First place turned out to be an elusive, fair-weather friend for the women’s sailing team this weekend.

The Bulldogs wrapped up their fall season with a second-place finish at the Atlantic Coast Women’s Championships at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y.

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After the first day, the Elis were leading with St. Mary’s College close behind, and they pulled even further ahead after the first few races of the second day. But bad starts later on in the day forced the Bulldogs to fight from behind for entire races.

“The key to winning in sailing is consistency, and it’s really hard to stay consistent over two days, 17 races and changing conditions,” said captain Emily Hill ’07, who sailed in Division A with Hannah Oakland ’07. “It’s just something that we’re going to work on. It would have been great to win, but I’m proud of our results.”

Fair weather, moderately windy conditions and choppy waves were favorable for the Bulldogs, who tend to sail better in windier conditions.

“As a team, we generally have pretty good performances in the breeze, so the fact that there was good wind helped us,” said Jane Macky ’09, who crewed six races on Saturday in Division B. “As for the rest of the conditions, everybody was dealing with the same things, so we were pretty happy with the conditions.”

Kendra Emhiser ’07 said the Bulldogs made several mistakes and took too many risks in the third and fourth races of the second day, costing the team its lead. Team members said that despite their initial disappointment, they were able to regroup well after the bad races, demonstrating their ability to come back after a struggle.

“On the second day, we were winning by 15 points but we ended up losing by six points,” said Marla Menninger ’10, who crewed in Division B for Emhiser. “It was really close for the whole regatta. We had some amazing races and it was good sailing overall, other than that one set.”

At most regattas, members sail a set consisting of two races and then sit for the next set while the other division races.

Because this venue had enough boats for both divisions to sail the entire time, the Elis struggled with keeping perspective on their overall performance. Team members said that not being able to discuss overall strategy with their coach between sets made consistent sailing more challenging.

Emhiser said that because the Elis were focused on winning individual races, boats in both divisions struggled with inconsistency. In order to win the regatta overall, the team didn’t need to win each race, but only to finish in the top five with consistency.

“We realized that we have to look at the big picture instead of the individual races, which means taking fewer risks,” she said. “If we took a more conservative approach, we could have gotten good starts that would allow us to be top five.”

Members of the co-ed sailing team also raced in Narragansett Bay, where the Bulldogs finished sixth in the Atlantic Coast Tournament hosted by Salve Regina University in Newport, R.I.

The Division A boat, skippered by Thomas Barrows ’10 and crewed by Abby Coplin ’08, sailed well and placed first in their division. The Division B boat, consisting of Kate Hagemann ’09, Sarah Lihan ’10 and Kate Williams ’08, had difficulties in the first half of the races and finished ninth in their division.

Now that their fall season has ended, members of the sailing team said they will be using the upcoming off-season to rest for the spring season, which begins in February.

“We had a lot of fun this season working, practicing and traveling together,” Hill said. “We’re all looking forward to the downtime, which will be a nice refresher for the spring.”