In their first competitions of the year as the No. 1 teams in the country, the Yale coed and women’s sailing squads looked to continue their strong fall seasons at several New England regattas this past weekend.
Split between four contests in a trio of states, the teams turned in multiple noteworthy performances in a weekend marked by tough racing conditions. Members of the coed team competed in three events in Rhode Island and New Hampshire while the women’s team hosted 18 schools from across the country at the Yale Women’s Intersectional Regatta.
Though both teams entered the weekend atop the Sailing World’s coaches’ polls for the first time this year, crew Amelia Dobronyi ’17 said she believes that the new distinction did not change the teams’ mindsets as they continued their defense of three national championships.
“It is rewarding that our effort is translating directly into regatta results, but the ranking has no effect on how hard we work or the discipline with which we approach training,” Dobronyi said.
Two top-five divisional finishes propelled the women’s team to a third-place result in a windy and at times even snowy Branford Harbor. Both divisions were won by No. 3 Coast Guard Academy, which finished with just 157 points for the regatta, good for a top-five average finish over the 32 races.
Yale, which entered the weekend tied for the top national ranking with Georgetown, finished with 235 points, 52 better than its D.C. foe. Skipper Casey Klingler ’18, along with crews Isabelle Rossi de Leon ’17 and Emily Johnson ’16, placed fifth in the A division, while skipper KB Knapp ’18 and crews Claire Huebner ’18 and Kira Woods ’19 came in second in the B division at the regatta, which included 12 of the 15 nationally ranked programs.
“[Knapp] and I just placed second at our regatta last weekend, so getting another second under our belts is great,” said Woods. “This regatta had all of the best women’s teams in the country, so placing second is quite a feat.”
Meanwhile, the coed team took to the seas in three regattas outside of Connecticut.
With two berths for the National Match Racing Championships up for grabs, skipper Ian Barrows ’17 teamed up with crews Marly Isler ’16 and Nick Hernandez ’19 to compete in the regatta. The head-to-head event, which saw the Elis qualify for Nationals each of the past three years, was held in Newport, Rhode Island.
Although both Isler and Barrows were part of a Bulldog team that won the regional event last year, the trio lost to No. 6 Harvard in Sunday’s semifinals, falling short of the top-two finish necessary to advance to November’s Nationals. Yale came in third after defeating No. 15 Bowdoin in the two schools’ final match on Sunday.
“The cold and windy conditions made the racing hard for a team that grew up in places like San Diego, Florida and the Virgin Islands,” Barrows said. “The team was disappointed to not qualify for Nationals but we know our team has a lot of talent and will hopefully perform in future regattas.”
Perhaps the highlight of the weekend for the Bulldogs came when skipper Mitchell Kiss ’17 and crew Clara Robertson ’17 captured the A division at the Captain Hurst Bowl on Mascoma Lake in New Hampshire. Combined with the results of the Bulldogs’ B and C divisions, the Elis earned a second-place result overall at the Dartmouth-hosted regatta.
Overcoming below-freezing temperatures, a snowfall and wind shifts that Robertson called “particularly tricky,” the juniors clinched a two-point victory over Boston College in A when they finished five spots ahead of the BC boat in the division’s 14th and final race.
“I am originally from Michigan, so I had a lot of experience while I was growing up sailing on lakes and in cold weather,” Kiss said. “This regatta played to my advantage in that respect.”
Some of the duo’s teammates nearly matched the strong effort put forth in the A division. The freshman-senior pair of skipper Nic Baird ’19 and captain and crew Charlotte Belling ’16 placed third in the B division. In the C division, skipper Malcolm Lamphere ’18 and crew Chandler Gregoire ’17 turned in a fourth-place finish to cap off Yale’s performance at the regatta.
The No. 4 Eagles of BC, in large part thanks to a dominating performance in the C division that included five victories in 14 races, captured the overall event title.
A quintet of Elis also secured a seventh-place finish at the 16-school coed Providence College Invite in Rhode Island. The A division team of Dobronyi and skipper Eric Anderson ’16, though tied atop the division with Brown in points, finished second to the Bears due to a tiebreaker. Skipper Patrick Buehler ’18, along with the crew of Elizabeth Tokarz ’17 and Ayla Besemer ’19, placed 12th in the B division.
“The windy conditions were excellent for sailing, and allowed us to use our size to our advantage because we were able to sail faster than smaller teams,” Dobronyi said of the team’s performance on the Narragansett Bay. “The biggest takeaway from this weekend is that we are making progress toward our goals and that we are focusing on improving the right things.”
As the fall regular season nears a close, members of the coed team will again head north for competition this upcoming weekend. Two groups will travel back to Rhode Island, with one racing in Brown’s Hoyt Trophy and the other participating in Roger Williams University’s Southern Series 7.
A third coed crew will head to MIT, where Yale will try to take home the Oberg Trophy. Those Bulldogs will be joined by their teammates on the women’s squad, who will head to Cambridge to compete in MIT’s Mrs. Hurst Bowl.
Sebastian Kupchaunis contributed reporting.