SAILING | Elis clinch top spot

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Photo by Zeenat Mansoor.

The women’s team finished the year as it started: No. 1.

This weekend, the women’s team sliced through the choppy waters of the East River to secure a first-place finish at the SUNY Maritime-hosted Women’s Atlantic Coast Championships (ACCs), which pits the best teams from the East Coast against each other. The victory was a fitting conclusion to the successful fall season.

The No. 1 coed team’s fifth-place finish at the same tournament in Cambridge, Mass., although impressive, did not quite live up to the team’s high expectations.

In New York, the women’s team won a tight regatta, finishing first on a tiebreaker over second-place University of Rhode Island. Both had 181 points in total. Third-place Dartmouth was just off the championship pace, finishing with 182.

The regatta was sailed with 14 races in two divisions. In A division, the Elis finished second. Claire Dennis ’13 and Marlena Fauer ’14 split the skippering duties, while Katherine Gaumond ’15 aided Dennis as her crew, and Eugenia Custo Greig ’14 crewed for Fauer. The four combined for 10 top-five finishes, including four victories. In B division, a squad of four Bulldogs finished fourth. Emily Billing ’13 skippered on Saturday while Morgan Kiss ’15 took over for Sunday’s races. Amanda Salvesen ’14 handled the bulk of the crewing, but Anna Han ’14 lent a helping hand for the final two races of the regatta. The tetrad produced seven top-five finishes.

Members of the women’s team underscored the importance of the team effort that delivered the win. Team members pointed out that it is unconventional to switch skippers and crews frequently in the middle of such an important regatta. That all four skippers and all four crews sailed and sailed well made the triumph that much sweeter.

“Going into this regatta with a team effort really helped us because all our skippers and all our crews knew they were going to sail in advance,” Dennis said. “We knew we were going to win as a team, and that was a really important factor.”

Salvesen agreed with Dennis, and even looked forward to bigger and better things.

“Rotating our skippers and crews shows we have a really deep women’s team,” Salvesen said. “Our oldest sailor is still a junior. This regatta is a good indicator of what we’re capable of. We’re hopeful for nationals this year.”

As it has all season, the Charles River provided a challenge to the coeds at the ACCs in Cambridge, Mass. Despite the unpredictable and mercurial river, the coeds managed a fifth-place finish at the hotly-contested regatta. The Bulldogs’ 281 points through 18 races in two divisions was merely five points behind third place and 17 behind second-place Dartmouth.

Just as a large squad brought the women’s team its victory this weekend, the coed team carried seven sailors to the ACCs, all of whom contributed in some fashion. In A division, captain Joe Morris ’12 skippered all 18 races, while Heather May ’13 crewed in 13 of those races. Isabel Elliman ’12 crewed in the remaining five. The trio combined for 133 points, tying College of Charleston for third, but were ultimately relegated to fourth on a head-to-head tiebreaker. Although the Bulldogs came in dead last on the first race of the regatta, their overall performance improved. The group garnered six top-five finishes.

Even the best team in the country cannot finish first in every regatta, and Morris emphasized the merits of a top-five finish at a regatta such as the ACCs.

“Overall we were pretty happy,” Morris said. “It’s hard not to be happy finishing in the top-five at a regatta with many of the best teams in the country. We had hoped to do a little bit better, but the conditions on the Charles were extremely different from what we were used to.”

In B division, Cam Cullman ’13, just a week removed from securing the singlehanded national championship, took on most of the skippering duties; Christopher Segerblom ’14 skippered the three races which Cullman did not. Genoa Warner ’12 handled most of the crewing, while Margot Benedict ’12 crewed six races. The group of four sailed well, but their 148 points placed them seventh in the division. Roger Williams University, which won the regatta, finished at the top of B division with an astounding 73 points. Nonetheless, Cullman was pleased with the result, emphasizing the problems posed by the Charles and that the team would head into its winter break eager to do even better.

“We did pretty well, but we’re heading into the offseason hungry and looking to improve in the spring,” Cullman said. “We were sailing on a shifty and puffy Charles.”

Both the women’s and coed sailing teams have concluded their fall schedules. The teams will resume competition in the spring.

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