Entering this past weekend’s competition in New York and Boston, the No. 2 Yale coed sailing team had already clinched a trip to the Intercollegiate Sailing National Championships. And after sailing in Branford, Connecticut, over the weekend, the No. 2 Yale women’s sailing team matched the coed squad, punching its own ticket to San Diego for nationals.
The coed team split up to compete in a trio of fleet races, finishing sixth in the Merchant Marine Academy’s Admiral’s Cup, seventh at MIT’s Boston Dinghy Cup and ninth at Boston University’s Morris Trophy. Meanwhile, on its home waters, the women’s team took home a fifth-place finish at the Reed Trophy, securing its spot in the national championship regatta next month.
“I’m really excited to be able to represent Yale this year at nationals as a freshman,” crew Kira Woods ’19 said. “We historically have a very strong women’s team … and I’m hoping I can help continue the tradition.”
For the women’s team, the weekend’s action at Yale’s McNay Family Sailing Center presented national implications — a chance to return to the ICSA Women’s National Championship, where the Elis claimed the national title a year ago. Yale, with its fifth-place performance, comfortably secured a qualifying spot, as the top nine finishers in the 16-school field earned berths to next month’s regatta.
Accustomed to a spot among the nation’s elite clubs, the Bulldogs delivered at the Reed Trophy, with the A and B division teams placing 10th and third, respectively. Skipper Casey Klingler ’18 and crew Emily Johnson ’16 finished the weekend with 10 first-place finishes in 16 A-division races, while the B-division team of skippers Marly Isler ’16 and KB Knapp ’18 and crews Woods and Claire Huebner ’18 notched 10 top-five finishes of their own. The B team excelled on Saturday, a day marked by difficult wind conditions, carrying a first-place standing into Sunday.
“[On] Saturday, wind was blowing out of the north, which means the wind was changing angles a lot [which] makes sailing more difficult,” Knapp said. “On Sunday, the breeze switched to a steadier breeze out of the south, and we got off the starting line with really good boat speed.”
Four of Yale’s six Reed Trophy competitors came away from the weekend with individual accolades, as Klingler was named a First-Team All-New England Skipper and Johnson, Knapp and Huebner were each named to their respective All-New England Second Teams.
Meanwhile, the coed team, which earned two national championships of its own in 2015, scattered itself across the northeast in three regattas, enabling many of the members of the Bulldogs’ squad to participate in the weekend’s multitudinous competition.
Yale raced three boats in New York, finishing in sixth place out of 20 competing teams, one spot behind Dartmouth but ahead of Ivy foes Harvard and Penn.
Skipper Ian Barrows ’17 and crews Natalya Doris ’17 and Isabelle Rossi de Leon ’17 finished fourth in the A division, while skipper Nic Baird ’19 and crews Doris and Charlotte Belling ’16 topped the B division with a dominant weekend performance. Yale’s B team only had two non-top-five finishes in its 11 races. Commandeering a Full Rig Laser boat for the first time in his career, Christopher Champa ’18 finished 15th in the C division.
Excluding the C division results, and Champa’s debut in the solo boat, Yale would have finished in third place, and just one point out of second overall.
The Eli delegation at the Boston Dinghy Cup enjoyed a comparable weekend of competition to its New York counterpart, finishing seventh out of 17 teams. The Bulldogs’ highest finish came from skipper Nicolas Hernandez ’19 and crew Caroline Colwell ’18, who finished second in the C division with a pair of first-place results in the nine-race weekend.
“The conditions this weekend were tough, as they always are on the Charles, but our team sailed really well and it was a great end to the regatta season,” Colwell said. “We had some tough races, but we walked away knowing that we sailed smart and, as always, learned a few things.”
The coed Bulldogs team added a third top-10 finish to the weekend’s record, taking ninth place out of 18 schools at the Morris Trophy. The two Eli boats finished seventh and ninth in the A and B divisions, respectively.
Following the coed team’s final regional competition at the New England Dinghy Championships next weekend, the entire Yale sailing squad will turn its attention to the monthlong preparation for the national championships.
“The minute [that] finals end, we go into a pretty intense postseason period,” Knapp said.
The women will kick off competition in San Diego on May 24 and the coed team on May 31, with both teams looking to defend their 2015 national titles.