SAVANNAH, Ga. — Dan and Carrie Rohde have a lot to celebrate this July 4th.
They’re just back from New London, Conn., where youngest daughter Dana reported to the United States Coast Guard Academy, following in the footsteps of sisters Krysta and Devin.
The three siblings — all nationally known sailors — are thought to be the first three sisters from one family to be accepted to and attend the academy.
In a way, it’s only fitting.
Dan and Carrie, accomplished sailors in their own right, met when they were students and sailing team members at the Merchant Marine Academy in King’s Point, N.Y.
Ironically, their biggest rival was — and remains — the sailing team at the Coast Guard Academy.
“It’s become a running joke with friends we went to school with,” Dan said, laughing.
“When Devon followed Krysta to New London, they said if we sent one more kid to the Coast Guard Academy to sail, we’d be kicked out of the alumni association.”
They’re crossing their fingers, but so far, Carrie said, no one has come to repossess their alumna membership cards.
Krysta, now 25 and stationed in Miami, where she is involved in marine inspections for the Coast Guard, was well known for her sailing skills in Savannah, Georgia.
As a high school junior competing on her school’s sailing team and for the Savannah Sailing Center in 2005, she posted first and second place finishes in both Sunfish juniors and Laser full rigs and first place in Laser radials in the South Atlantic Yacht Racing Association’s junior regatta series.
She won the Sunfish Junior North American Championship in Delaware and finished 23rd in U.S. Sailing’s prestigious Junior Women’s Singlehanded Championship — also known as the Leiter Cup — in Marina Del Ray, Calif.
In her final junior regatta the following year, she placed fourth in the Leiter Cup.
At the Coast Guard Academy, she was the 2007 Collegiate National Singlehanded Champion — a rare feat for a freshman — and went on to help her team finish eighth in the College Women’s Nationals in 2011.
After graduation, she was chosen to compete in the 2013 Military World Games, where she joined a team of two other female officers — one Coast Guard, one Navy — sailing against other countries in Norway. Team USA came in third to bring home the bronze medal.
“Krysta wasn’t sure what she wanted to do after high school. She just knew she wanted to help people and make a difference somewhere,” Carrie said. “She looked at the academy in October and was accepted for early admission in December.”
Devon, now 21 and a rising senior, looked carefully at a dozen or so colleges before deciding to pursue the Coast Guard Academy, her mother said. She, too, was granted early admission.
As did her older sister, Devon sailed competitively in high school, finishing 10th in her final Leiter Cup. That same year, she finished eighth with sister Dana in the Ida Lewis national doublehanded championship.
During Savannah’s Tall Ships Festival two summers ago, Devon flew to Savannah with some 50 of her fellow cadets to join the U.S. Coast Guard’s tall ship, the Barque Eagle, for a six-week training cruise.
She’s currently completing her summer duty on a fast response cutter at Station Key West, where she was joined by the rest of her family for a brief reunion last month, She looks forward to finishing her final year and sailing with her younger sister at the academy.
Dana, who like her sisters was granted early admission in November, spent a tough spring weighing all her options before deciding to follow Krysta and Devon, Carrie said. She joins the Class of 2018, reporting for “Swab Summer” — the Coast Guard’s version of boot camp — earlier this week.
Perhaps the most accomplished of the sailing sisters, Dana is most proud of winning the U.S. Junior Women’s National Championship last year, “finally getting the Rohde name on the Leiter Cup trophy.”
She was also named to the U.S. Sailing Olympic Development team last year after finishing second at the Youth Worlds Qualifier and ninth of 120 sailors at the International Orange Bowl Regatta.
She will join her sister on the Coast Guard Academy’s varsity sailing team in the fall.
And, while it’s clear the three are close, like all sisters, they aren’t above giving each other a hard time now and then. Case in point: The picture of Krysta on her first ship assignment that was turned into a recruiting poster.
“It was pretty funny when Devon showed up for school this past year, and her sister was staring stern-faced at her from a poster on her dorm hallway wall,” Carrie said. “We all got a good laugh, and Krysta hasn’t lived it down yet!”