ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Competing in its first ICSA/Sperry Top-Sider Women's National Championship since 1998, the MIT women's sailing team finished atop the standings in the two-day Eastern Semifinal that concluded on Wednesday. The Engineers' outstanding performance secured them a spot in the finals that kick off on Thursday morning at the U.S. Naval Academy.
In the 14-team field, MIT needed to finish among the top nine to advance to the championship rounds. Following the first day of competition, the Engineers were second in their semifinal group and stood third overall out of 28 squads. In the A Division, which completed six races, junior Chloe Lepert (Belmont, Calif.) and senior Iris Xu (Madison, Wis.) finished second as they won the first two rounds, followed by placements of third, fifth, 12th, and 11th. Senior Hanna Vincent (Santa Barbara, Calif.) and sophomore Lisa Sukharev-Chuyan (Temple, N.H.) won the B Division courtesy of three straight runner-up finishes after opening the regatta in seventh place.
Vincent and Sukharev-Chuyan carried the momentum into Day 2 with two more second-place rankings before clinching victories in the seventh and ninth rotations. The tandem came in fifth in the eighth race and closed out the semifinals with a third-place performance that helped them win the division. Sophomores Robyn Lesh (Everson, Wash.) and Elizabeth Zhang (Lexington, Mass.) took to the water for MIT in the A Division where they recorded back-to-back fifth and 10th place finishes in the final four rotations to claim sixth place.
"It was exciting until the last B-division race," said head coach Matt Cohen. "Our B-division was a clutch pairing for the whole event, but especially today. Doing well on Tuesday and Wednesday has given us the confidence to move into the finals knowing that we can play with top competition."
Racing resumes at 9:30 a.m. with video footage available during the finals, including highlights and updates. Follow the action by visiting 2014nationals.collegesailing.org.