The No. 2 Yale coed sailing team has won the team racing national championship for the past three years, asserting itself as the country’s most decorated sailing squad in recent history. But in that span of success, there remained one meaningful accomplishment the Bulldogs never checked off their list — until this weekend.
For the first time in this decade, Yale won the New England Team Race Championship, qualifying for nationals with sheer dominance on waters near the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. The Bulldogs won 10 out of their 11 races in the regatta, which marked the first major event of the team’s spring season.
“With a team like ours, my job is easy — everyone is so talented and works hard on being the best we can be,” captain and skipper Mitchell Kiss ’17 said. “We are very happy to have qualified with a first-place finish at the qualifiers. We don’t know if Yale sailing has ever done that before.”
The win marked the first at this regatta since at least the 2009 season, the earliest date for which records are still available on Yale’s website. In placing first this year, the Bulldogs beat out regional foes such as No. 8 Brown, No. 11 Dartmouth, No. 10 Harvard and No. 4 Boston College, which finished second with an 8–3 record.
Working in the Yale boats were skippers Ian Barrows ’17, Kiss and Malcolm Lamphere ’18 and crews Clara Robertson ’17, Charlotte Belling ’16, Natalya Doris ’17 and Chandler Gregoire ’17.
Nic Baird ’19, who did not get a chance to score because the round in which he sailed did not finish in time to count at the event, said the team was excited to come in first at the qualifier because it was an “abnormal” win for the Bulldogs. He added that the team’s two-race victory over Boston College demonstrated a significant edge over other teams.
“We are taking a lot of pride and comfort in that going into nationals, knowing that we’re pretty good at not making mistakes,” Baird said. “Even if we are not necessarily the best team in certain aspects, we are the best team all around, and it is pretty hard to mess us up.”
In mild weather conditions on Saturday, Yale raced to six straight victories. Winds shifted around more on Sunday, going from the northeast to the southwest during the course of the day. Still, the Bulldogs were equipped to deal with the adverse weather — Doris said the team had sailed previous regattas at Coast Guard, which prepared the Bulldogs for the location’s strong current and “really weird” shifty wind conditions.
Yale lost only to Dartmouth on Sunday, finishing with a near-perfect 10–1 record. The 10 wins included eight in which the Bulldogs placed two boats ahead of their opponents’ fastest boat.
The Bulldogs also had the chance to increase their record even further, but the races of a final round of five ended up not being counted for points because it could not be finished before a final cut-off of 4:30 p.m. Still, the first three of those five races were won by Eli sailors, including Baird.
“We have had other regattas over the season where the final round did not count,” Kiss said. “In this event it would not have changed our final position because we won the three races we sailed in the final round.”
This weekend’s race officially ended the team’s regular racing season, and the Bulldogs will now begin preparing for their upcoming fleet races.
Unlike this weekend’s team racing, the fleet races are individual, which means the team’s practices will change significantly in the upcoming weeks, focusing on boat speed and fleet race tactics, Kiss said.
“We are just going to keep our approach — we work well, have productive discussions, have fun, work together and there is no negative attitude,” Doris said. “We will keep doing that. We are less focused on results and just improving all the time.”
The fleet racing national qualifier is the New England Dinghy Championship, to be held at Dartmouth on April 30 and May 1. Until then, the Elis have regattas every weekend in preparation, including three next weekend.
The No. 2 Yale women’s sailing team, meanwhile, will attempt to qualify for the national championship during the Reed Trophy, hosted by Yale on April 23–24. The Bulldogs placed seventh at Connecticut College’s Emily Wick Trophy this past weekend.