Earlier this month our ESPN team filmed the College Nationals hosted by the New York Yacht Club in Newport, R.I. Teams sailed a total of 36 races, and I interviewed many competitors and coaches. It was fascinating to witness first hand the emotions and intensity of these sailors, and it was clear to me that performing well meant a lot to everyone involved. The support teams and alternates were very much in the game, too. Several times throughout the regatta coaches would substitute sailors. I appreciated the fact that, when someone was pulled, they kept a positive attitude, hoping that the team would do better.
The first two days were sailed in light to moderate southerlies and brilliant sunshine, with the windward mark was set near Fort Adams where several hundred cheering spectators made their presence known. We put onboard cameras and microphones aboard two boats for every race. These sailors are tremendous athletes, very skilled at boathandling.
After 12 races, Boston College held a commanding 17-point lead. But in the first A Division race, that lead was wiped out as BC finished in the back of the pack. Suddenly, there was a battle royale. Georgetown, St. Mary’s, Charleston, Roger Williams and Boston College all had a shot. Georgetown’s Charlie Buckingham proved to be a tower of strength, scoring a first and two seconds in the final three races, while teammate Chris Behm had an 8-5-5 during the same stretch. Georgetown left the field behind, winning by an impressive 31 points. I found it fascinating that Georgetown won with a 6.6 average while Wisconsin ended up 18th with an 11.9 average. This gives you an indication of how tight this regatta was. Only a 5.3 boat average was the difference between first and last.
ESPNU will broadcast a one hour program on July 19 at noon.