The women’s team may have qualified for the national championships, but the Yale sailing teams are far from done with their season.
The Elis will travel to the New England Team Racing Championship at Tufts and the Freshmen Championships at Boston College April 26-27. The Bulldogs will also host the Southern Series Six at home that same weekend before heading to the New England Dinghy Championships at MIT and Harvard May 3-4.
During the next two weeks, the Elis will try to follow up on their third-place finish at the 37th Women’s New England Championship/Reed Trophy at Brown April 19-20. The finish qualified the Bulldogs to represent the New England Intercollegiate Sailing Association (NEISA) at the national championships in Grosse Point, Mich., June 1-10. Brown and Harvard finished first and second respectively at the Reed Trophy regatta to qualify. Fourth-place finisher Tufts and fifth-place Dartmouth will also travel to nationals.
The Bulldogs are confident about their chances in the upcoming weekends.
“We’re in a great position to qualify for both of the national championships,” Stu McNay ’04 said. “We need to place third or better at the team racing regatta. We want to set our sights on a medal at the championships and perhaps at nationals.”
At next weekend’s New England championships, Yale will be team racing for the first time since they stunned No. 1 Harvard April 5-6 at Tufts. In fleet racing, each school sends an A and B boat, whose scores are combined for the final result. One point is awarded for first, two for second, three for third and so on, with the lowest combined score winning. In team racing, schools send three boats each, which compete in single or double round-robin races.
McNay said team racing practices would make up for the team’s two weekends without a team racing regatta.
“This whole week we’ve begun and are going to do team race-style practices,” McNay said. “We have consolidated our experience from two weeks ago and improved on it. I don’t think we’ve made any leaps and bounds, but I feel we’re in a safe place with team racing.”
The women’s championships were far from the only regatta that the Bulldogs will have to look back on when they sail in the coed and team racing championships. The Elis also sailed in two non-championship races this weekend. Yale sailors traveled to the 16th Thompson Trophy at Coast Guard and the Southern Series Five at the University of Rhode Island. Yale finished 10th of 18 at the Thompson Trophy and fifth of seven at the Southern Series.
At the Thompson, Yale faced shifty winds and tricky currents in New London’s Thames River. Each division sailed 18 races: eight on Saturday and 10 in Sunday’s somewhat better conditions. McNay and Courtney Cox ’06 sailed in A division on Saturday, and Arthur Kinsolving ’03 and Sarah Himmelfarb ’06 sailed in A division Sunday. Brandon Wall ’03 and Meredith Killion ’05 sailed in the B division on both days.
Yale finished eighth in the A division and seventh in the B division at the Thompson. McNay and Cox did well in the tricky weather Saturday, but Yale performed less well on Sunday, relegating the Bulldogs to 10th.
“We weren’t sailing as much to win as we were to give everyone a good experience,” McNay said. “We were particularly looking to hone some of our skills before the team racing this coming weekend.”
With their top sailors at the Reed and the Thompson, the Bulldogs struggled at the Southern Series. The race was very unusual, with especially changeable east-northeast winds and nine combined-division races with both A and B division boats from each school sailing in each race. Yale finished fifth of the seven schools competing.
The contrast between A and B divisions, however, was striking. Sailing in A division, Benoit Bewley ’05 and Katie Baker ’05 finished fourth overall, but Eric Steinlauf ’05 and Deniz Ozaena ’04 were relegated to last.
Bewley said he was happy with his boat’s performance.
“We were very excited with our finish this weekend,” Bewley said. “Next weekend we are sailing at the Southern Series again. It’s not a very competitive regatta, but at least for myself and my crew we were excited because we seemed to be really fast and we seemed to be putting together the things we were learning. We were getting top five finishes in almost all our races, and improving on last year.”