On a glassy calm morning, the Rollins Sailing Tars departed the friendly confines of Lake Virginia to take on their rivals in the first major conference regatta of the fall, the SAISA Open.
The Open brought together schools from the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida in the first of a series of qualifying events for SAISA's Conference Championship the first weekend in November. The Tars came into the Open hoping to improve on last spring's Open performance where they placed 13th.
Breezes were light and the forecast dismal when the Tars arrived on the shores of Boca Ciega Bay. Racing was postponed several times waiting for the wind. But, at about 10:30, a sea breeze made its way across the bay and began to fill sails, and crews made ready to go test it.
The Tars came into the competition with some rust. Hurricane Dorian had shut down the first week's sailing and the Tars had just a single day on the water in the boats to tune up for the big event. That single day was also the first day for new Head Coach Ben Chafee's. However, the Open brought him back to waters he knew well; he sailed on Boca Ciega Bay throughout his college career.
From the start, Coach Chafee was able to advise the Tars on what to expect as the day wore on. By the end of day two, the proof of that was in the pudding, as the Tars adjusted and improved all weekend long. The event was highlighted by a first place finish in race 8 by seniors Nick Baker and Simon Munoz.
The Tars lineup included Baker, Munoz, Corinne Keogh, Fernando Herrera, and the debut of freshman Nate Barrett.
The Tars finished the regatta in 12th place moving up a slot from last spring, and boding well for a successful fall campaign.
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