The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School sailing team expected to celebrate another successful season last night at its annual team cookout and awards ceremony, held at a private home in Vineyard Haven.
The team ended its season with a winning 13-3 record on May 24, despite not being able to get on the water until the end of March, and missing several meets in the beginning of the season, according to Head Coach Andrew Burr.
One overriding goal for the season was qualifying for the Mark Trophy competition, a regional event that brings the strongest teams together.
“As a season, it was awesome,” Mr. Burr said. “But the stress of getting into the Mark Trophy was pretty present throughout the season. We expected it, and if we hadn’t got in, it would have been a real letdown, based on how good the team is.”
In order to qualify for the Mark Trophy competition, the Vineyarders had to claim a top-eight spot in New England, which is a feat in and of itself.
“It’s very hard — being that it’s only eight spots, and the team racing in New England is very, very good,” Mr. Burr said. “I don’t think that most people realize that this is one of the best teams in the country, team-racing-wise. It’s definitely a top 15 team-racing team in the nation.”
After earning a sixth-place ranking, the team traveled to Hyannis on May 16 and 17 to compete at the Mark Trophy District Championship Regatta. In order to qualify for the national championship, the team had to take first or second place. To qualify for the National Invitational Trophy (NIT) championship, they had to claim third, fourth, or fifth. At the end of the weekend, the team was tied for fifth with two other teams, but due to a tiebreak situation they traveled home in seventh place.
Then the tide turned in favor of the Islanders. A combination of factors culminated in the team earning an invitation to travel to Rochester, N.Y., on May 23-24 to compete in the NIT, a premier sailing event with a depth of competition, with teams hailing from Florida to Chicago to Maine.
“It’s a fantastic event,” Mr. Burr said. “It’s great to be able to get in it, and it’s the second year we were able to go.”
At the end of two round-robin tournaments, sailing against the top teams from New England, the Midwest, and the Mid-Atlantic, the team was tied for first place with the Milton Academy Mustangs.
Due to weather conditions, the teams were not able to get in a third round-robin to break the tie, and the rankings fell to a point system. The tiebreak left Milton with gold and the Islanders with silver.
“I think if we had kept going, I don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t have won,” Mr. Burr said. “But it didn’t end up that way.”
Regardless, claiming second place out of many of the top schools in the region left the team with a lot to celebrate.
“It’s a great team, and they are fantastic, fantastic individuals,” Mr. Burr said. “It’s a great group of young adults. They’re fun to be around, and they’re smart, and they’re incredibly good sailors.”
Mr. Burr planned to present two awards at the team banquet Wednesday night.
The Coach’s Trophy, which is given to the team member whose presence is a positive and great help to the team, was to go to an unsuspecting Ellie Reagan.
“She’s a captain, and she’s always been very bubbly,” Mr. Burr said. “She just makes the people around her happier. Her presence makes everyone on the team better.”
The Founders Trophy, which is given to the most improved sailor, was to go to Adam Bilodeau.
“He’s been on the team for a few years, and he’s always been an incredible athlete,” Mr. Burr said. “He’s come a long way, and he’s been really impressive in a variety of different roles.”
Beyond individual awards, the team planned to celebrate its hard work and success.
“A lot of these guys have spent their entire lives sailing every summer, every spring to get to this point, to be as good as they are,” Mr. Burr said. “I’m sad to see them go. But it will be back to reality next year.”