The Vineyard sailing team earned its first-ever berth in the annual New England Schools Sailing Association team racing championship race on Tuesday, making history for the program. They are one of eight teams in the region--representing a mix of both public and private schools--that will contend for the Fritz Mark Trophy this weekend at the Wianno Yacht Club in Osterville. 

The top two finishing schools at the Mark Trophy race will compete at team racing nationals, held May 23-25 in Houston, Texas. The third- and fourth-place schools will compete at the National Invitational Tournament the same weekend, which will be held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Vineyard sailors are 9-0 in the Cape & Island League, and 19-3 overall. Selection for Mark Trophy contention is determined by schedule strength and win-loss record. The Vineyard finished sixth in the selection process, and is the number two public school in New England.

Head coach Andrew Burr said Wednesday that this year was a particularly challenging one for Mark Trophy contention. Perennial contender Tabor Academy did not make the top eight for the first time in the history of the trophy. 

The Vineyard will compete against St. George's School (Rhode Island), Portsmouth Abbey School (Rhode Island), Cape Cod Academy, Manchester-Essex Regional High School, the Hotchkiss School (Connecticut), Milton Academy, and the Brunswick School (Connecticut). 

In picture, junior captain Eli Hanschka on the water during a scrimmage with Cape Cod Academy.