SAILING | Elis weather storms, finish second

The No. 2 coed sailing team competed for the first time since its second-place finish at the ICSA Match Racing National Championships on Nov. 18.
The No. 2 coed sailing team competed for the first time since its second-place finish at the ICSA Match Racing National Championships on Nov. 18. Photo by Zeenat Mansoor.

Back on the water for the first time this year, the No. 2 coed sailing team overcame canceled flights and canceled races to put in a strong showing at the Bob Bavier Team Race in Charleston, S.C.

The Bulldogs finished second out of 10 teams in the round-robin style regatta. Georgetown, the nation’s top ranked fleet, won the regatta through a tie-breaking procedure after Yale and Georgetown both finished with identical 10–2 records.

“We went into this weekend not having practiced on the water since November,” crew Heather May ’13 said. “That put us behind some of the teams that had been practicing for a couple weeks. I think we did a really good job of not stressing out about that stuff.”

Six Yale sailors made the trip down to Charleston with head coach Zachary Leonard ’89. May and newly elected captain Chris Segerblom ’14 raced together, as did skipper Cameron Cullman ’13 and crew Kate Gaumond ’15. Skipper Graham Landy ’14 was paired with crew Eugenia Custo Greig ’15.

The team did not arrive in Charleston until 2:30 a.m. Saturday morning, after inclement weather forced the team’s Friday night flight from Charlotte to Charleston to turn back. All six team members and their coach packed into a rental car and drove the 200 miles to their hotel in Charleston. The next morning at 9:00 a.m., less than seven hours after arriving, the sailors reported to their boats on the Cooper River, but more bad weather kept the races from beginning until 2:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon. The Elis raced only five of their nine races scheduled for that day and won four, their only loss coming to Georgetown after a slow start.

“It’s kind of unfortunate that we’re at the mercy of mother nature, but that’s the way it is in this sport,” May said.

Segerblom added that the Bulldogs were satisfied with their performance on the first day, even without having had the chance to prepare.

On Sunday, regatta officials shortened the first leg of the racecourse when a strong breeze and heavy current from the rainfall made upwind sailing difficult. Yale won four races to finish the first round-robin with a 8-1 record. Without enough time to complete another full round-robin, the competition was narrowed down to a final round of four teams: Yale, Georgetown, Stanford and the College of Charleston. Regatta officials planned for each of these teams to be able to race their three opponents twice more.

In the first round, Yale lost to Stanford but beat out Charleston and then looked to avenge their loss against the Hoyas the day before. With Segerblom and May in the lead, the remaining Yale boats fought to stay out of last place and secure their team the victory. Coleman and Gaulmand were able to take third place and seal the win. The teams began the second round of races, but the wind died out before the last race could be completed. The regatta was then called to an end, and only the first round between the final four teams was counted in the official score.

Yale and Georgetown both finished with 10-2 records and had split their two races, so a further tiebreaker was needed to decide the winner. Because Georgetown won the teams’ first race with a lower and better score, it won the head to head point total 19–23 and was declared the winner of the Bob Bavier Team Race.

Despite the narrow defeat, head coach Zachary Leonard was pleased with the team’s performance.

“It was very much a team effort. All six of the sailors did a great job. It was pretty much a warm up for us,” Leonard said, adding that his team has the depth and talent to maintain a balanced attack all year. “We have a lot of kids who are quite good at their roles. We’ll just keep trying to get better. We have a lot of kids who can contribute.”

Segerblom said that the team’s goal is to qualify for both the team and fleet racing national championships and to be in a position to win both competitions in May.

The team will begin sailing intensively on its spring break trip to Florida, but until then, Segerblom said, the team’s anxiousness to get back on the water will work to its advantage.

“This first regatta in Charleston bodes well for what we can do this season,” he said. “Once we get to actually start practicing, who knows what can happen?”

The coed sailing team travels to a regatta on  the Charles River in Cambridge, Mass. this weekend.

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