UH Sailors Making Rapid Rise in Rankings

Water Ways
Honolulu Star Bulletin (04/12/97)
By Ray Pendleton

Go 'Bows!

That's a shout you will hear on many winter Saturday evenings at Honolulu's Aloha Stadium, but on a spring day around Keehi Lagoon? Probably not, but you should.

You should because there is a University of Hawaii athletic team working out and competing on the lagoon that is just as deserving, and perennially more successful than the UH football squad. It is the UH Rainbow Coed Sailing Team.

The team consists of 18 men and women students - five of whom are seniors with All-American potential - who spend many hours at week trying to get the most speed out of their Lasers and Flying Junior dinghies.

With its new training facility adjacent to the Honolulu Community College's state-of-the-art marine technology center, these 'Bows have been honing their sailing skills since last fall near the bridge-end of Sand Island. And as their advances in the national collegiate standings this semester show, the effort is paying off.

Back for his seventh year as head coach, Andy Johnson has said from the beginning that the 'Bows could be one of the top-ranked teams in the nation, and with his assistant coaches Mick Meierdiercks and Guy Fleming, he has set out to prove it.

On March 1 and 2, the sailing Bows started the semester by going up to California for the Stanford Team Race Intersectional and finished tied for fifth with the University of Southern California. Navy, Stanford, St. Mary's, and Charleston took first through fourth respectively. By the end of the regatta, UH was ranked eighth in the nation.

"We showed we had a lot of speed and we beat nearly everyone at least once," Johnson said later. "But it's just the beginning of the semester and I've got plans for when we are going to peak."

Since then, the team raced another intersectional regatta at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia on March 22 and 23, but perhaps due to the 5,000-plus travel miles, it again placed fifth. The 'Bow's ranking fell to 10th.

"Our learning curve was going up," Johnson said. "But I'm afraid jet lag was too much of a factor."

On March 29 and 30, the sailors competed a little closer to home, in Oregon, for the Rainier Cup at Portland State and jet lag was definitely not a factor this time. With a real rainbow shining over the last race, the 'Bows sailed away with first place and their ranking jumped to fifth in the nation.

Last weekend the team was again on the West Coast, this time for the St. Francis Yacht Club Invitational in San Francisco Bay. Of the 36 teams competing, nearby Stanford had entered six teams, compared to UH's three.

After the last race the results were tallied and one of Stanford's teams had taken first place, but of the three 'Bows teams, one had taken second, one had taken third and their freshman team took ninth. Coach Johnson was ecstatic.

At the time of this writing, Sailing World's most recent National Coed Rankings haven't been released, but it is safe to say the UH sailing team will have moved up a few notches in its standings.

For the next two weeks, the sailing team members will again be back off Sand Island hard at practice because on April 26 and 27 they will hosting the Pacific Coast Intercollegiate Yacht Racing Association Championship in Keehi Lagoon.

"We will be near the top in the ranking and we will have the championship in our own waters," Johnson said. "We have nothing but good things to look forward to."


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