CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – MIT sophomore Robyn Lesh (Everson, Wash.) became the second MIT women's sailor and fourth overall to qualify for the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association (ICSA) Singlehanded National Championship following her sixth-place performance at the New England Intercollegiate Sailing Association (NEISA) Women's Singlehanded Championship last weekend. She joins Danielle Ames '96, who finished fourth in the inaugural championship hosted by MIT, along with Len Dolhert '79 and Peter Quigley '85 in this elite group.
No stranger to championship events, Lesh competed in the 2011 Junior Olympics while in high school where she was the runner-up in the Laser-Radial Fleet. She will make her national debut for the No. 11 MIT women's sailing team on Friday, Nov. 8 in Newport, R.I.
"The event was a challenging and stressful regatta," commented MIT head coach Matt Cohen. "Between the two days, our sailors experienced an array of conditions including light air, medium air, and strong wind as well as changing current and a variety of sea-states. That combined with a strong field of competitors created a true test to determine who was going to represent our district (NEISA) at nationals."
Heading into the very last race, Lesh was four points out of fifth place and held a three-point edge over Lauren Cefali of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, while leading teammate Hanna Vincent (Santa Barbara, Calif.) by eight points. The race was an up-and-down affair with each of the three sailors jostling for position to claim the final spot. Cefali, an eighth-place finisher at last year's national championship, battled with Lesh all the way around the course until Lesh overtook her on the final leg.
"Wow. I qualified," said Lesh, who finished 14th at the 2012 NEISA Championship. "Last year, I had a strong start but struggled during the second half of the competition. Since then, I have been focusing on endurance and strength to keep sailing well throughout the two-day weekend of a laser regatta. Nationals is going to be a full three-day event so my endurance will be put to the test."