Ayla Besemer

Yale’s sailing teams returned to the water this weekend for the opening of the fall season, with three top-two finishes highlighting the Bulldogs’ performance in four regattas.

Four men from the Yale coed team claimed a first-place spot at the 74th Pine Trophy, qualifying the Bulldogs for the New England Match Racing Championship in October. On home waters, the coed team finished second at the Harry Anderson Jr. Trophy, while another coed group took eighth at the Mt. Hope Bay Invite. Sailors from the women’s team headed north for an opening weekend on the Charles River, where they took second at the Toni Deutsch Regatta.

In national rankings released last Friday, the Yale coed team took No. 1 — 18 points ahead of Georgetown, which took home a national title over Yale during the summer. The women’s team is currently ranked No. 4.

“We had a good first weekend, and that sets the tone for the rest of the season,” KB Knapp ’18, who skippered at the Deutsch, said. “This year especially, everyone has improved a lot in preseason, so we have a very strong team going into the season, along with new freshman talent to add to that.”

The Pine Trophy in Connecticut is a keelboat regatta in which the top four boats qualify for the New England Match Racing Championship, which could ultimately send Yale to the ICSA Match Race National Championship in November. Ian Barrows ’17 skippered the four-man Yale boat into first, with four consecutive first-place finishes in the regatta’s final races, and 11 top-three finishes out of the 16 total races.

The regatta differed from usual college regattas and practices at Yale, where most races are sailed in two-person boats. It also has a match-racing format, in which two boats race head-to-head, as opposed to more traditional college fleet racing, where up to 18 boats race against each other. As a result, the Yale sailors involved in the race spend one weekend in October training with alumni from the Yale sailing team.

“Keelboat sailing is a lot about teamwork,” said Christopher Champa ’18, one of the crew members who brought the boat to victory. “We have to make sure we are communicating in the boat.”

At home during the Harry Anderson, Yale sailed into second, 14 points behind winner Boston College. Skipper Nicholas Baird ’19, along with crews Isabelle Rossi de Leon ’17 and Chandler Gregoire ’17, took second in the A division behind the College of Charleston. In the B Division, captain Mitchell Kiss ’17 and Clara Robertson ’17 also took second, though the pairing did manage three consecutive first-place finishes over the course of the regatta.

Gregoire said she thought the team sailed well and emphasized the Bulldogs’ continued practice of boat handling in 420 dinghies, a type of boat the team did not typically sail with last season but will be spending more time with this year.

In Boston, the women’s team finished second at the Deutsch with 120 points, six points behind winner Brown. A-division skipper Casey Klingler ’18 and crew Caroline Colwell ’18 landed in third in their division, only three points out of first, while Knapp and Kira Woods ’19 took second in the B division.

“I’ve done a lot of regattas on the Charles, so I feel like in my third year things are finally starting to come together,” Knapp said. “Our crews have improved a ton, which has helped tactically, and especially this weekend our crews did a great job of anticipating certain things … which made our boat handling really good.”

Another group of coed sailors took eighth at the Mt. Hope Bay Invite. Claire Huebner ’18 skippered to seventh in the A Division with Amelia Dobronyi ’17 as crew, while Charles Skoda ’17 and Claire Rossi de Leon ’19 took 13th in the B division.

Sailors interviewed highlighted the strong class of freshman sailors — three skippers and one crew — who joined the team, each arriving at Yale already with several sailing accolades. Louisa Nordstrom ’20 took first at the U.S. Junior Women’s Single-Handed Championship, while Graceann Nicolosi ’20 was part of the winning team racing crew in the South Atlantic Interscholastic Sailing Association championships. Chrissie Klingler ’20 took first at the I420 North American Championsip in 2015, and Dylan DiMarchi ’20 was the two-time Hawaii C420 state champion.

“I am most excited to be able to meet new people and travel around the Northeast, sailing against some of the best youth sailors in the country,” DiMarchi said of his first year at Yale.

Next weekend, the women’s team heads to Connecticut College for the Stu Nelson Trophy, while the coed team will compete in four different events, including the Nevins Trophy at Kings Point and the Hatch Brown Trophy at MIT.