Waves wash over the dock as the sea breeze fills in across Charleston Harbor at the ICSA Women’s National Championship this week. For Georgetown’s head coach, Mike Callahan, the selection was obvious, he knew Macey McCann and her stepsister Haden Hughes could handle the tough conditions. In intimidating weather, tough current, and fierce competition, Hughes and McCann had already set themselves apart with their extremely positive attitude, and confidence in each other. “We work really well off the water, we’re best friends, and it translated to the sailing as well,” says Hughes with obvious admiration for her sister’s performance.
McCann and Hughes grew up in Houston, Texas, where they both sailed out of Corinthian YC. The girls became inseparable friends, and eventually family when their parents married, merging a large group of sailing siblings under one roof. Despite coming from the same club, McCann and Hughes do not have a history of racing together. They had tried it once in the 29er at ages 13 and 14, says McCann. “I wish our coach could be here now because I got to crew for her and it worked out pretty well.” It was pure circumstance that the girls got the chance to team up at this event, the strong winds and rough conditions made the perfect environment for this pair to succeed.
“Pretty well” is an understatement. By week’s end and a tough tiebreaker with Boston College, the Georgetown B Division team, skipper Haden Hughes (sophomore) with crew Macey McCann (freshman) and their teammate Haley Shea (sophomore), placed third in their division. Coach Callahan says of the sister duo, “It couldn’t have gone any better, they sailed exceptionally well together. The decision making was great. Macey put her heart and soul into it and of course Hadden was stellar in all conditions.”
Their race strategy was simple: to survive the big breeze and stay confident in their tactics, picking a side of the course to win and making as few tacks as possible. The sisters’ admiration for each other is obvious. “I wouldn’t want to be here with anyone else, because we always know what to say to each other, especially at regattas, when we are competing we calm each other,” says McCann of Hughes.
The Women’s National Championship hosted by the College of Charleston, concluded Friday, May 26. The event offered a variety of conditions for sailors to showcase their strengths. Yale took first overall by 23 points, followed by Boston College, and then Coast Guard in third.