Less than a week after turning varsity, the sailing team has already made its mark, earning its highest finish in an intersectional regatta in years.
Two Yale coed boats combined for a first place finish at the Charleston Spring Intersectional this weekend at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. The finish was the best that Yale has had in at least six years, according to head coach Zach Leonard ’89.
“I think everyone was quite excited about the varsity status, and it led people to enter the weekend feeling upbeat,” Leonard said. “But it was hard work over the last year and a half that led them to achieve this.”
The team of skipper Stu McNay ’04 and Kate Littlefield ’04 recorded first place finishes in six out of the 14 races sailed, winning their division easily with 65 points. In second place in the A division with 84 points was Brown, whose A boat was skippered by Chris Ashley. McNay and Ashley frequently battle each other for top spots in various collegiate regattas.
Yale’s B boat, skippered by Isabelle Kinsolving ’02 and crewed by Blanka Solta ’02, garnered 69 points — equalling the College of Charleston’s first-place finish — but Yale lost the tiebreaker and finished in second place.
“It was really helpful that Kate and Stu had been sailing together for a whole semester,” Kinsolving said. “Blanka and I were able to work well together even though it was our first race.”
The combination of the first and second-place finishes was more than enough for Yale to seize first place overall. The Elis had 134 points to second-place Charleston’s 158.
“This is an excellent performance with which to start,” McNay said. “It shows us where we are now and gives a high level from which to build.”
Both McNay and Kinsolving have been busy all winter sailing in ranking events for the U.S. Sailing Team in Florida. Although they were sailing different boats than the ones used for collegiate events, Kinsolving noted that the time spent on the water provided valuable experience.
The regatta was marked by shifty wind and very strong currents that “made for tricky sailing,” according to McNay.
It was a significant victory for the Bulldogs for several reasons. Placement in an intersectional meet, which combines several sailing districts, is more important than in-district placement because of heightened competition.
Finishes in these intersectionals not only help a team attain a berth in important future regattas, but they also factor greatly into national rankings.
Sailing World Magazine currently ranks the Yale coed boat No. 10, and the women’s team is ranked No. 5.
“This is great but it’s just a step along the way,” Leonard said. “People have to keep working hard to continue to have these kind of results. We’ve had great efforts from every level, though.”