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Maine Sailors Top the Podium in L.A.

Monday, March 11th 2024

Maine Sailors Top the Podium in L.A.

The Maine Maritime Mariners navigated their way to a first-place finish over nine other college sailing teams taking part in the 2024 POLA Harbor Cup, a intercollegiate invitational event at the Los Angeles Yacht Club.

According to a roundup from LAYC, racing began Friday, March 8, with steady breezes and moderate chop—ideal conditions for sailing the Catalina 37 fleet. The course was set off Point Fermin, giving the co-eds rousing offshore sailing conditions.

The College of Charleston team had a grasp on first place at the end of the day, with Navy and USC tight astern.

Idyllic conditions continued Saturday with a grueling five races in a building breeze, as Maine Maritime edged out the Cougars, joining the Midshipmen and Trojans at the top of the leaderboard.

Racing on the final day of the three-day regatta commenced in a lighter breeze than the prior, giving the 10 teams a new challenge in the 37-foot Catalina keelboats. In the penultimate race, USC’s consistent performance saw them clinging to the top of the leaderboard by the slimmest margin, followed by Navy and Maine Maritime.

“Our first day was really just kind of jitters for us,” Maine Maritime tactician Nalu Ho admitted. “It's been a while since we've been sailing and we just had some silly, goofy mistakes. But credit to our amazing team, they held strong, believed in each other, and loved each other through all that, and just kept positive.”

Everything fell into place the second day, he explained, and by Day Three and the final three-lap race, the Mariners were a battle for the gold.

Maine Maritime Skipper Zach York continued, “Starting the last race we had USC right above us, and wanted to pinch them off at the start: but weren't really able to. But going up that first beat we were able to slam dunk them in between two other boats and that really messed them up on that first windward leg.”

“The tactician and team got us in the right position, at the right time, and we were able to extend above the layline, tack and crush the fleet. Our spinnaker trimmer did a great job telling me what he was feeling; we were all communicating really well. That was one really good takeaway from the regatta: communication. That really helped us get from sixth to first,” added York.

Patrick DiLalla, who has served as the Maine Maritime coach for just over a year, looked proud as he commended his team, “The first day they did well enough to stay in the hunt, just feeling out the course; but by the second day they’d figured it out. The goal was to be ‘in it to win it’ on the final day and it came to a showdown between the three top teams today. I told them to just go for it, and they brought it home.”

The POLA Harbor Cup was founded in 2008 to provide young men and women the opportunity to enjoy competitive offshore sailing, with a focus on Corinthian values, sportsmanship and ocean stewardship. It is hosted annually by the Port of Los Angeles, California State University Maritime Academy and LAYC, which provides expert race management and comprehensive hospitality.

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