By Jon Faudree, head sailing coach

JU traveled last weekend to Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla., for the South Atlantic Intercollegiate Sailing Association Open, facing 20 schools in one of the year’s biggest regattas.

It was a perfect weekend for sailing with temperatures on both days in the high 70s and winds between 8-15 knots. Sophomore transfer Roy Ingham and senior Dan Moore started in A-Division, freshman Matt Martin ultimately switched in for Moore to crew the second half of the regatta, and freshman transfer Alex Steo skippered the B-Division boat with sophomore crew Karolina Dzieniszewski.

It was Ingham and Steo’s first regatta in a year and their first in FJs (there are two types of boats primarily used in college sailing — 420s and FJs; JU has 420s and Eckerd uses FJs), so there was a period of adjustment as they learned the differences between the boats. The team responded incredibly well, posting the best finish in JU’s history, ending the regatta eighth of 20, six points behind Clemson, and beating North Carolina, Auburn, Georgia, Florida State and Duke.

The team has a lot of room for improvement, and with more confidence, practice, and fixing some technique and strategic issues this spring, the team has a real possibility of finishing in the South Atlantic Intercollegiate Sailing Association top five.

JU was certainly the surprise of the regatta. As a sailor from New College of Florida commented, “I used to be able to keep up with JU… this weekend I wasn’t even close!”

The JU sailing team is off this weekend to attend the Winter Alumni Gathering event and will be at the University of Florida next weekend for the “Old South Regatta.”