Severn School Wins 2024 ISSA Mallory Doublehanded National Championship


In a full-rotation 40 race series, hosted by the College of Charleston sailing team in Charleston, South Carolina, Severn School emerged from a competitive and challenging regatta to claim the 2024 Interscholastic Sailing Association (ISSA) national doublehanded championship on June 2.

Severn School’s team consisted of five seniors, Helena English, Scarlett Harris, Ava Cornell, Reese Corckran and John Szynal, along with sophomores Annie Sitzmann and Alex Baker, and one freshman, Harrison Szot.

Twenty teams from across the country competed under mostly sunny skies at the College of Charleston sailing center. On June 1, an easterly wind at 6-17 knots and the usual Charleston current convinced the race committee to set up south of their normal venue. Regatta organizer Greg Fisher commented, “the principal race officer (PRO) led the sailors around the corner (of Patriot’s Point) to the infamous Crab Bank. Known for its challenging conditions, Crab Bank didn't disappoint. The shifty winds and dynamic currents created a thrilling arena for the sailors. A-Division started in FJs and the B in 420s, and 12 races were sailed in both divisions. Leaders shifted throughout the day, finally ending Saturday with 12 races completed. Ransom Everglades (Florida) led after day one, with others very close behind.” This included Severn School, which ended Saturday in third place overall.

On Sunday, June 2, a southerly wind allowed the race committee to set up right off the main dock, next to the carrier USS Yorktown. As usual, strong currents and a mildly shifty wind of 6-12 knots offered both challenges and opportunity to all teams. Eight more races per division were sailed, completing the full 20-race rotation with plenty of time to spare. Severn School seemed to be on a mission on Sunday, taking the lead after the first set of races, and then holding on in what again was a thrilling, nail-biting finish. Severn School won this competitive regatta, edging out Antilles School (St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands) in second and St. George’s School (Newport, Rhode Island) in third.

Sailing for Severn in A-Division was Annie Sitzmann and Helena English, and in B-Division, Harrison Szot and Scarlett Harris. These four sailors found a groove and rhythm, never looked back, and sailed every race in the regatta. Backed by veteran crews, both winning a national championship last season in team racing, these two young skippers performed well in their first time at a national championship regatta.

Last year, Severn School graduated five of the best sailors the team has ever had, architects of Severn’s first Baker Team Race National Championship, and this year looked to be one made for rebuilding.

“This was not something, I think, many people saw coming or thought could or would ever happen,” noted coach Tom Sitzmann. “At the district qualifier regatta, in fact, on Saturday, we were at one point a distant eighth place overall, and it looked bleak that we would even qualify for the Mallory. To be here from there is really awesome, and it is a great testament to the determined character of these players. I would say we were overachievers, and I mean that with the greatest respect and admiration.”

This impressive, seemingly improbable championship adds to the growing legacy of Severn School sailing and to coach Sitzmann. In his tenure, Severn has now won six national championships: three Cressy (singlehanded), one Baker (team racing just last year) and now two Mallory (doublehanded). Added to that are three Atlantic Coast Championships, 17 national championship podium finishes, and 29 district championship wins.

What’s the secret?

“The secret, of course, is that there is no secret,” coach Sitzmann said. “We are lucky to be able to train together, and as everyone always says, it’s hard work, and sometimes hard work pays off in ways that you may not even have considered. We have a simple team philosophy that we try to uphold and really that’s it. It is not easy, and we have had our share of hard times and disappointment, but either way, we try to follow the process.”


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