Stafford Leader Spring Sports Previews

After Young Sailors Gain More Experience, Southern Regional Sailing Team in Good Shape as Spring Season Rolls On

Apr 12, 2019
Courtesy of: Steve Warren (From left) Bridget Green, Brielle Willoughby, Tommy Green, Nate Ertle and Joe Mrazek are the lead crew for the Southern Regional Sailing Team this spring, and coach Steve Warren’s Rams are off to a solid start.

Following a solid fall season during which it registered top-10 finishes in several big regattas, the Southern Regional sailing team entered the spring campaign with a positive outlook. After all, many of last year’s younger Rams gained more experience, which only can help them as warmer weather settles in and the year wraps up with even more big events.

With the graduation of all-state sailor Dana Haig last June, coach Steve Warren’s crew this year found itself in need of the next take-charge skipper to lead the Rams. Of course, as the only senior among them, Tommy Green was one of the likely choices. But last season, Green often was paired with junior Joe Mrazek in B Division races, and it made sense to keep the duo together, especially given their understanding of each other.

So, rather than split up one dynamic duo, Warren simply maneuvered junior Brielle Willoughby and sophomore Bridget Green into the A Division slot, where they could work with junior Nate Ertle when they need more weight in the boat while managing heavy air. And so far, the coach’s shifting has been on the mark, as the Rams are off to a solid start to the season, which got underway with the Icebreaker Regatta in Toms River on March 17.

“We started the spring season in style, winning both divisions of the Icebreaker Regatta and taking team honors by more than 10 points,” Warren said via his report on the team’s Facebook page. “The key to success in the puffy and extremely shifty wind was not so much winning races, but consistently staying in the top while the fluky conditions led to other teams eating bad races.”

Willoughby and Ertle won the A Division by four points with a pair of first-place finishes, a second and two thirds in seven races, while Bridget Green, Mrazek and freshman Alex Klinov took B Division by a point with two first-place spots, two seconds and two thirds.

The following week, Southern led the 17-boat fleet at the Ocean County College Invitational for most of the regatta before Rumson-Fair Haven got to the front of the standings during the final set of A Division races. However, it was Tommy Green and Mrazek to the rescue, as they came through in the B Division’s final set with a first-place finish to win by nine points. Green and Mrazek swiped first in three of six races during the event to push the Rams to the front of the field.

On March 30, the Rams took on the state’s best in the New Jersey Fleet Championship on the Toms River, in need of a top-four finish to qualify for the Mid-Atlantic Championship next month in Annapolis, Md. After a solid start, Southern dropped into fourth place with three races left in each division and in danger of falling short of qualifying for the big race.

But Willoughby, Bridget Green and Ertle managed to keep the Rams within striking distance of a qualifying position, and Tommy Green and Mrazek powered their team back to third place with a pair of second-place finishes and a top spot to close out the regatta. Ranney and Rumson-Fair Haven finished ahead of Southern, with Toms River North not far behind.

David Biggy

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