The sailing team scored top finishes in two team racing regattas this weekend, showing signs of newfound strength just three weeks before the New England Team Racing Championships.

The Bulldogs sailed away with first place out of a field of 11 at the Ted Ferrarone Team Race at home on Saturday and Sunday. The team also placed fourth of nine at the Friis Trophy Team Race hosted by Tufts in Boston.

In a break from years past, the Elis have decided to focus on team racing in addition to their usual individual fleet racing in order to utilize the depth of talent on this season’s squad. Team racing is a less common version of collegiate fleet racing in which schools send three boats each to compete in round-robin races.

This weekend represented the Bulldogs’ last chance to practice in a team racing event before the upcoming New England Championships, All-American skipper Stu McNay ’05 said.

McNay said although the Elis came out on top in the Ferrarone, the home advantage wasn’t as great as it might have been because of unusual weather conditions.

“It’s always nice to sail on your home water because you get a feel for the pattern that the wind follows,” he said, “but this weekend we saw an abnormal wind … [that] made for tricky racing, which we do not see on a daily basis at practice.”

After the gold and silver fleets were determined on Saturday, the unusual conditions allowed the sailors to complete only one full round robin on Sunday, in which Yale and Dartmouth tied with a 6-1 record. However, the Elis outsailed the Big Green in the second, incomplete round robin, and according to ICSA procedures, this race was counted as a sail-off in order to break the tie. Forty races were sailed overall.

At the Friis, Yale had another showdown with Dartmouth, but this time the Big Green came out on top, slipping into third place while the Elis took fourth. Both teams finished with a record of 6-5, but Dartmouth got the edge by beating the Bulldogs in the two races in which the teams met.

Captain Matt Barry ’07 said the Tufts venue is known for its difficulty, but the conditions, unlike those at Yale, were not particularly troublesome.

“The Tufts site is set on Mystic Lake, which is notorious for fickle wind,” he said. “But besides that, it was warm and nice.”

Hannah Oakland ’07 said five of the six Elis who sailed in the Friis were sophomores, which gave the team a sense of cohesiveness that may have contributed to their overall performance.

“Teamwork is really important, and we were able to work well together since we are such close friends,” she said.

The Elis did not participate in any other regattas this weekend because those sailors not involved in the two contests stayed in New Haven to help run the Ferrarone race.

Due to Yale’s significant improvement in team racing this year, the Ferrarone has gained more importance among team racing events, said McNay.

“The Friis regatta at Tufts used to be the top team race regatta of the weekend,” he said. “But this year, because of our recent successes as a team, a lot of the other schools choose to send their top team down to Yale to face our squad.”

After all their practice this season, the Bulldogs have the opportunity to be serious contenders at the New England Fleet Racing Championships, despite the uncertainties associated with the event.

“In team racing there are many uncertainties [because] it is very easy to unintentionally break rules,” McNay said. “At the New Englands, we’ll see lots of teams protesting other teams in the hopes of scoring a disqualification. It’s always uncertain how the results will come out, but I’m confident our team will sail quite well.”

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