The Yale women’s and coed sailing teams entered the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association national championship weekend in May with high expectations after last season’s sweep of the three championship regattas. Though the Bulldogs fell short of their championship total from a season ago, they left San Diego with one national championship and two other top-five finishes, representing the best overall finish of any collegiate program.
Following their lone national title — their fourth-straight coed team racing championship — the Elis begin their 2016–17 campaign with high hopes of reclaiming the other two titles next spring.
“In the end, we were pretty happy with how things went,” skipper Nic Baird ’19 said. “Sailing is not a sport where the same team wins every time just because they’re better. You have to be a whole lot better, just because of how unpredictable things can be.”
The Yale women’s team opened national competition with the Sperry College Sailing Women’s National Regatta. With five of the six sailors on the team making their nationals debut, the Bulldogs treaded water in the opening stages of the regatta, recording just three top-five finishes in their first 18 races.
Sitting in eighth place with 18 races remaining, the Elis began a surge up the leaderboard in the second half of the regatta, which ended with a narrow victory over Ivy foe Dartmouth.
Third-place finishes by both the Division A pair of Casey Klingler ’18 and Emily Johnson ’16 and the Division B duo of Katharina Knapp ’18 and Clara Robertson ’17 propelled the Bulldogs past the Big Green in the final two races of the regatta and into fifth place.
The Coast Guard Academy cruised into first place by a 40-point margin over runner-up Brown, notching top-two finishes in nearly half of the regatta’s 36 races en route to its first ever Gerald C. Miller Trophy win.
Yale’s momentum carried over from the women’s final to the coed LaserPerformance Team Race national championship. Yale’s six-sailor team, which included ICSA All-Americans Baird, Ian Barrows ’17, Malcolm Lamphere ’18 and Charlotte Belling ’16, breezed through the preliminary round robin with a nearly perfect 14–1 record.
With the field narrowed down in a round of eight and then a final four, the Bulldogs compiled a 7–3 record in their remaining races and won a head-to-head tiebreaker by defeating Georgetown in the final round.
The Elis’ victory in the Team Race final earned them their fourth consecutive Walter Cromwell Wood Bowl Trophy, having defended the title since 2013.
“We put a lot of hard work into it and were really excited, but there wasn’t a lot of celebration until afterward because we had to focus for the coed race [the fleet racing national championship],” Baird said. “[The title] definitely gave us confidence going into coeds.”
Yale concluded its competition in San Diego with the Gill Coed National Championship, which began on June 2. Fielding a steady Division A team of Barrows and Meredith Megarry ’17 alongside a five-person Division B rotation, the Bulldogs jostled with Georgetown and the Coast Guard Academy before settling atop the table in the races immediately following the regatta’s midway point.
But Yale could not hold its lead through to the finish, as the Hoyas seized first place after the 11B race and never looked back. Though the Elis’ first boat finished with a regatta-best 119 points, the second boat struggled down the stretch, placing in the top five just three times in the second half and finishing in sixth.
The team combined for a third-place overall finish, scoring nine points ahead of fourth-place Boston College and far ahead of Ivy opponents Brown and Penn.
The Bulldogs begin fall racing on Sept. 10, when the coed team will race for the Harry Anderson and Pine Trophies at Yale and Coast Guard, respectively, while the Eli women will vie for the Toni Deutsch Trophy at MIT.