Last chance for Hawaii

At the college sailing midseason meetings, the USF women’s sailing team was awarded an important honor – the right to host this year’s south district championships.

That championship regatta, which will be held at USF’s St. Petersburg campus this weekend, will decide who advances to the national championships in Hawaii.

Coach Stephanie Doyle said hosting the event is important for the program.

“It’s a really huge competition for us to host,” Doyle said. “It’s a huge honor.”

Doyle said the decision on which school hosts comes from voting, in which all district schools participate. She said the possible reason other schools voted for her team is that women’s sailing is stressed as a big part of the team at USF.

“Some people think women’s sailing is second class. It’s really important at USF,” Doyle said. “A lot of teams may someday like to be like us.”

As for the actual competition, Doyle said the top two teams from this weekend will advance to Hawaii. She said the main competition for the Bulls will come from the powerhouse College of Charleston, Tennessee and St. Petersburg neighbor, Eckerd.Doyle said she expects the regatta to be hard fought.

“The competition is probably pretty good,” she said. “(We’d like) a top three.”

Doyle said the most important thing for her team is to relax and sail as strongly as it practices.

“I’d like the girls to sail the races I know they can sail,” she said.

Rob Brannon covers sailing and can be reached at