Holding their own

New generation of Queen’s sailors travel to compete at MAISA Championships

Matti Muru sailing.
Credit: 
Supplied by Sailing Energy

When the ice breaks over Lake Ontario, it signals the start of a new sailing season. 

Earlier in May, the Queen’s Gaels sailing team sent four rookies across the border to Ithaca, New York for the America Trophy Regatta — called the MAISA Conference Championships — hosted by Cornell University. 

Matti Muru and Max Willms sailed in fleet A, while Michael Montagnese and Iain Doran-DesBrisay sailed in fleet B. 

Having previously competed against several of their opponents earlier in the year, the Gaels knew they were going up against stiff competition prior to the championship.

“Since most of the people that attended this event had also gone to the Fall MAISA Championship (WAR Memorial), we knew that the other teams were skilled sailors that consisted mainly of third years and fourth years,” said second-year Michael Montagnese.

The weekend started off on Saturday with light but consistent winds coming from the North. In fleet A, Muru and Willms ended the day in fifth place after 16 races, with Queen’s overall ending the day 18th overall.

The Gaels were ready for a strong showing on Sunday, as they were met with similar winds that they experienced the day before. Each fleet managed to finish two races before the wind died out and postponed the following races. At around two o’clock in the afternoon the next day, the wind picked up steam and reached speeds of up to 15 knots while flipping directions. Both fleets took to the water again for five more races but were cut off after just two hours. 

Montagnese noted that the results on paper didn’t accurately demonstrate the team’s capabilities. “The results don’t show it but we did better than we did at WAR, and we learned a lot.”

Muru and Willms showed lots of potential with a second-place finish on the first day but struggled to find consistency throughout the weekend. Montagnese and 

Doran-DesBrisay also showed their skill, consistently finishing around the 14th position. While Queen’s reached as high as 17th on the leaderboard, they finished 18th overall at the end of the weekend. 

This was still a monumental moment in the history of Queen’s sailing, as this was Queen’s first time qualifying for the MAISA Conference Championships in over a decade. 

This was a major learning experience for this rookie-heavy team, who demonstrated that the future of Queen’s sailing  seems bright.

“For the future, we realized as a team we have a lot of growth,” said Montagnese, reiterating the team’s youth and future ahead in the next couple of years. The youngsters are following in the footsteps of alumni that have recently competed on the international level — a point they aspire to reach during their time at Queen’s.

For now, the Gaels have their sights set on progressing in the extremely competitive American circuit. 

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