Even the best teams lose sometimes — especially if they are Harvard teams.
The nationally ranked No. 16 Yale coed sailing team beat No. 1 Harvard’s coed squad to place second at the 45th Jan T. Friis Trophy Team Racing Intersectional April 5 and 6 at Tufts University.
Tufts won the event, which it hosted in the traditionally difficult conditions of Upper Mystic Lake in Medford, Mass.
Tufts held a large advantage going into the regatta because the Tufts team was used to both the unique venue and larks, a type of boat with which Yale sailors rarely get a chance to work. The weekend sets the tone for the New England Team Racing Championships, which will be at Tufts April 26 and 27.
Brandon Wall ’03 said the finish marked a huge success for Yale.
“We’ve been working a lot on team racing, and it was really exciting to see all that work pay off,” Wall said. “I think this is the first time we’ve beat Harvard in a varsity intersectional in my time here. The quality of our performance was just a step above anything we’ve done in the past. We have a solid, solid foundation for our team racing.”
Kate Littlefield ’04, coed team captain, said the success at Tufts was a great way to get ready for the New England Championship.
“We beat Harvard, the number one team-racing team in the country,” Littlefield said. “There are many more teams that are good at team racing and are good enough to go to nationals than there are berths to go there. The Friis was a great way to go into New England’s feeling confident in our ability to understand the game.”
Jennifer Hoyle ’05, captain of the nationally ranked No. 10 Yale women’s sailing squad, said the result sets a great precedent.
“It was a result of all the practicing we’ve been doing of team racing,” Hoyle said, “We felt a lot more in control on the course than we have in previous team races, and it showed in our results.”
Yale finished the 45-race round robin Saturday at 7-2, succeeding in conditions that, at various times, included snow, sleet, rain, drizzle and freezing rain, all in 10-20 knot winds with gusts at 25 knots. The result was good enough to put the Elis in the gold fleet Sunday, where they faced the other top four teams in a double round robin, going 3-3. Yale beat Harvard two of the three times the teams faced each other.
Two women’s races scheduled for Boston April 5 and 6 were canceled. The Emily Wick, hosted by MIT, and the Shrew, hosted by Harvard, were both victims of bad weather on the Charles River.
But at Yale, sailing continued despite the weather. Although the Friis was the only varsity intersectional this weekend (and thus the only regatta that counted toward national rankings), Yale also saw success at the Ted Ferrarone Team Race Trophy, held home at the YCYC Saturday and Sunday. Yale’s somewhat less-experienced team racers finished fifth in a field of 11, going 7-8 over the weekend.
“It was the second most important team race this weekend,” Littlefield said. “The result was really very good, because a lot of schools out of the district sent very competitive teams.”
Benoit Bewley ’05, who sailed in the regatta, said he was hopeful for the team’s future.
“We were excited to get fifth place,” Bewley said. “I guess it bodes well for our future.”
Many sailors expressed their pleasure at beating the number one racing team in the nation, but Wall summed up the weekend best.
“The weather couldn’t have been much worse, and our performance couldn’t have been much better,” he said.