Portsmouth Abbey sailing team takes 4th at nationals

Portsmouth Abbey sailors at the ISSA Team Race Nationals in St. Petersburg Beach, Fla. In the back row (from left) are Michael Madigan '13, Frank Loughran '15, Andrew Sheerin '15, Graham Kilvert '15 (Barrington) and Hugh MacGillivray '14 (Portsmouth). In the front row (from left) are Peter Barlow '13 (Warren), Abby Byrne '14, Bailey Carter ’15 and Derek Poon Tip '15. Portsmouth Abbey sailors at the ISSA Team Race Nationals in St. Petersburg Beach, Fla. In the back row (from left) are Michael Madigan '13, Frank Loughran '15, Andrew Sheerin '15, Graham Kilvert '15 (Barrington) and Hugh MacGillivray '14 (Portsmouth). In the front row (from left) are Peter Barlow '13 (Warren), Abby Byrne '14, Bailey Carter ’15 and Derek Poon Tip '15.

Portsmouth Abbey sailors at the ISSA Team Race Nationals in St. Petersburg Beach, Fla. In the back row (from left) are Michael Madigan '13, Frank Loughran '15, Andrew Sheerin '15, Graham Kilvert '15 (Barrington) and Hugh MacGillivray '14 (Portsmouth). In the front row (from left) are Peter Barlow '13 (Warren), Abby Byrne '14, Bailey Carter ’15 and Derek Poon Tip '15.

Portsmouth Abbey sailors at the ISSA Team Race Nationals in St. Petersburg Beach, Fla. In the back row (from left) are Michael Madigan ’13, Frank Loughran ’15, Andrew Sheerin ’15, Graham Kilvert ’15 (Barrington) and Hugh MacGillivray ’14 (Portsmouth). In the front row (from left) are Peter Barlow ’13 (Warren), Abby Byrne ’14, Bailey Carter ’15 and Derek Poon Tip ’15.

PORTSMOUTH — Portsmouth Abbey’s sailing team finished fourth at last weekend’s Interscholastic Sailing Association’s (ISSA) Team Race Nationals, held in St. Petersburg Beach, Fla., marking the best finish ever for a Ravens team in any sport.

The Abbey sailors competed in 420s over two days against 11 of the top high school teams from around the USA for the 2013 Toby Baker Trophy. The team advanced to the Gold Fleet round on Sunday after beating out sailors from California and Massachusetts on the first day of racing, and finished fourth overall on Sunday behind national champions and perennial powerhouse Point Loma HS (San Diego, Calif.), Antilles School (St. Thomas, USVI), and Broadneck High School (Annapolis, Md).

The Ravens had made it to Nationals by winning the New England Schools Sailing Association’s (NESSA) Team Racing Championships over the weekend of May 18-19, bringing home the Fritz Mark Trophy for the first time in the 39-year history of the event.

“I am very proud of this team and the work they put in all season,” said Portsmouth Abbey sailing coach Suzi Duncan. “One of our goals this year was to qualify for Nationals, and I think the team now has a much better understanding of what they need to do in order to keep achieving such high goals in the years to come. In my five years of coaching at the Abbey, I have had the pleasure of working with many talented sailors who have been successful here and gone on to sail competitively in college.

“However, this 2013 team has been the one that most embraced the ‘team’ aspect of team racing. They work well as a group and have focused this year on communication, knowledge of the rules and calls, and committing to sailing the plays.”

Portsmouth Abbey Athletic Director Al Brown lauded the sailing team’s noteworthy accomplishment.

“Placing fourth at the Nationals is arguably the most outstanding achievement by any athletic team in Portsmouth Abbey history,” he said. “It goes beyond league championship wins and New England wins. To finish fourth in the country is truly something special. Our sailors and their coaches have worked hard this season, and the Abbey community is proud of them for reaching this milestone.”

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