Women’s sailing places fifth at national championship

May 20, 2021, 9:19 p.m.

The day after the announcement that their program would retain its varsity status, women’s sailing took off to Annapolis, Md. to compete in the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association (ICSA) Women’s National Championship. The Cardinal took fifth overall out of 18 teams competing in 16 races over Wednesday and Thursday. 

Sophomore skipper Michelle Lahrkamp, the 2020 National Women’s Sailor of the Year, was joined by junior Sammy Pickell in the Division A boat. The pair started strong with a third place finish in the first race, and later captured two second place finishes in the fifth and 10th rounds. With their lowest score of the day of 12th in the sixth race, Lahrkamp and Pickell finished the first day’s 10 races in third place with 61 points, with 26 points separating them from first-place Boston College at 35. 

The Cardinal Division B boat was skippered by senior Stephanie Houck alongside sophomore Abigail Tindall. After initially adding 16 points in the third race and 15 in the fourth — putting the Cardinal in eighth place overall — Houck and Tindall turned things around, finishing the final five races of the day in the top 10, including two first place finishes in races seven and 10. They finished the day in ninth place with 79 points, 20 points behind Tulane University in first and only eight points behind a University of Rhode Island and Georgetown University tie in eighth.

Heading into day two with the team sitting in fourth place overall with 140 total points, the Cardinal were just three behind third-place Tulane University, 12 behind second-place College of Charleston and 39 behind first-place Boston College. 

Due to lack of wind Thursday morning, the day two races began in the afternoon, meaning only six races of the planned eight were finished before the race clock ran out. In the A Division, Lahrkamp and Pickell started the day strong with a second place finish in the 11th race while Houck and Tindall added 13 points in the B Division. From there, the gap between Tulane University, then seated at third place overall, and the Cardinal began to grow. The Tulane Green Wave went on to finish in second on the day, just one point behind the national champions of College of Charleston.

In the final three races, the Cardinal sought to hold onto their fourth place slot, achieving a third place finish in the B Division in the 15th race and a fourth place finish by the A boat in the 16th, but were ultimately overtaken by fourth-place Brown University in the end. Stanford’s fifth-place finish with 232 overall points, eight behind the Bears, was determined by Lahrkamp and Pickell taking third in the A Division with 99 points and Houck and Tindall’s ninth place finish in Division B with a score of 133. In what could have been the program’s last national championship, newly reinstated women’s sailing achieved its first top-five national finish since 2017. 

Up next, the Cardinal will head back to Annapolis for the ICSA Team Race Championship on June 2-3.

Maya Somers is a staff writer in the sports section. She is a junior from Seattle, Washington interested in studying Human Biology. She enjoys drinking coffee and watching professional tennis highlight reels. Contact her at sports 'at' stanforddaily.com.

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