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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, June 1, 2002

UH women sail to second place

By Ann Miller
Advertiser Staff Writer

Rainbow Wahine Sarah Hitchcock, front, and Molly O'Bryan won both their races yesterday at Ke'ehi Lagoon, but Hawai'i couldn't overtake Old Dominion and finished second overall.

Cory Lum • The Honolulu Advertiser

Upcoming races

WHERE: Honolulu Community College Marine Education and Training Center, Ke'ehi Lagoon.


Tomorrow-Tuesday: 43rd ICSA/Ronstan North American Team Race Championship. Defending champion: Georgetown

Wednesday-Friday: 66th ICSA Gill North American Coed Dinghy Championship. Defending champion: Tufts

TIME: Races start at noon the first day of each event, 9:45 a.m. final two days. Last race will start no later than 5 p.m. final day.


University of Hawai'i's "comeback of humongous proportions" was not quite humongous enough yesterday. The Rainbow Wahine fell short in the final race as Old Dominion won its third Intercollegiate Sailing Association Women's North American Championship.

UH went into the final day at Ke'ehi Lagoon 27 points behind ODU, with late Thursday disqualifications pushing it into second ahead of St. Mary's (Md.).

Last year in Boston, the Rainbow Wahine also went into the final day second. By lunch they had the lead and by dinner their first national championship.

This time, in their beloved lagoon, they came up nine points short (ODU's 168 to Hawai'i's 177).

"I sat them down this morning," said UH coach Andy Johnson, "and told them, 'Look, we need to sail a perfect last day and they need to have problems. If we do that, we'll have a chance at the end.'

"And we did."

All-Americans Molly O'Bryan and Sarah Hitchcock — the UH A team —i won their first two races yesterday to shave seven points off ODU's advantage. All-District skipper Jennifer Warnock and Melody Torres — the UH B team yesterday — took second and sixth while the Monarchs' B team was finishing 13th twice.

With teams getting a point for every place they finished, that cut the Rainbow Wahine deficit to two going into the 17th and 18th races of the three-day event.

"A comeback of humongous proportions," was how Johnson described his team's rally, having to yell over the music and noise of a wildly partisan crowd watching from shore.

Ultimately, Old Dominion found the resolve to hold off the Rainbow Wahine's wild rally.

ODU's A division sailors —All-American skipper Sally Barkow and crew Debbie Capozzi — went 1-2 in its final two races to push the Monarchs' advantage back to 12.

O'Bryan, who just graduated and will begin her Olympic campaign when these nationals end, could only watch the B team after that. She had sailed her last collegiate women's race.

"There was nothing I could do," O'Bryan said. "There were moments I was looking the other way. I just wanted to see everyone's reaction rather than see it for myself — the agony of oh, they might make it or they might not.

"But it was cool. We had a nice comeback. We didn't let them just walk away."

ODU breezed in last two races

Warnock nearly won the next-to-last B division race for UH, cutting the deficit to six with a second-place finish. But ODU's Corrie Clement and Anna Tunnicliffe hung tough in the final race, sailing in third.

As they crossed the line ahead of UH, Clement and Tunnicliffe hugged — a sailing disaster averted.

"We just needed to re-focus," said ODU assistant Mark Zagol, who coaches the women. "They had the ability. They'd sailed well prior to today. They just had to dig deep and they did.

"After the second race, they were definitely distraught. They knew we could lose this."

With Hawai'i's tradewinds in classic form for the final day, ODU decided to "go heavy" with Tunnicliffe, a freshman, taking over for Liz Bower in the final two races. The extra weight and power might have made the difference.

"The first race we probably could have been light," Zagol said. "But the second race, which was ultimately the important one, it was good to be heavy."

Warnock said a bad start in the final race also ended Hawai'i's hopes of finding a championship at the end of its rainbow. The growing breeze also hurt her; Warnock is 5-feet tall, 115 pounds.

"I got off to an awful start," Warnock said. "Tried to pull the same start I had the race before and there wasn't a hole in the starting line. I kind of blew it. The other girls (ODU) immediately looked back and tried to find me. They knew they needed to beat me. I saw them watching me. Every pass they were there. They were not going to let me get ahead of them."

The team championships — featuring 3-on-3 racing — start tomorrow at Ke'ehi's Honolulu Community College Marine Education and Training Center. The coed championships begin Wednesday.

All Hawai'i's work — on the water and off — will end Friday. It will have been worth it.

"We'll get a big spread in Sailing World magazine," Johnson said. "I didn't really do much recruiting this year because I figured this would do it for us."

SAILING SHORTS: The 2002 All-American honors will be announced in the next week. UH has had 13 sailors earn 21 All-America honors, including Molly O'Bryan and Sarah Hitchcock. ... Three-time All-American John Myrdal sailed in the 2000 Olympics. ... Old Dominion won the Gerald C. Miller Trophy for its third women's national championship and 12th overall. ... St. Mary's was No. 1 in the most recent women's rankings, with ODU 2 and Hawai'i ninth. ... Old Dominion's average finish in the regatta was 4.7, to Hawai'i's 4.9. ... O'Bryan and Hitchcock were second in the A division with 79 points. Hawai'i's B-division team finished fourth with 98. Sophomores Renee DeCurtis and Jennifer Warnock skippered, while senior Melody Torres and sophomore Lindsay Peters crewed.