UBC Places 2nd in Conference Championship, Qualifying for 3rd consecutive US Nationals

UBC Thunderbirds Sailing SC took Seattle by storm this weekend at the NWICSA Coed Conference Champs. The team competed against home team University of Washington, as well as other division rivals, Western Washington University, Oregon State University, University of Puget Sound, and University of Oregon. Each team sent one boat composed of four primary sailors, with many teams, including UBC, opting to also bring one or two spares. The six teams were incredibly tight the entire weekend, with UBC securing its 2nd place spot by only two points.

“It was a tough day, super frustrating conditions. We had some bad luck early but thankfully Hanno and Steph were dominating the first bit and we managed to pull it out late against some pretty good teams.” – B fleet skipper Richard Minielly.

The qualifying team posed triumphantly after being told they were 2nd overall

Following a vote by teams on Saturday morning, the regatta was amended to a single round robin, with each fleet sailing 6 races. This put the pressure on to perform, and seniors Hanno Kite-Powell and Stephanie Stearman came out strong with 5 points in their first two rotations, a 1.25 point/race average. Rookie skipper Richard Minielly and Senior Gregory Woollgar had less luck in the opening rounds, putting up two 4th place finishes in their opening round and a regatta lowest 5th in their third race before improving to 2, 1, 4 for their final three races and finishing with a respectable 3.33 point/race average. Stearman and Kite-Powell had some bad luck in their final round, registering a Did Not Finish in their fifth race after incorrectly rounding a mark, despite leading the race by a considerable margin at one point. They returned to podium level finishes with a 3 in their final race and finished with a 2.50 point/race average.

“We were dealt with some tricky light conditions, but so was every other boat. So we gave extra focus to decisions we were making and tried to sail smart.” – B fleet crew Gregory Woollgar


This chart shows just how close the fleet was, with UBC tying Western Washington at several early stages

Stearman, Minielly, Kite-Powell, and Co-Team Lead Janie Velghe, who came as an alternate crew and club representative for the NWICSA conference meeting Saturday night, practiced at Jericho on Friday morning in preparation for the event, going through the basics and calming nerves before the championship event. Going into the regatta the team was optimistic, although tensions were high in the unpredictable conditions. Velghe noted, “It was hard to judge positions on the shore due to the conditions. No one seemed fully in phase an entire race, even the stronger teams. Boats would do similar things with very different results, which made for interesting and unpredictable races. It gave boats who deviated from the fleet opportunities to make some strong moves.” These challenging conditions also gave a leg up to the home team and event winner Washington Huskies, who practice regularly at Sail Sand Point, the venue for the event.

UBC was highly competitive in both fleets, narrowly beating OSU and WWU

The team is now looking to the Gill College Sailing Coed National Championship held in Charleston, South Carolina on May 30-June 2. This will be the third consecutive year that UBC has attended the US Coed Nationals, competing previously in San Diego and Newport, Rhode Island. The team also competed in the US Women’s Nationals in 2014, an event attended by Stearman in her freshman year. UBC has not historically had a good record at American national championships, something they look to change this year. The event is traditionally dominated by east coast schools, who have larger expenditure on sailing and a much more rigorous schedule, although UBC won the Henry A. Morss trophy awarded to the top team in 1964. The University of Hawaii was the last school outside the eastern seaboard to win the event in 2004. More updates will become available as the team decides its nationals roster and makes travel plans.


To see the result from this weekend’s NWISCA Coed Championships check: http://scores.collegesailing.org/s17/nwicsa-co-ed-championships/

For more information on the Gill College Sailing Coed Championship visit http://collegesailing.org/championships/coed or




Article by Richard Minielly