Sailing finishes second in New London

For the typical Yalie, bright sunshine and a light breeze are welcome changes in weather. But this past weekend, the constantly changing wind conditions amplified the challenges facing Yale’s sailing team competing at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

Twenty schools competed in the Danmark Trophy co-ed regatta on Saturday and Sunday, where Yale finished second, behind Boston College but well ahead of sixth-place Harvard. The Bulldogs also competed at two other regattas this weekend. At the George Warren Smith Trophy hosted by MIT, Yale came in fourth, while MIT snagged first place with a nine-point advantage, followed by Brown and Tufts. At home, Yale hosted the Southern Series III, and the Elis claimed fifth and seventh place.

Team captain Zachary Brown ’08 spent the weekend competing at the Danmark Trophy with part of the team. He said the dynamic weather and other mishaps posed a mental and physical challenge to the team.

“The second day was very frustrating because it was a lot more difficult to sail,” Brown said. “With mentally challenging conditions — it was different every race.”

But after a rocky start, several sailers said the team steadied and improved on Sunday. Thomas Barrows ’10 said that the team’s performance on day two contrasted greatly with the opening day’s results.

“It was a tough weekend — we started out fairly poorly on Saturday,” Barrows said. “But on Sunday, we had really good starts, so we were in the lead most of the time.”

The Danmark Trophy, held in nearby New London, Conn., is the qualifying regatta for the Atlantic Coast Championships, which is the culminating and premier regatta of the fall season. Only the top 18 teams from the East Coast Conferences are invited.

Brown said the team had concrete expectations for the regatta — finishing in the top two was paramount.

“We were hoping to qualify, and that’s what we did. That was our big goal,” Brown said. “We had to get top two — Boston College qualified, and they ended up winning the event.”

The Atlantic Coast Championships will be hosted this year by Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida.

While several Eli boats competed for a bid to the ACC, other teammates sailed in Cambridge. Twenty-eight schools lined up on one starting line at MIT’s regatta, creating a hectic and competitive start to the weekend.

John Kempton ’10, Adriane Levin ’09 and Emmet Smith ’09 came in third in the A Division, while Rufus Peabody ’08 and Kate Williams ’08 finished fourth in the B Division.

Back at Yale, two Bulldog teams competed in the A Division of Southern Series III — Jason Rabinovitch ’08 and Hannah Aultman ’08 finished fourth, totaling 55 points over 11 races, and Becca Jackson ’10, Liz Clark-Poiner ’09 and Meg Weeks ’08 won eighth place with 76 points.

Rabinovitch said in an e-mail that the weekend at home was well spent.

“It was definitely a welcome change to be able to sail at home,” Rabinovitch said. “We got a large range of wind conditions over the two days. As a team we did well, but definitely learned a lot from the weekend.”

As for the rest of the season, Brown said that he is expecting to remain as competitive as in past years. Yale has consistently produced top national teams.

“Our team is not as deep because a lot of seniors graduated, but we’re at the top level,” Brown said.

The Bulldogs will have another chance to compete this weekend at home as the hosts of the 46th Bus Mosbacher-Arthur. Although the weather forecast predicts cloudy skies and a chance of rain, Barrows says the weekend will be good practice for the upcoming Atlantic Coast Championships. With their ACC bid in hand, the Elis can relax a bit this weekend.

“For the regatta coming up we won’t be focused on the results as much,” Barrows said. “We can work on some things and improve.”

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