After a week of training in Hawaii and four spring break regattas, the sailing team is ready to take on a challenging spring season and campaign for as many as three national titles.
In a departure from years past, the coed team will focus on both regular fleet racing and team racing this season in order to take advantage of the depth of talent on the team.
“This spring, because of the depth of our team, we feel that it’s worth our time to work towards the team racing national championship,” All-American Stu McNay ’05 said.
Team racing is a less common version of collegiate fleet racing in which schools send three boats each that compete in single or double round-robin races.
Captain Matt Barry ’07 said he anticipates a strong season for the No. 3 Elis.
“As a team, it looks to be one of our most promising seasons yet,” he said. “With the return of Stu McNay and the addition of Zach Brown ['08], I think we are one of the best teams in the nation.”
McNay had taken the year off to train for the Olympic trials. Brown was considered one of the most promising recruits in the country.
The coed team has met with success since the opening of their season in late February.
In their first coed regatta of the spring, the Charleston Spring Intersectional, held by the College of Charleston Feb. 19-20, the Elis finished third of 18 teams, behind only UC Irvine and Charleston.
Two weeks later, the Elis stopped at Stanford to compete in the Jeremy McIntyre Team Race. The Bulldogs finished third of 10 with a record of 8-4 behind No. 1 USC and Stanford.
The sailors then flew to Hawaii, where they spent their five-day stay in paradise training among themselves and scrimmaging with the No. 12 Rainbow Warriors.
Brown said the spring training helped the sailors tune up for the season since many of them had not sailed competitively since fall.
“We are all pretty amped after coming out of Hawaii,” he said. “We got a lot of really good training after being in the off season.”
While the coed team has been encouraged by its finishes, the defending national champion women’s team is also looking strong after returning all six members from last year’s squad, including two All-Americans. The Elis will feature some of their younger talent in events this spring, captain Molly Carapiet ’06 said.
On March 12-13, the No. 3 Bulldogs sailed in the Navy Spring Women’s Intersectional at the U.S. Naval Academy, their first women’s regatta of the spring. They placed third of 14 behind No. 1 Brown and No. 2 Charleston.
The Elis were split during the final weekend of spring break, with coed crews competing at the Truxtun Umsted Intersectional at Navy and female crews sailing at the St. Mary’s Women’s Intersectional, at St. Mary’s. The coed team placed fifth of 20, while the women, led by Carapiet, finished second of 18 behind Charleston.
The Bulldogs have scheduled team racing events for the next three weekends, including practices with the team that will represent the United States in the International Sailing Federation’s Team Racing World Championships.
“They are helping us out in our own team racing, which is quite a treat for our team,” McNay said.
In the long-run, the teams have their eyes set on qualifying for and competing in the Women’s, Coed Dinghy and Team Race North American Championships, which will be held in early June. McNay said the Bulldogs’ chances at qualifying for the national championships are quite good.
“In team racing, we’re not quite as strong as we need to be, but with this spring’s training … I think we have a chance to do quite well,” he said.
The women, who won the North American Championships last year, have a shot at a repeat but will have to work hard in order to edge out the Elis’ tough competition, which includes No. 1 Brown, No. 2 Charleston, and 2003 North American champions and fourth-ranked Harvard, Carapiet said.
“We will have to sail well to win it,” she said. “We would like to, but we will have to work hard all spring in order to do so.”
If the Bulldogs manage to win one or more of the championships this spring, they will earn valuable points in the race for the Fowle Trophy, the “holy grail” of college sailing that Harvard has won for four consecutive years. The Fowle is given to the team that has the best overall performance in college sailing’s six national championships — in men’s and women’s singlehanded dinghies, sloops, coed and women’s doublehanded dinghies, and team racing — over the course of a season.
This weekend the Bulldogs will compete in the Owen Trophy Intersectional in Kings Point, N.Y. and the Southern New England Team Race at Connecticut College. The Elis will also host the Ferrarone Team Race on April 9-10.