In a four-regatta weekend that included an impressive all-freshman victory, the Yale coed and women’s sailing teams both qualified to compete at the Atlantic Coast Championships, one of the most prestigious regattas of the Elis’ fall season.
The Bulldogs’ No. 2 coed squad boasted top-five finishes across the board for the A division in its three competitions, including the Erwin Schell Trophy, which determined a berth in the ACCs, while the No. 2 women’s team earned fifth place in the Victorian Coffee Urn which had identical implications for the ACCs. The performances of each team at the Championships, the final regatta of the season, will play a role in dictating the spring schedule, whose events are weighted more strongly than the fall’s when calculating national rankings.
“This was a really successful weekend,” crew Ayla Besemer ’19 said. “The freshmen displayed immense potential. Our team raced really well and did everything we needed to do.”
The coed team was split among three regattas over the course of the weekend. On the Charles River, the team participated in the 74th Erwin Schell Trophy, encountering frustrating Halloween weather conditions that canceled much of Saturday’s action.
The A division, skippered by Ian Barrows ’17 with a crew of Amelia Dobronyi ’17 and Natalya Doris ’17, won three out of 10 races in Boston, finishing fifth, just eight points behind second place in a field of 18 teams. Seven teams in total advanced from the regatta to the ACCs.
“At the Schell, the coed team did exceptionally well on Sunday on the Charles River, which is notoriously a very hard venue,” skipper Nic Baird ’19, who competed at the freshman-only Nickerson Regatta, said. “They were able to get back into the top five and because the points were so close, they were in a position to win the regatta going into the last set.”
Meanwhile, at the Roger Williams-hosted Dave Perry Team Race, which is a team racing event rather than the more typical fleet racing form of competition. Although a lack of wind took its toll in Rhode Island as well, cutting the sailing short on Saturday, improved conditions on Sunday enabled competition to continue, with Yale finishing last in the five-school event.
According to Besemer, who raced in the Dave Perry regatta, the six-sailor crew was rather unaccustomed to team races entering the weekend, but benefitted in terms of preparation for future events.
“It was a learning experience,” Besemer said. “It’s a new type of regatta for us. We learned everything we possibly could [about the different style of competition.]”
Just outside of Boston, Tufts hosted the Nickerson Regatta, where Yale’s coed boats of first-year collegiate sailors took the top spot, defeating the Jumbos by 16 points to secure a victory in the 20-school field. In the B division, Baird and crew Claire Rossi de Leon ’19 contributed significantly to the team’s victory with an impressive series of straight bullets, winning the six races the duo competed in.
While neither the Dave Perry Team Race nor the Nickerson Regatta has any bearing on the spring schedule, the two events provided valuable opportunities to gain experience, especially for underclassmen, according to multiple sailors.
As for the women’s team, the Bulldogs finished the Victorian Regatta in fifth place, just 16 points behind regatta winner University of Rhode Island. Consistent performances from the fleet contributed to the team’s success in the fall qualifier, at which eight schools in the 15-school field moved on to the ACCs.
According to Isabelle Rossi de Leon ’17, who was a member of the A crew, a standout third-place result from the B division team of skipper KB Knapp ’18 and her crews captain Charlotte Belling ’16 and Claire Huebner ’18 demonstrated the Elis’ potential moving forward.
“Both divisions sailed really well at the Urn,” Rossi de Leon said. “We were less than 10 points out of first for most of the regatta. I know we can pull off a fantastic finish at ACCs. This is what we’ve been working for. My boat (with Casey Klingler ’18) felt great. We were consciously pulling together everything we’ve learned this season.”
Looking ahead toward the final races of the fall season, both squads will journey to Norfolk, Virginia to compete in the coed and women’s Atlantic Coast Championships on Nov. 14 and 15.
A year ago, the coed team took home a fourth-place result at the ACCs while the women claimed an eight-place finish.
“The ACC is simply the most competitive regatta for us in the fall,” Baird said. “If you win, then you’re the Atlantic Coast Champion, but … what matters is that we gain as much experience and practice that we can from that event as it is the closest to Nationals-level competition that we can get in the fall season.”
While the ACCs will provide the last major venue for team competition in the fall, three coed sailors have their eyes set on a separate prize for now.
Baird, Mitchell Kiss ’17, and Malcolm Lamphere ’18 will head down to Old Dominion a week earlier than the rest of the squad to compete in the Men’s Singlehanded National Championships, where the sailors race in individual boats called lasers. The trio of skippers represents three of the four qualifiers from the Northeastern conference.
“Singlehandeds are fun,” Baird said, “It’s a very different boat than what we normally use and it’s very physical. We’ll be sailing against a number of current Olympic hopefuls and world champions. Needless to say, it will be hard.”
The ACCs mark the end of the fall season for both sailing squads, who will then enter their offseason, which emphasizes indoor strength training and strategy.