The Vineyarders have a smaller group of sailors this season than in years past, but carry a good mixture of experience and promising newcomers.
Head Coach Andrew Burr is at the helm for his 13th season, aided by Coach Andrew Nutton, director of programs at SailMV, and has five very competent skippers on the roster, starting with co-captains Joe Serpa (junior) and Katie Morse (senior), along with senior Alex Nagle, sophomore Zach Ward, and freshman Miles Wolff.
On crew, the Vineyarders have senior Christian Schmidt, junior Abigail Hammarlund, sophomores Trent Bilodeau, Ava Maggi, and Ashtyn Watts, homeschooled Tain Leonard Peck, and freshmen Henry Abbott and Ingrid Moore.
“It’s a good group, good kids,” Coach Burr said. “I’m curious to see how this group congeals. The smaller group is a good and bad thing. It makes life a little easier for Andy and me as far as doing combinations.”
The Vineyarders will again compete in the Cape and Islands League along with Barnstable, Bishop Stang, Cape Cod Academy, Dartmouth, Dennis-Yarmouth, Falmouth, Monomoy, Nantucket, Nauset, Old Rochester, Sandwich, St. John Paul II, and Sturgis.
The non-league schedule is, as usual, ambitious, and filled with regional powers, including Milton Academy and Tabor Academy; Moses Brown, North Kingstown, and St. George’s from Rhode Island; the Brunswick School, Greenwich Academy, Greenwich High School, Hotchkiss and Staples from Connecticut; and Cape Elizabeth, Cheverus, Falmouth, Isleboro, and Portland High School from Maine. A victory over any of these schools could play a crucial role in the Vineyarders clinching a postseason berth, which requires being ranked in the top 16 in New England at the end of the regular season.
“I don’t see why we don’t have a legit shot at the top 20,” Coach Burr said. “It really comes down to beating a top 10 team. It doesn’t help to sail weak teams anymore. The computer goes ‘boo.’”
The Vineyarders, who have competed for both the Mark Trophy (now called the Presidents Trophy), for teams ranked 1-8 in New England, and the Terk Trophy (teams ranked 9-16) in the past decade, have established a solid reputation. “Teams want to schedule us,” Coach Burr said. “You’re always going to get a good, competent team out of the Vineyard. They know the rules, they’re good sailors, and they show good sportsmanship.”
The season begins in Greenwich, Conn., on March 30 with an “eight x” meet (eight teams competing). The Vineyarders then travel to Portland, Maine, for another eight x meet on April 6, before hosting Sandwich on Lagoon Pond in front of Sailing Camp in Oak Bluffs on April 9.