In his first race on Sunday, Chris Segerblom ’14 finished dead last. Just three races were left at the Harry Anderson Trophy regatta, and he sat in fifth place in the regatta’s A division.
But Segerblom finished fifth in the next race and then, with Heather May ’13 replacing Margot Benedict ’12 as his crew, clinched a come-from-behind victory in the A division when he ended with a third- and then a first-place finish.
That performance paced the No. 5 Yale coed sailing team to a third-place finish overall at the Harry Anderson Trophy, its only home regatta of the season. Meanwhile, skipper Joseph Morris ’12 led a crew of three Elis as they qualified for the next round of the National Sloop Championships with a third-place finish of his own in Newport, R.I. And in Boston, the No. 1 women’s sailing team also took home the bronze, finishing a close third to Brown and Boston College at the Toni Deutsch Trophy regatta.
“It was a building weekend, a learning weekend,” Morris said. “We wanted to get out there and see what we could do after a long offseason.”
Segerblom showed few signs of rust, as he and Benedict finished the first day of the Yale regatta with top-five finishes in half their races against a 20-boat field. But the strongest individual Eli boat of the weekend was that of skipper Marlena Fauer ’14 and crew Eugenia Custo Greig ’14 who raced at the Toni Deutsch Trophy in Boston, over 100 miles away. Though Fauer said the pair had little experience together before the weekend, they finished first among 14 boats in the B division by a wide 41-point margin.
Fauer and Custo Greig started and ended the regatta with second-place finishes, and stayed consistently at the top of the field throughout. They finished no worse than ninth in any one race and averaged just worse than third. That consistency came even though they raced a grueling 26 races — a number Fauer called “unheard of.” Sailors at the Harry Anderson Trophy raced only 10 times.
Head coach Zachary Leonard ’89 said that amount of sailing was mentally as well as physically draining.
“A huge part of our sport is gaining full intensity of concentration, sustaining it for a race, letting it down while the other division is racing, and then regaining it for the next race,” Leonard said.
But Fauer and Custo Greig took advantage of the extended time on the water. So did the women’s A division pair of skipper Claire Dennis ’13 and crew Anna Han ’14, who are racing together for the first time this season.
Though they started off slowly with 14th- and 10th-place finishes, Dennis and Han improved as the weekend progressed, clinching ninth place in the A division.
“We didn’t do as well as we hoped, but we both learned a lot about what we have to work on,” Dennis said. “We’re learning how the other person sails and how to adapt to each other.”
The Elis’ performance at the Pine Trophy Match Race Intersectional — a qualifying event on the Thames River in New London, Conn. for National Sloop Championships — was also an exercise in building chemistry and adapting. Not only is the event sailed on four-person boats that must be sailed differently than the dinghies in which Yale practices, but its format is also different than typical collegiate competition.
Almost all regattas, including both the Harry Anderson and Toni Deutsch Trophies this weekend, are fleet races in which all boats face each other in a series of races. In match racing, however, two boats go head to head at a time, and performance is measured in wins and losses instead of according to place. That difference makes tactics entirely different in match racing than in fleet racing.
“They’re almost like different sports,” Leonard said. “It’s almost like the difference between pole vaulting and marathoning.”
The notoriously shifty winds on the Thames further complicated the race. Leonard said that, in one race, Yale was leading by a comfortable margin when the wind shifted 180 degrees. The team could not recover, and ended up losing.
Still, Yale fought its way to a 9-4 record overall, including a 4–3 record on the first day and a 5–1 record on the second. The first day’s results put the Elis in a four-way tie for second place in the field. But tiebreaking procedure went against the team, and it were relegated to the regatta’s second tier for Sunday’s races.
Behind Morris’ work as skipper and a crew that included Max Nickbarg ’14 — a match racing veteran — and Amanda Salvesen ’14 and Rob Struckett ’12 — who has experience on bigger boats — lifted the Elis to a dominant second day performance and, with it, a spot in New England Sloop Championships in two weeks.
“It’s difficult because Yale doesn’t own any big boats for us to practice in,” said Morris, who had only one weekend of practice with his crew before heading to Rhode Island. “But we put in a good effort and came close to the top. Hopefully we can contend at New Englands.”
While the women were racing a grueling schedule and their teammates were sailing unfamiliar sloops, Segerblom and B division skipper Cam Cullman ’13 were racing in the familiar waters off their boathouse in Branford. The location did not make sailing easy, however, and Segerblom said that tricky winds kept him and the whole fleet inconsistent all day.
“Had you asked me when I got off the water, I wouldn’t have guessed that I had won,” he said.
As the difficult winds picked up during Sunday’s late races, Leonard decided to make changes at crew in order to increase the weight in each boat. May took over for Benedict in Segerblom’s boat and Katherine Gaumond ’15 took the place of Genoa Warner ’12 alongside Coleman.
The coed and women’s team will send sailors to regattas in Massachusetts, New York and New Hampshire next weekend.