Sailors garner four first-place finishes over the weekend

The No. 3 sailing team had an exceptionally strong weekend, placing first in four regattas and second in two others.

A pair of Eli crews sailed past 15 other schools on Saturday and Sunday to claim the top spot at the Owen Trophy, hosted by the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y.

Phil Stemler ’07 and crew Hilary Shapiro ’08 earned second place in the A division behind No. 8 Dartmouth, while captain Matt Barry ’07 and crew Hannah Oakland ’07 steered to a first-place finish in the B division.

The competition was somewhat unpredictable going into the regatta because of the number of sailing events taking place around the country this weekend, Oakland said.

“It was a good fleet as it was a varsity event,” she said. “There were a lot of regattas this weekend, so … teams had sailors in many places. Therefore, we weren’t too sure what to expect going into it.”

The Bulldogs also earned their first win in a team-racing regatta in at least six years at the Southern New England Team Race hosted by Connecticut College in New London, Conn.

Team racing is a less common version of collegiate fleet racing in which schools send three boats each to compete in single or double round-robin races. This year the Bulldogs have the opportunity to focus on team racing in addition to their usual events because of the depth of talent on the team.

The pairs competing at the regatta were Stu McNay ’05 and crew Meredith Killion ’05, Zach Brown ’08 and crew Sarah Himmelfarb ’06, and Molly Carapiet ’06 and crew Jenn Hoyle ’05.

McNay said edging out Harvard for the top spot was an exciting accomplishment because Harvard has been one of the top-ranked teams for many years.

“It was cool to beat [Harvard] because I don’t think our team-racing team has beaten them in a long time,” he said. “They are on their way down a little bit and Yale is on its way up.”

Yale also competed in two coed regattas hosted by the University of Rhode Island. The Bulldogs placed second of five behind Rhode Island in the Southern Series One on Saturday and first in another field of five at an invitational on Sunday.

In addition, the Bulldogs fielded crews in two all-female events hosted by Harvard. On Saturday, the Elis captured the Emily Wick Trophy, with Emily Hill ’07 and crew Abby Coplin ’08 finishing first in the A division and Kendra Emhiser ’07 and crew Eliza Becton ’06 taking second in the B division behind Tufts. On Sunday, the four women placed second and fifth in the Sloop Shrew Trophy behind No. 7 Stanford.

Because the entire spring sailing season lasts less than two months, several regattas are held every weekend. Barry said the Bulldogs have enough talent this season to handle multiple regattas on any given day.

“Our team is strong enough this year that we can field extremely competitive teams in two or more regattas every week,” he said.

Furthermore, because of the number of talented sailors on the team, competition in multiple regattas gives some of the younger Elis a chance to demonstrate their skills, McNay said.

“Our team [is] at times frustrating for some of our younger kids … because if they went to another school they would be sailing in the highest-ranked event of the weekend,” he said. “It’s great for us to enter as many events as possible so all of our sailors get to perform.”

The Elis’ first No. 1 finishes of the spring season will no doubt improve the team’s ranking, which fell from No. 2 to No. 3 in mid-March. A higher ranking will qualify the Bulldogs for more and harder regattas next year, Barry said.

In addition to top rankings, McNay said the Bulldogs also have their sights set on this year’s Fowle Trophy. Based on the six national championships in college sailing, the Fowle, which Harvard has won for the past four years, is the “holy grail” of collegiate sailing.

With Carapiet’s third place finish in the women’s single-handed championship and the Bulldogs’ third in sloops, the team is well-positioned to compete for the trophy, McNay said.

“I think we are one of the deepest teams in college sailing,” he said. “Right now we are doing as well as any school.”

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