Although the weekend featured beautiful weather, the sunny days did not sweep away the clouds of disappointment for the women’s sailing team.
In a weekend that featured three regattas for the Bulldogs, the women’s team competed for the Reed Trophy in the New England Championships at Connecticut College, where it failed to qualify for the National Championships for the first time in at least five years. The team finished in eighth place; had they earned only four points more, the Elis would have finished in fifth place, securing a berth at Nationals.
The extremely close finish made the loss even more disappointing for the team, which was ranked second in the nation going into this weekend’s qualifiers.
The women sailed in flat waters and shifty winds that came from all four directions, making it more difficult for them to sail consistently. The team has always struggled with these tricky conditions.
“It wasn’t easy to pinpoint any one thing that ever went wrong, which made it even more frustrating,” Hannah Oakland ’07 said. “Emily [Hill ’07] and I had some great races, some mediocre, and not very many terrible ones, but it just was never quite enough to get ourselves out of that middle path.”
The coed team had sailors at the Thompson Trophy at the Coast Guard Academy, where they finished third overall. The Division A boat, skippered by captain Zach Brown ’08 with crew Grace Becton ’09, finished 11th after a slow start on the first day. In Division B, skipper Thomas Barrows ’10 and crew Abigail Coplin ’08 finished first in the division by sailing consistently over the two days. The Division B boat finished in the top five in half of their 16 races.
Unfortunately, the team overall did not share their performance.
“[As a team,] we were inconsistent in that we made a few errors early on that we weren’t able to totally recover from,” Barrows said. “If we were more consistent, we would have be running for first.”
The team at Coast Guard faced variable sailing conditions of light breezes and strong currents. During one race, the wind completely changed directions 180 degrees and the Bulldogs ended up finishing next to last. These conditions factored into the inconsistency that the team struggled with this weekend.
“For this regatta, it was important to be able to dig ourselves out of a hole after not doing well and putting it behind us,” Barrows said. “It’s a pretty important skill to have because it gives you confidence, and at important regattas, you need that confidence in order to do well.”
At Boston University’s George Morris Trophy Intersectional, the Bulldogs finished second. This overall standing was boosted by strong performances from the Division A boat consisting of Matt Barry ’07 and Hannah Aultman ’08, who finished first in their division. Also, the Division B boat, skippered by John Kempton ’10 with crew Emmet Smith ’09, made a big jump from 11th place after the first day to fourth on the second day, which helped their standings at the end of the regatta.
“Matt sailed pretty consistently throughout the regatta, but in our division, we started off slow,” Kempton said. “As we figured things out and got used to the conditions, we got better at sailing together and made some big gains on the second day.”
Although the season is now over for the women’s team, its members will continue to go out on the water. This time, it won’t be for the benefit of the women’s team, but to provide moral support for their teammates on the coed squad.
“The really great thing about our team is that we have a number of good sailors, which makes us much stronger,” Oakland said. “We’re going to go out there every day to try and help out the team-racing and coed teams so they can do well on their New England qualifiers and hopefully learn from our mistakes.”
Next weekend, the Bulldogs will compete in team racing at the Fowle Trophy, hosted by Harvard, and the Southern Series VI, hosted by Salve Regina.