COED SAILING | Coeds qualify for National Semifinals

The coed sailors took seventh at the New England Dinghy Championships.
The coed sailors took seventh at the New England Dinghy Championships. Photo by Sergio Zenisek.

The No. 8 coed sailing team fought consistent breezes surpassing 20 knots at the New England Dinghy Championship last weekend to qualify for a spot in the National Semifinal in Long Beach, Calif.

The Bulldogs took seventh place in an event the regatta’s report described as “epic.” Another group of sailors from the coed team grabbed sixth at the Oberg Trophy. The No. 3 women’s team took fourth place at the Wick/Shrew Intersectional.

The seven members of the coed team, who traveled to Rhode Island for the New England Dinghy Championship, needed a top-eight finish in the regatta in order to advance to the National Semifinals. Because of powerful breezes, heavy air crew Rafael Fernandez ’13 and skipper Joseph Morris ’12 competed in the A division. As the winds whipped at over 20 knots of constant breeze, Morris and Fernandez jumped off to a strong start. The tqo finished in the top 10 in each of their first six races.

The combination of skippers Chris Segerblom ’14 and Cam Cullman ’13 and crews Segerblom, Heather May ’13 and Eugenia Custo Greig ’14 participated in the B division for the Elis. They delivered on Saturday with six top-10s in the eight races.

“The extra wind made it more fun in some regards and also a little wilder and crazier than usual,” Segerblom said. “There was some serious carnage at times throughout the fleet, and at times it was more of a survival mode. You could end up finishing well in the race as long as you kept your boat upright while other people were capsizing.”

Sunday brought 20-25 knot winds and fierce conditions. The A division boat of Morris and Fernandez took three top-tens in Sunday’s racing with a high finish of sixth. The B division boat finished fifth, 12th and sixth in its first three races on Sunday.

In what turned out to be the day’s final race, the breeze jumped up to well over 30 knots. Segerblom and Custo Greig were initially able to handle the conditions, but a puff of wind capsized the boat midway through the event. The two were able to flip the boat and continue, but it was not long before they capsized for a second time.

“We capsized again, and while we were capsized, the swell was also exceptionally big, and a pretty steep wave came and lifted our boat up about four feet,” Segerblom said. “As it came back down, the mast stuck into the seafloor and into the mud. When the weight of the boat came back down on top of the mast, it just snapped clean in half.”

Segerblom and Custo Greig were ultimately unable to finish the race and received a Did Not Finish. The team tried filing for redress, but race officials dismissed their case due to improper handling of the boat. Despite the DNF, the boat managed a 10th place finish overall.

The A division boat of Morris and Fernandez took eighth. Their combined scores gave the Bulldogs 212 points, good for seventh place and a spot in the National Semifinals in Long Beach, Calif.

Another set of sailors from the coed team made the trek to the Charles River for the Oberg Trophy. Like their teammates in Rhode Island, they had to deal with winds over 20 knots. Skipper Rob Struckett ’12 and crew Isabel Elliman ’12 got off to a slow start on Saturday in the A division, but finished strong with two top-fives in the day’s final three races. On Sunday, Struckett and Elliman battled through more strong winds to earn four top-fives in their five races. In the B division, skipper Max Nickbarg ’14 and crew Margot Benedict ’12 finished in the top-five in 11 of the 13 races despite never before sailing together in a regatta.

“It was really interesting because I don’t think I’ve ever had a regatta that went so consistently on the Charles River because it’s just so crazy,” Benedict said. “I think Max’s personality works really well with the Charles because he’s pretty relaxed and was just able to go with the bad and the good which you have to do on the Charles.”

A sixth-place finish in the A division and third-place in the B division gave the Elis sixth place overall at the regatta.

Sailors from the women’s team competed at the Wick/Shrew Intersectional at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. In the A division, skipper Claire Dennis ’13 and crew Anna Han ’14 finished 11th in two of their first three races before heating up to grab five top-fives and two wins in Saturday’s final five races. Emily Billing ’13 and Custo Greig sailed to six top-nines in Saturday’s six B division races.

“We just tried to be really conservative and not to make really risky moves,” Billing said. “Being conservative allowed us to have pretty consistent scores. We didn’t really win any races, but we also tried to stay out of the back of the fleet.”

On Sunday, Dennis and Han continued the consistency with no finish lower than nine and a third-place overall finish. Billing and new crew Amanda Salvesen ’14 took eight top-fives in the day’s 10 races to finish third in the B division. The combined results gave the Elis fourth overall, three points shy of third-place Stanford.

Next weekend, the coed team will compete at the Thompson Trophy in New London, Conn. and at the O’Toole Trophy in Newport, R.I. The women’s team will sail at the 45th Women’s New England Championships Reed Trophy.

Correction: April 20, 2011

An earlier version of this article incorrectly listed Claire Dennis ’13, the skipper in the women’s regatta, as Heather May ’13.

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