MVRHS Sailing preview

Young, promising, the team looks to rise in rankings.

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MVRHS Sailing Coach Andrew Burr and Elizabeth O'Brien work on boat control during practice last week on Lagoon Pond. — Ralph Stewart

The 2017 Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School sailing team is a predominantly young group with lots of potential. Ten students graduated from last year’s team, which grabbed the final berth in the postseason Terk finals, reserved for teams ranked ninth through 16th in New England.

This season, Vineyard Coach Andrew Burr aims for his Vineyarders to finish in the top three of the Cape and Islands League, and make a return trip to the Terk, to be held on May 20 and 21, at Sail Maine in Portland.

As always, the Vineyard schedule is ambitious, filled with a host of regional powerhouses: St. George’s, Portsmouth Abbey, and Moses Brown from Rhode Island, along with Tabor Academy and Milton Academy from Massachusetts.

Seniors Mary Murano, set to skipper the No. 1 boat, and Auguste Pisano are the Vineyard co-captains. Juniors Salyn Yancey, Maggie Mayhew,  Coltrane Leport, Riley Craig, and Elizabeth O’Brien, all crew, also return from last year’s squad.

Coach Burr has a host of promising young sailors on board, including sophomores Katie Morse, Alex Nagle, Colin Henke, and Christian Schmidt, along with freshmen Joe Serpa, Patrick Flaherty, Abigail Hammerlund, Ashley Biggs, and Taylor Trudel.

“I’d really like to be top three in the Cape and Islands, and I’d love to be top 16 in New England,” Coach Burr said. “I’m curious to find out what happens with that group of sophomore skippers, just because I’ve had them for a couple of years now, not only last year but also on the farm team. This is the time of year that things coalesce, and I’m curious to see how they do. They’re very smart. The stuff gets absorbed very quickly. If they can get their boat speed up, they’ll all be really, really good. I’m curious to see which one, Katie [Morse], Joe Serpa, Alex Nagle, or Patrick Flaherty, takes up that role on the third or maybe even the second top boat.”

Also on Coach Burr’s wish list is a berth in the Herreshoff Trophy (women’s championship) at Brown University on May 6 and 7. First, the Vineyarders, with skippers Mary Murano and Katie Morse at the helm, will have to make their mark in the Herreshoff qualifiers at Tabor Academy on April 30.

“It’s Mary’s last chance to do it,” Coach Burr said. “I think it would be a big boost to Katie’s skippering to be able to put together two good events. It would be a lot of fun to see them move on.”

Many of Coach Burr’s younger sailors are in the same boat, so to speak, in terms of skill and experience, which could be a big plus in helping the Vineyarders achieve their goals for the season.

“I’m psyched where we are as a team right now, in terms of our numbers and the group that Jesse [Assistant Coach Jesse Thomas] and I get to concentrate on this year, because they’re all good people, and they’re all close in skill sets,” Coach Burr said. “It makes my life easier as a coach because I know what to work on. They all work together and get better together. They’re all comparable in their sailing abilities, in their team racing knowledge, and their rules knowledge and boat handling, so because of that, it makes it easier to jump from the team race to the fleet race. They’re evenly matched, so they’ll have the ability to challenge each other.”

The Vineyarders sail in home waters for the first time this season on Monday, April 17, at 3 pm in a quad meet with Barnstable, Sharon, and Lincoln Sudbury. The action takes place on Lagoon Pond in front of Sailing Camp in Oak Bluffs.