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Hampton sailing makes history; Qualifies first time for nationals

The Hampton University sailing team has qualified for the College Sailing Nationals for the first time in program history. The Pirates finished a program-best ninth in the America Trophy recently. The top nine teams qualified for the national regatta, which will be held in San Diego, Calif., hosted by the San Diego Yacht Club May 24-June 4. The Gill Co-Ed Championships are scheduled for May 31-June 3. “It’s like a dream come true,” head coach Alessandro Ambrosi said. “We finally made it after all these years that I’ve been here. It was very tough, because like always we were the underdog. But I’m incredibly proud of my team.”

The Pirates finished with 300 points, finishing ahead of such schools as Cornell (11th, 317), NY Maritime (12th, 370), Virginia (13th, 388), Christopher Newport (15th, 450), Maryland (16th, 474), and Syracuse (18th, 539). St. Mary’s College (Md.) won the regatta – and the MAISA championship – with 192 points. Maximilian Kuester, Giuditta Di Laghi, and Joshua Williams sailed in the A Division, racking up 170 points while recording a second-place finish and two third-place efforts. The B Division – Luca Taglialegne and Elisabeth Kuester – tallied 130 points. The duo recorded one second-place finish, two third-place finishes, and a pair of fifth-place efforts.

Hampton is the nation’s only HBCU co-ed sailing program, and the Pirates compete in MAISA (Mid-Atlantic Intercollegiate Sailing Association). MAISA is one of four conferences within the Intercollegiate Sailing Association (ICSA), the sport’s governing body, and each conference sends nine teams to nationals. The program is in its seventh season under Ambrosi, and the team has won 18 regattas over that span – including seven this season. Prior to the America Trophy, the Pirates had won three straight regattas and four out of five.

“This isn’t the regatta you want to win,” Ambrosi said with a chuckle. “This is the regatta where you want to qualify onto the national stage, then you want to win.” Though this will be Hampton’s first time competing in the College Sailing Nationals, it is not the program’s first time experiencing the event; in 2013, Hampton and Old Dominion co-hosted the regatta at Strawberry Banks.

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