first place finishes, the Privateers completed the comeback and took home the Kennedy Cup for the first time since 1983. "It's been one hell of a season," said Comerford. "Coming into the season the offshore team had a great crew, but they didn't have a driver. During the preseason I made the choice to switch from Dinghy to offshore and we were able to work towards this moment all season long." Offshore team captain Jeffery Ellington (Ft. Myers, Florida/Fort Myers) also added, "Everyone did what they had to do and then did it two times better. We have come a long way as a team this year, but an even longer way as a family. I couldn't be happier with how well the team performed." "Myself and the entire staff couldn't be more proud of this team," said Runci. "They had a phenomenal season and to win the way they did was incredible. It's still sinking in that we were able to sweep the McMillan and Kennedy Cup for the first time since 1983." The crew consisted of Miller Condrack (Siesta Key, Fla./Out of Door Academy), Jeffery Ellington (Ft. Myers, Florida/Fort Myers), Peter Mosconi (Brooklyn, N.Y./Xaverian), Garrett Bolton (Fair Haven, N.Y./Red Creek), Paul Monks (Trumbull, Conn./St. Joseph), Bailey Kerr (Charleston, S.C./Hanahan), and Daniel Watkins (Phoenix, N.Y./C.W. Baker). With the win, Maritime qualifies to represent the US in the Student Yachting World Cup next fall in France.