It’s only the second week into the season, but sailor Zach Brown ’08 is already getting his shot at the big time.

Brown and crew Jenn Hoyle ’05 finished fifth in B division at the Captain Hurst Bowl in Hanover, N.H., this weekend, where the No. 4 Bulldogs finished third out of 24 teams.

Brown said despite his extremely successful pre-college career — he finished first out of 75 boats at the 2004 420 Midwinters — his first collegiate regatta was a challenge.

“It’s an entirely different type of racing,” Brown said. “It’s really competitive, and it’s pretty stacked competition. It gives less room for error — I made mistakes that I hope to work out over the next few weeks of practice, but I was pretty happy with how I did.”

While Brown was getting his first taste of NEISA competition in B division, his teammates Stu McNay ’05 and crew Meredith Killion ’05 were sailing in A division, where they finished third. Lack of wind at Dartmouth made it impossible to sail on Saturday and severely delayed racing on Sunday, but McNay and Killion made the most of the four chances they got, winning the fourth and final race of the regatta.

Killion, who is the captain of the coed team, said the fact that only four races were sailed in each division changed the nature of the regatta, especially because the average regatta includes at least 10 races per division.

“Each team only had four races so if you had just one race that was bad you were pretty much out of the running for the top spots,” Killion said. “It was really hard to be consistent, and one bad race out of four is a lot worse than one bad race out of 18.”

The Bulldogs’ consistency was nearly enough to overtake second-place finisher University of Rhode Island, which finished only three points ahead of the Elis, with 53 points. No team, however, could catch the No. 2 Harvard Cantabs, who showed that losing a College Sailor of the Year (Cardwell Potts ’04) for the third year in a row has done little damage to their program. Harvard has won the Fowle Trophy — awarded for the best overall performance in sailing’s six national championships — every year since 2001. The Crimson won the regatta with 38 points — 15 points ahead of the URI and 18 in front of Yale.

Killion said she thought the Elis had a good shot at dethroning Harvard this season.

“It’s about time for them to not win [the Fowle Trophy],” Killion said. “We have one of the best chances we’ve had in a long time to do well.”

Yale has never won a Fowle Trophy, but the Bulldog’s participation in the New England Sloop Championships next weekend will give them their first shot in years at the national sloops title and the ten Fowle points associated with it.

Brown said he was unimpressed by the Cantab’s Fowle dynasty.

“Sailing this weekend against them I felt they really didn’t even sail that much better than us,” Brown said. “[McNay] and [Molly Carapiet ’06] showed at the Harry Anderson last week that they can beat up on Harvard any day. It’s hard to determine in four races, but our team has a lot more depth, and I definitely think we can surpass Harvard.”

While the varsity team was facing still waters at Dartmouth, Yale’s less experienced sailors were having similar problems Sunday at the Freshman Series One at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, where they finished fifth of nine teams. The wind did not start up until 1:30 on Sunday, allowing for only six races in each division. Rufus Peabody ’08 and crew Abby Coplin ’08 finished fifth of 18 in the A boat while Giovanni Zevi ’07 and Hilary Shapiro ’08 finished 12th in B.

“[The rookies] didn’t have a lot of wind, and they did a really great job,” Killion said. “[Peabody] ended up winning the last two races, which is really great. Both teams were sailing boats that I’m not sure they had ever practiced with before.”

Next week the Elis travel to Boston for the Hatch Brown Trophy at Boston University and the Metro Series Two at MIT. Other Eli sailors will head for Niantic Bay to compete in the New England Sloop Championships, while the No. 1 women’s team will open their season at the Mrs. Hurst Bowl at Dartmouth.