Sailing emphasizes extra-Ivy regattas

The Ivy League Championship means little to the Yale sailing programs — and not just because they placed sixth.

So on Oct. 12 and 13, when the league championship coincided with the Hap Moore team race at the Coast Guard Academy, Yale’s top sailors were in New London, Conn., for the Hap Moore team race and not Philadelphia, Penn., where the Ivy contest took place.

Major team races and intersectionals, which are races that have participants from more than one regional conference, are more important than the Ivy championship because many top sailing squads are not members of the Ivy League.

“The best teams aren’t necessarily in the Ivy League, and other regattas are much more competitive for us,” commodore Mike Renda ’04 said. “Tufts, for example, is arguably one of the top five teams in the nation, and they’re not in the Ivy League.”

All eight schools in the Ivy League have sailing programs, but only Brown, Dartmouth, Harvard and Yale belong to the New England Intercollegiate Sailing Association (NEISA) and regularly compete nationally. Columbia, Cornell, Penn and Princeton have smaller programs and belong to the Middle Atlantic Intercollegiate Sailing Association. The MAISA Ivy teams rarely appear high in national rankings.

The Ivy League championship is one of the few moments when all eight programs compete without non-Ivy League opponents.

Isabelle Kinsolving ’02, the sailing teams’ assistant coach, said the Ivy League championship is relatively insignificant because it does not count in the Intercollegiate Sailing Association rankings. The ISA focuses on each team’s performance at intersectionals, Kinsolving said.

“None of the top Ivy League teams are going to send their best sailors to the Ivy League championships at the expense of doing less well in major regattas that count for national rankings and may count for [individual sailors'] All-American status,” Kinsolving said.

This year, the Ivy League Championship fell on the same weekend as both the Hap Moore team race and a major women’s intersectional race at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

“The team race was much more important to us [than the Ivies],” Renda said.

Dartmouth did not even bother to send a team to the Ivy championship. Instead, the Big Green sent its best sailors to the Hap Moore and an NEISA intersectional.

According to women’s team captain Elizabeth “Sunny” Larson ’03, the meaning of the Ivy League championship for Yale has changed over the years. Before Yale competed on the national level, the Ancient Eight championships were more important to the Bulldogs. Generally, the least competitive Ancient Eight teams place more emphasis on the league championship because those teams have a greater chance of success, Larson said.

But this is no longer the case for Yale, which is currently ranked No. 7 in women’s sailing and No. 13 in co-ed sailing.

“It’s more important now that we’re nationally ranked to do well in the intersectionals,” Larson said.

Columbia, one of the Ancient Eight’s perennial doormats, won the Ivy title this past weekend.

Kinsolving said Ivy League coaches and sailors have talked about making the championship more meaningful, but other top Ivy League teams like Brown and Harvard lack interest.

“It’s sort of unfortunate,” she said. “They’ve also talked about taking away the Ivy League championship as a separate regatta, but none of the smaller teams really want to do that.”

Kinsolving said that, at least for the near future, the Ivy Championship will probably continue to be less important than intersectionals and big team races.

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