It was a long grind for the Severn School and Archbishop Spalding sailing teams to achieve their success and goals.
Severn coach Tom Sitzmann started the school’s program in 2005 by buying their own boats and finding a place to practice at Magothy Marina in Severna Park.
Over at Spalding, the Cavaliers began a club team around the same time and elevated it to varsity status this spring after all those years.
It all came together for both sailing teams at the 2023 Interscholastic Sailing Association Baker Team Racing National Championships on Lake Minnetonka in Deephaven, Minnesota, May 20-21.
Severn won the title for the first time ever after finishing second in 2021 and 2022.
Spalding coach Travis Carlisle said he considered it quite an achievement to even qualify for the event.
But Severn’s national championship brought Sitzmann, a Severna Park resident, and the Admirals, a measure of relief. It’s that big a deal with hundreds of sailing teams across the country.
“I think most teams go through life without winning a championship,” Sitzmann said. “It is that difficult. High school sailing has never been more competitive. It’s as rare as a national championship as in any other sport. We have been at it for a long time, and we have come close many times and we have had great teams.”
Senior skippers Kyle Reinecke, Robby Meek, and Sitzmann’s son Tommy guided Severn to two wins each over Mater Dei High School of California (silver), The Hotchkiss School and the Brunswick School, both of Connecticut, to claim the championship.
Those Admiral seniors received support from crew members and juniors Reese Corckran, Helena English and Scarlett Harris as the Admirals finished a perfect 11-0 overall in a 12-team regatta that also featured teams from San Diego, Chicago, the Virgin Islands, Miami, Seattle and Texas.
Seniors Lilly Baker and Jed Lory were put in for the last race.
“It was so exciting to win it,” Meek said. “This past couple of years we have been right there, and we felt we could have done it. It was our last year to do it [before graduation] and it was very rewarding because we put in a lot of hard work and really fought for it.”
Severn’s five seniors – Sitzmann (Stanford University), Lory (Roger Williams University), Meek (Harvard University), Baker (Dartmouth University) and Reinecke (Naval Academy) — will continue sailing in college. That shows the type of talent the Admirals contained on the roster.
“Annapolis obviously is a sailing hub,” coach Sitzmann said, “and one of the biggest ones on the East Coast. A lot of kids come to the program with a lot of sailing experience.”
Severn’s sailors use about a 14-foot boat called the Club 420 and the races last 10 to 12 minutes, according to coach Sitzmann
“It’s a course where you go around four marks,” he said. “There’s up winds, down winds and up winds again.”
Meek added, “The boats are not very fast. It’s all about technique and tactics.”
The Spalding sailors are brimming with pride after earning a berth in the national championships.
Skippers Hugh Carty (committed to Naval Academy), Owen MacWilliams, and Parker Herman and crew Maddie Washburn, Taylor Collison and Christina Pierce led Spalding.
“Going to the Baker Nationals is a big deal,” coach Carlisle said. “Only 12 teams get to go there. There are over 600 high schools in the country that are racing.”
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