The 2019 season has been a good one for the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) sailing team. The young and talented Vineyarders have performed consistently well in compiling a 15-7 record and earning a No. 11 ranking in New England. In April, they scored their first-ever victory over Milton Academy (No. 6) and ended the month by qualifying for the O’Day Fleet Racing finals, posting the highest B Division finish in team history. The losses came twice to The Hotchkiss School (No. 1); Tabor Academy (No. 2); The Brunswick School (No. 3); twice to The St. George’s School (No. 3 at the time, now No. 5) and Barnstable High School (No. 13).
On Saturday at the Hyannis Yacht Club, the Vineyarders, in the words of their coach Andrew Burr, “put it all together” and won the Cape & Islands Team Racing Championship. MVRHS finished first in the preliminary round double round robin with a 6-1 record before clinching the championship with a 3-0 mark over Dartmouth, Bishop Stang and Nantucket.
“This event was a huge success,” Coach Burr said. “It was awesome, a lot of fun. It was the best Cape & Islands Team Racing Championship that I’ve ever attended.”
The Vineyarders sailed with three skipper/crew combinations: juniors Joe Serpa and Abigail Hammarlund; sophomores Zach Ward and Trent Bilodeau; and freshmen Miles Wolff and Henry Abbott. In round two, the Vineyarders started off by finishing 1-4-5 to out-point Dartmouth, then went 1-2-4 against Bishop Stang and closed out the meet in style with a 1-2-3 finish against the Nantucket Whalers.
At one point during the second round, the Vineyarders pulled off one of the hardest moves in team racing, referred to as “peeling the banana,” by which the second and third-place boats split the opponent’s fourth and fifth-place boats and sail them to opposite sides of the course. Then, the sixth-place boat sails up the middle, resulting in a 2-3-4 or 2-3-5, both of which are winning combinations.
Winning the league championship unfortunately had no bearing on the final computer and coaches rankings, which came out on Monday. The Vineyarders remained 11th in New England; 13th according to the computer and 9th in the coaches poll. That is more than good enough to earn a place in the postseason. The Vineyarders will travel to Sail Maine in Portland this weekend to compete for the Terk Trophy, open to teams ranked 9-16 in New England. With a strong showing in Maine, this season could be one of the best in the program’s history.