Sailors conquer wind for win

Variable weather conditions could not deter the sailing team from success at New England venues this weekend.

While a few members of the women’s sailing team competed at Yale, their teammates from the co-ed team raced at the U.S. Naval Academy, Dartmouth and Connecticut College. The Elis took home overall wins at this weekend’s two biggest races — the Yale Women’s Intersectional and the Navy Fall Intersectional. The women won both divisions while competing in home waters in Branford. The co-ed sailors won the intersectional overall by finishing first in two of four divisions.

The  sailing team participates in the Captain’s Cup on Sept. 9. The team excelled at home this weekend and won the Women’s Intersectional.
Christopher Young
The sailing team participates in the Captain’s Cup on Sept. 9. The team excelled at home this weekend and won the Women’s Intersectional.

Captain Emily Hill ’07, who sailed in Division A with Hannah Oakland ’07, said that although the shifty winds on Saturday led to a rough start, the two were able to pull through and perform well.

“For us, it was great to be at Yale and to be comfortable in our own boats,” Hill said. “Having our team around to support us made a huge difference.”

Kendra Emhiser ’07, who sailed in Division B and rotated with Jane Macky ’09 and Marla Menninger ’10, said that the home venue was an advantage. Yale’s course is one of the most difficult in breezy conditions due to big waves on the open ocean, and other schools are less prepared for Yale’s wind conditions, Emhiser said. Sunday’s winds made the races more challenging and difficult, but the women were able to aim for more consistency and teamwork.

“It was much more of a team effort than other regattas because we switched up who was sailing depending on wind conditions,” Emhiser said. “We were really able to work together as a team, and not only did we get the best overall team results, but we also won each division. That shows how deep our team is and that we have great overall skills for a really good combined effort.”

The Yale Women’s Intersectional was the first qualifier event for the Atlantic Coast Championship — the biggest women’s regatta of the fall season for top New England and east coast teams. Team members said that it was nice to be the first team to qualify for the championship, and they will be preparing for that event for the rest of the season.

While the women excelled in Branford, the co-ed team won the Navy Fall Intersectional in Annapolis, M.D. Yale’s Division A and D boats both finished first, while Division B and C finished eighth and fourth, respectively.

The conditions at Navy included shifty winds and spotty breezes with moderate chop, team members said. The Elis’ speed benefited from the fact that the longer racecourses were similar to what they practice at Yale.

“The challenge of Navy was that everyone was up and down ­— everybody had good and bad races,” said Zachary Brown ’08, who sailed Division A with Grace Becton ’09. “To succeed, we had to be steady throughout by being consistent, patient and unemotional about having bad races.”

Philip Stemler ’07 said that an interesting aspect of sailing at Navy was that they were able to do full and direct swap. At all regattas, the teams rotate through the fleet and sail different boats for each race in order to equalize the equipment among the competitors. At most venues, the sailors must return to the dock or beach for the next division to compete, but because of the scope of Navy’s water, they were able to do direct swap right on the water. This allowed the sailors to be out on the water for the whole day and race 12 times on Saturday, compared to the usual eight, Stemler said.

“Usually a place only has 20 boats, so a division will come in and then they’ll switch off, but at Navy it’s all going on at the same time,” Stemler said. “At Navy, there were four divisions, so with 20 boats in each division, 80 boats were racing at all times. It was an extravaganza because there was so much going on simultaneously.”

Yale’s co-ed team also had sailors competing at the Jack Wood Trophy at Dartmouth and Southern Series at Connecticut College. Results for those regattas were not available.

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