The No. 3 women’s sailing team placed second behind Harvard at the Women’s New England Championships this weekend at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London.

The top five of the 13 teams present at the New England Championships qualified for the Women’s North American Championships set to take place in early June at the Austin Yacht Club in Austin, Texas. The Elis won the North American Championships last season and are hoping to repeat.

Captain Molly Carapiet ’06 took second behind Harvard in the A division with crews Jenn Hoyle ’05 and Julie Papanek ’05, while skipper Emily Hill ’07 and crews Meghan Pearl ’06 and Kendra Emhiser ’07 placed one point out of first behind Dartmouth in the B division.

Carapiet said that despite minor setbacks, she was pleased with the Bulldogs’ performance.

“This weekend there were very challenging conditions and a small fleet, but as a team I thought we sailed pretty well,” she said. “We have some things to work on before the nationals in June, but we accomplished our goal [of qualifying].”

With all six members of last year’s championship team returning this season, the Elis are in a good position to win the national title for the second year in a row.

Carapiet said the team has improved significantly since last season, but the Bulldogs should not underestimate the rest of the field.

“Every regatta is different, so who knows?” she said. “There are a lot of other good teams out there, too.”

The Elis also placed second behind USC at their last intersectional regatta of the season, the Thompson Trophy held by Connecticut College in New London.

Skipper Stu McNay ’05 and crews Meredith Killion ’05 and Benoit Bewley ’05 placed fifth out of 18 teams in the A division, and Zach Brown ’08 and crews Sarah Himmelfarb ’06, Giovanni Zevi Della Porta ’07 and Bewley took third in the B division.

Challenging conditions and an unusually large number of fouls caused trouble for the teams, Brown said.

“It was pretty breezy … and everybody was making mistakes,” he said. “It was hard to be flawless in every race; it was hard to control having bad races, [and] it was pretty frustrating.”

The Elis experienced a major setback that cost them first place when they were penalized for beginning the race over the starting line, although they did not think they were in the wrong, Brown said.

The team went on to win the race, but was given last place out of all 18 teams plus two points because of the penalty, he said.

“We ended up losing by just a few points,” Brown said. “If we wouldn’t have had the OCS [penalty], then we would have won the regatta overall.”

Despite the disappointing finish, the Elis said they gained valuable experience from sailing in the conditions at Connecticut College, where next weekend’s New England Team Racing Championships will be held.

Brown, who will be sailing in the New England Championships next week, said the team is set to do well after a season of solid preparation in team racing. Team racing is a less common version of collegiate fleet racing in which schools send three boats each to compete in round-robin races.

The Elis also sailed in the New England Freshmen Single-Crew Championships this weekend, hosted by MIT. Yale took 8th place, while Harvard took the top spot. Rufus Peabody ’08 and crew Abby Coplin ’08 represented the Bulldogs at the event.

Although the pair started out strong, a couple of key mistakes on Sunday brought their score up, Peabody said.

“I was personally a bit disappointed with eighth considering we spent most of Saturday in fourth,” he said. “We struggled a bit at the end, [but] I think overall it was a fairly solid performance.”

Next weekend, the Elis will sail in the New England Team Racing Championships in an attempt to qualify for the North American Team Racing Championships, and Yale will host the Southern Series Six, featuring teams from across southern New England.