It’s not a varsity team, but it might as well be one.
Penn sailing competes under the title of a club team, but if its rankings are any indication, the squad is one of the most successful club athletics’ programs in the country.
Sailing mainly against schools with varsity teams, the Quakers have consistently found themselves near the top of the national rankings over the past several years.
The women’s team is currently ranked 16th in the country, while the co-ed unit stands as the 25th best team nationally.
One key reason for the team’s achievements so far this year has been the success of sophomore skipper Lenox Butcher, who placed 2nd in the Mid-Atlantic Intercollegiate Sailing Association (MAISA) Women’s Singlehanded Championship in September.
Butcher’s impressive finish in this regatta earned her a spot in the Intercollegiate Sailing Association (ICSA) Singlehanded Nationals, which will take place on the weekend of November 4 in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Butcher already has experience in the national spotlight, having sailed to a ninth-place finish in Nationals as a freshman last year.
“I thought it was cool to compete against the top kids around the nation,” Butcher said. “I knew I could have done better, but I was still excited with how I did.”
The sophomore has her sights set even higher for the championship this year.
“Last year, I was kind of overwhelmed by the transition of college, and it threw me off a little bit,” Butcher said. “Now I’m focused on what’s to come, and I’ve put in a lot of training, so hopefully I can finish in the top five or even top three.”
As if Lenox’s accomplishments weren’t already impressive, her older brother Keen is an outstanding sailor in his own right.
The senior skipper finished sixth overall at Laser Elimination in late September, which qualified him for the Carl van Duyne Conference Championship, where he earned a ninth-place finish.
The sibling duo is sure to make a splash for the remainder of the fall season. The Butchers, however, are not the only ones leading the Quakers to prominence.
In particular, the tremendous leadership of the captains cannot be overstated. Juniors Max Slosburg and Raemie Ladner (captains of the co-ed team) and sophomore Ava Esquier (women’s team captain) have made great strides to ensure that the squad stays on track.
Penn faces the additional challenge of not having a full-time coach, meaning that many of the administrative responsibilities fall on the captains.
Lenox Butcher discussed the team’s hopes regarding this situation.
“We’re looking forward to getting more resources for the team and getting more support from the school when it comes to working out logistics,” Butcher said. “Right now, the captains do a lot; everything they’ve done is really incredible.”
This student-run team dynamic has brought the Penn sailors closer as a unit, so much so that they are still capable of beating varsity teams with full-time coaches.
The Red and Blue will look to finish this historic year with a bang by climbing even higher in the national standings. They have four more weekends to do so, as the final events of the fall season will take place on the weekend of November 11.
Butcher, for one, is confident in the Quakers going forward.
“We have a lot of potential on the team with a bunch of really great kids this year and more coming next year. We’re excited to see the way the team is building and how each year we get so much better.”
The future looks bright for the Penn sailing team, indeed.
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