SAILING | Bulldogs sail on to semifinals

Next weekend, the coed sailing team will compete for the Admiral’s Cup, the Priddy Trophy and the Thompson Trophy.
Next weekend, the coed sailing team will compete for the Admiral’s Cup, the Priddy Trophy and the Thompson Trophy. Photo by Zeenat Mansoor.

Though the Bulldogs faced disappointing results in several fleet race regattas this weekend, the No. 1 Yale coed sailing team qualified for the National Semifinal Championships with a third-place finish at the New England Dinghy Championships at Harvard.

The coed team competed in a total of three regattas last weekend. It captured third place out of the 18 teams participating in the qualifiers hosted by the Crimson on the Charles River. Harvard took first place with a score of 231. Also on the Charles, the Elis placed seventh out of 18 teams at the Oberg Trophy, won by Boston College and hosted by Northeastern University. The Elis placed fifth out of nine teams at the Southern Series Short Beach Invitational on home waters in Branford, won by Brown University.

The No. 3 women’s team faced a disappointing tenth place finish out of 17 teams at the Emily Wick Trophy hosted by the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., lagging at 312 points to Boston College’s 190.

“The [New England Dinghy Championships] was a battle the whole way through,” assistant sailing coach William Healy said. “We were just a little off the pace. Since it was getting close to finals, people were probably not as focused as they should have been, but we were still in it to win.”

The New England Dinghy Championships consisted of 18 fleet races each in the A and B divisions, where one boat from each school raced against boats in that division from each of the other schools. The eight schools with the lowest score, tabulated by adding the places of all its races in both divisions, will continue on to the National Semifinal Championships at the Naval Academy on May 12 to 13.

Skipper Joe Morris ’12 and crews Isabel Elliman ’12 and Heather May ’13 finished eighth in the A division, 31 points behind Harvard in first, while coed sailing team captain and skipper Cam Cullman ’13 and crew Genoa Warner ’12 finished third in B division, four points behind Boston University in the lead.

“I think I didn’t start as well as I normally do and … took too much risk,” Morris said. “But we’ve done well in these conditions before. I think this just wasn’t our weekend.”

Morris said that although a conservative approach might have provided greater consistency, the shifty sailing conditions demanded different strategies than the conditions that the team faces at other venues. At Nationals, he said the strategies he used this weekend may be more effective.

Cullman said he was happy that the team fulfilled its primary goal of qualifying for the semifinals, adding that the team was “always within striking distance of first place.” He said that the team came out knowing what it needed to work on.

The top eight teams at the New England Dinghy Championships qualified for the National Semifinal Championships. Roger Williams University finished second, with Dartmouth, Boston College, Boston University, Tufts and Brown rounding out the top eight.

The Bulldogs also tackled the Charles’ unpredictable winds at the Oberg Trophy. Crew Sarah Smith ’15, who finished seventh in the B division with skipper Robert Struckett ’12, said the Charles tested the pair’s ability to adapt their boat handling technique with the shifting winds, which ranged between two and ten knots. Skipper Max Nickbarg ’14, who finished eighth in the A division with crew Anna Han ’14, said the result was disappointing, though it has taught him the importance of making “quick, decisive decisions” when handling the rapidly changing winds.

“I was sailing against some of my friends and rivals whom I am generally right next to in races, but this weekend I couldn’t consistently stay in the top of the fleet with them,” Nickbarg added.

Falling from its first place finish last week, the women’s team finished tenth at the Emily Wick Trophy — its only finish out of the top five in any regatta this season. Healy said that when the teams meet for their afternoon practice today, they will evaluate how to improve the women’s team’s performance for the Women’s New England Championship next week, which will serve as the qualifiers for the women’s Nationals.

Next weekend, the coed team will compete at the Admiral’s Cup at Kings Point, the Priddy Trophy at the University of New Hampshire and the Thompson Trophy at the Coast Guard Academy.

Once exams finish, Healy said the team will intensify its training, with conditioning in the morning in addition to regular afternoon practices on the water and meetings to discuss strategy.

In its 19 regattas so far this season, the Bulldogs have a finish percentile of 76.5.

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