Sailing soars in rankings, then falls this weekend

Yale sailors were on top of the collegiate sailing world heading into last weekend, but shaky performances at venues all around New England may rattle the Elis’ tenuous hold on the NCAA No. 1 billing.

The women’s sailing team finished third at Connecticut College’s Stu Nelson Trophy this weekend, but the co-ed team had some difficulties, finishing eighth at Brown’s Sherman Hoyt Trophy and twelfth at MIT’s Rudolph Oberg Trophy. Team members said these finishes were slightly disappointing, especially coming just days after both the women’s and co-ed teams rose to the top spot in the Sailing World’s national college rankings, which are determined by a panel of judges every other week.

The coed sailing team competes in New Haven on Sept. 10. Despite poor finishes this weekend, the women earned top national rankings.
Christopher Young
The coed sailing team competes in New Haven on Sept. 10. Despite poor finishes this weekend, the women earned top national rankings.

Kendra Emhiser ’07, who sailed in the first two races of Division A and the remaining races in Division B at the Nelson regatta, said the tricky sailing conditions caused some difficulties. She said the changes in wind velocities, wind shifts and strong current made it difficult for the sailors to anticipate what would happen next.

“There were times when I was really frustrated with the conditions, but at the end, I really felt like it was all coming together,” Emhiser said. “It was tough, but there was a lot to learn in terms of being able to adapt to different conditions. We have to try our hardest to find ways to use our practices to prepare ourselves for the events ahead of us.”

Though the team struggled a bit with consistency and had a couple of bad races, team members said they are trying to work on being more consistent throughout the season, especially for the bigger regattas coming up, culminating in the Atlantic Coast Championships in November.

The atmosphere at Brown’s Hoyt regatta was more competitive than normal regattas, said Grace Becton ’09, who crewed Yale’s boat in Division A for most of the races. Because many teams were trying to earn spots for the upcoming Atlantic Coast Championships, the level of competition was raised. The Elis’ eighth-place finish was not good enough to qualify, and the pressure will be on the team in events next weekend, their last chance to secure a bid.

“It was a little bit of a disappointment,” Becton said. “We’ll definitely focus on racing in practice in order to prepare for this weekend. We’re just going to have to get into the mindset that we have to do well.”

John Kempton ’10, who competed in Division B at MIT’s Oberg regatta, said that wind conditions on the Charles River were shifty, which presented some challenges because members are more used to sailing in the steady breezes of Long Island Sound. Despite some bad starts, the team was able to come back and stay positive, he said.

Members of the women’s and co-ed teams said they are thrilled with their newfound first-place rankings. The women’s team moved up from the second place spot, and the co-ed team made a big jump from seventh. They said their wins from last week’s two intersectionals and consistent races in the past two weeks helped boost their rankings.

“I think it’s really exciting, but it’s the fall and it’s still early in the year,” Kempton said. “There’s a lot of time left in the season and we’re going to be competing against the top members, so we need to keep it up.”

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