Freshman sailors dominate

The Yale sailing teams raced all over New England this weekend in nearly too many regattas to keep track of. Somehow, the Elis managed to find some success even though they were split up and scattered.

The women’s team and the younger sailors dominated the waters this weekend. The women’s team finished third at the Mans-Labs Regatta and second at the Captain’s Cup at Tufts University, and the Bulldogs won the Freshman Series in Branford at the Yale Corinthian Yacht Club. Meanwhile, the co-ed sailing team struggled in Hanover, N.H., finishing 14th overall at the Captain Hurst Bowl.

At MIT’s Man-Labs Trophy on Saturday, Kendra Emhiser ’07 and crew Marla Menninger ’10 finished third in the A division, and Katherine Hagemann ’09 and crew Eliza Becton ’09 finished second in the B division. Emhiser said it was a good start to the season, but said she does not think they can take the good results for granted. Emhiser also said the team needs to work on consistency, regardless of whether the winds are strong or light.

At the Captain’s Cup, Yale’s A Division finished third and B Division came in fourth for an overall second-place result behind host Tufts. Consistency was a problem again on Sunday, as the Elis in B Division came in second in the fifth and seventh races, but 18th in the sixth and eighth in the eighth race of the regatta.

While the women were in Boston, the freshmen got a chance to get out on the water for the first time at the Freshman Series, which features freshman skippers and newer crews, regardless of class year. The Bulldogs have high expectations for their newest sailors because, according to Sailing World’s 2006-2007 Preseason prediction, Yale had the best recruiting class with the additions of Thomas Barrows ’10, John Kempton ’10 and Sarah Lihan ’10.

The group brings various talents to the table. Barrows is the Youth Singlehanded, Dinghy and Team racing champion, while Kempton specializes in 420s and Lihan is a master of Radials.

“We’re happy to have a strong incoming class because it will help Yale out over the next four years,” co-ed captain Matt Barry ’07 said.

The Bulldogs did not disappoint with their first-place result. In Division A, Barrows and crew Abigail Coplin ’08 took first and Lihan and crew Hilary Shapiro ’08 captured second. In the B Division, skipper John Kempton ’10 and crew Emmet Smith ’09 finished third to URI and Tufts.

Kempton said it was a transition from his high school experience, when he was used to longer open-water courses.

“It was a big learning experience for me in terms of the competition and the way things happen,” he said. “Everything is really close. It is a lot of risk management.”

The co-ed team did not have the comfort of home-water advantage like the freshmen did. Up at Dartmouth, Barry and crew Adriane Levin ’09 finished 16th and women’s captain Emily Hill ’07 and Hannah Oakland ’07 came in 12th in B Division. Oakland, Hill and Barry said they thought the weather conditions were challenging.

“Dartmouth is a really tricky place because the wind is really shifty and puffy,” Oakland said. “When I was talking to Emily at the end of the regatta, the results didn’t show how well we felt we sailed.”

Hill said the sailors needed to stay focused the entire time because of the changing winds.

This weekend was also unusual because two of the key Bulldog sailors were racing in Southern California, Oakland said. Phil Stemler ’07 and Zach Brown ’08 raced in the Hinman Trophy, the most prestigious team race in the country.

Stemler and Brown were split up on different teams because the event is open to teams of any organization, not just collegiate sailors. Stemler sailed with crew Meredith Killion ’05 and was on a team with Georgetown graduates called “Sun’s Out, Gun’s Out.” Brown was with a high school sailor and a sailor from Boston College on Team SDYC. Brown’s team advanced to the quarterfinals on Sunday, while Stemler’s team barely missed the finals after different round robins on Saturday and Friday.

Stemler said he enjoyed the regatta despite its challenging format, while Hill said she thinks the two can bring back valuable experiences to Yale team racing.

Next weekend, the women’s sailing team is traveling to Dartmouth for the Mrs. Hurst Bowl and the co-ed sailing team is racing in the Hatch Brown Trophy at MIT.

“Next weekend, we’ll be as strong as ever,” Barry said. “We’ll have our full team going to the Hash Brown Trophy. We’ll be able to use the strength and depth of our team.”

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