Coed sailors blast into top position

Both the coed and women’s sailing teams kept busy during spring break with members competing in regattas up and down the coast.

Of the six competitions featuring Bulldog competitors, the most noteworthy accomplishments were the coed team’s first-place finishes in the St. Mary’s Team Race Intersectional held March 10-11 in Maryland and the Owen Trophy last weekend at the Naval Academy. Their winning performances in the past weeks have put them first in the national rankings, a large jump from their previous 14th-place berth.

Yale boats line up at full sail in Long Island Sound during the Yale Radial Open last Sept. 10. After a series of big finishes in February and March, the Elis have claimed a No. 1 national ranking.
Chris Young
Yale boats line up at full sail in Long Island Sound during the Yale Radial Open last Sept. 10. After a series of big finishes in February and March, the Elis have claimed a No. 1 national ranking.

“We had a really good team effort this weekend,” said captain Zach Brown ’08, who sailed in the Division A boat with Grace Becton ’09. “Thomas Barrows ’10 did really well in B division, and we held it in the top in A division, and that’s how you win.”

The team competing at Navy had to make several adjustments in response to the shifty wind conditions. Before this regatta, the Bulldogs had sailed mostly in straight winds, so the unpredictable conditions made it more difficult to stay in phase and lifted in the water.

Also, some Bulldogs had to make the transition from team racing in the previous weeks to fleet racing, which requires completely different strategies. Team racing features more aggressive boat-to-boat interaction, where three boats on one team compete directly against three on another. This is contrasted with the more straightforward fleet racing, where boats from all participating schools start at the line.

Members of the coed team also competed at the Boston Dinghy Club Cup at MIT this past weekend, where they finished sixth of 18 schools. All three boats in Divisions A, B and C started off with six strong races but were challenged by light winds later in the afternoon.

“We all would have liked to do better because we started out so strongly, but it’s a good starting point for us,” Emily Hill ’07 said. “We weren’t discouraged because we got to see what we need to work on.”

The women’s team sailed at the Emily Wick and Sloop Shrew Trophies at Roger Williams University this weekend, where they finished fifth and third, respectively. Like their teammates at the other regattas, the women also faced less-than-ideal wind conditions.

On their first day back from a spring break training trip to Florida, the team had to make the transition back into the flat water in Rhode Island. Because of this, the first day was more of a challenge, but the women were able to adjust and improve for the second regatta.

“We sail better in steadier winds, and if the breeze had built more, we would haves done better,” captain Jane Macky ’09 said. “But we’re looking to improve our performance in light wind, so it was good practice for us.”

Members of both teams said they see their finishes in the past few weeks’ various regattas as a starting point for improvement and ultimately, preparing for qualifier events for Nationals.

“It’s a good way to start the spring,” Brown said. “We’ve done team racing and fleet racing, and we won both of those, so it sets us up well for the rest of the season.”

The coed team will compete in the Southern Northeastern Team Race at the Coast Guard Academy and the Oberg Trophy at MIT this weekend, and the women will race for the Joseph Duplin Trophy at Tufts.

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