Elis sail to sixth-place finishes

Though the sailing team participated in three different regattas this weekend, the number six seemed to follow them around.

The Elis placed sixth at the Erwin Schell Trophy at MIT, sixth at the War Memorial Regatta at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and sixth at the Women’s Victorian Urn at Harvard.

The coed team met more than its fair share of bad luck and disappointment at the Schell Trophy, hosted by MIT at Boston Harbor. Although the Bulldogs placed ahead of 12 other teams, they failed to qualify for the coed Atlantic Coast Championships for the second year in a row.

Though the Division A boat suffered a structural breakdown in one of its races, it was able to finish third. The Division B boat, which was skippered by Phil Stemler ’07 and crewed by Abigail Coplin ’08 and Caleb Dorfman ’09, took a hard hit from two disqualifications, resulting in a ninth-place finish in the division.

“We put in a solid effort, but the disqualifications cost us a chance at qualifying [for the ACC],” Stemler said. “We’re all extremely disappointed.”

Team members said difficult wind conditions throughout the weekend made sailing especially challenging. The weekend’s shifty and extreme winds, rain and cold weather made sailing in top shape more difficult.

The coed team also placed sixth at the War Memorial Regatta at Kings Point, N.Y., but the typically two-day event was cut down to only three races due to weather. Excessive winds caused a postponement Saturday morning, and after the teams reconvened later that afternoon, the winds once again became too strong for competition. On Sunday, the extreme gusts continued, resulting in a cancellation of the rest of the regatta.

Captain Emily Hill ’07, who sailed in Division B with Jason Ravinovitch ’08 and Hannah Oakland ’07, said the excessive winds were a definite challenge. Despite its shortened outing this weekend, the team has not lost any focus on upcoming championships, including the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association (ICSA) Singlehanded Championships, the ACC Freshmen Championships and the women’s ACC regatta.

Hill said that practice over the final few weeks of the season will revolve around training in Lasers, which are small singlehanded boats intended for one sailor.

“We’re going to be focusing on Lasers,” she said. “We’re just going to practice a lot in the boats and get comfortable.”

The women’s team, which placed sixth at the Women’s Victorian Urn at Harvard, faced the same wind and weather challenges as their fellow teammates racing in Boston Harbor at MIT. The extreme winds caused the Division A boat, consisting of Jane Macky ’09 and Hilary Shapiro ’08, to capsize, which prevented them from finishing their first race.

Shapiro said the event was especially trying because of the range of experience within the field. Because the fleet was not very deep, the top eight teams were always competing for top spots while the rest of the fleet struggled behind. When she and Macky had bad starts, it restricted them to the back half of the competition, which caused difficulties with maneuvering around less seasoned sailors.

“It’s really frustrating when it’s really windy and there are people who don’t have as much experience and have trouble controlling the boat,” Shapiro said. “All of our bad scores were all instances where we got in a situation with another boat, which messed up our scores for the weekend, but we were handling the breeze pretty well.”

At the New England Freshman Championships at the University of Vermont, Yale freshmen finished fifth overall.

Hill, Macky, Matthew Barry ’07, and Sarah Lihan ’10 will be competing at the ICSA Singlehanded Championships this weekend in Bristol, R.I., hosted by Roger Williams University.

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