The Yale coed and women’s sailing teams launched their 2017 fall seasons with promising performances at home and away last weekend.
The women’s team traveled to the Charles River and came in seventh at the Toni Deutsch Trophy hosted by MIT. Meanwhile, part of the coed crew traveled to Roger Williams University to secure a victory at the Mt. Hope Bay Invitational, while other members opened the season on home waters with a second-place finish at the 43rd Henry H. Anderson Jr. Trophy.
“We did a great job as a team getting off the starting line well,” said skipper Nic Baird ’19, who competed in A division this weekend alongside crew Graceann Nicolosi ’20. “My crew and I did a great job being patient when things weren’t clear, and we did a great job taking calculated risks at the right time.”
The women’s team faced unfavorable conditions on the Charles across both days of racing, and several of the weekend’s races had to be canceled because of a lack of wind. Ultimately, the Eli crew settled for a seventh-place finish with a total of 224 points, just 17 points behind sixth-place finisher Brown. Boston College took home the prize with 104 points. This marks a decline from last year, when the women’s squad finished the Toni Deutsch Trophy in second place, again losing the first-place spot to the Bears.
According to women’s team captain Claire Huebner ’18, the Bulldogs are currently in the process of recovering from graduating one of the largest senior classes in team history. The team graduated nearly all of its crews last spring, and given that crewing is only one of two positions in sailing, Huebner noted the immense impact the loss would have on the team. However, the captain remains optimistic about the development of the incoming first-year class, many of whom competed over the weekend.
“It was definitely a big shift on our team to lose those seniors,” Huebner said. “But we have a lot of first years who are working really hard and learning incredibly quickly in order to fill those roles.”
Claudia Loiacono ’21 and Sonia Lingos-Utley ’21 are both first-year crews who are learning to fill the gaps left by the class of 2017. In Lingos-Utley’s case, she shifted from being a skipper in high school sailing to learning the crew position in order to help meet the current needs of the Bulldog squad.
Despite the challenges of the team’s opening weekend, Lingos-Utley and Huebner recognize strengths that are already apparent.
“Everyone on the team is so talented and works so hard,” Lingos-Utley said. “Our practices are so efficient. I never feel like our time is wasted, and that’s something I’m not used to [compared to my high school experience].”
Huebner added that the team is returning five of the seven women who won the national title in the spring and that those five will form a valuable core for the team this season.
The coed squad had better luck away and at home. The Bulldogs dominated at Roger Williams University, triumphing in 10 of the weekend’s 18 races. Yale finished the Mt. Hope Bay Invitational in first place by a 52-point margin, a remarkable improvement from last year’s eighth-place finish at the same regatta. Tufts came in second with 90 points.
“It was nice having my first college regatta not be the most intense regatta because it helped me get into the groove,” said Lingos-Utley, who crewed alongside skippers Dylan DiMarchi ’20 and Huebner. “I was learning so much from everyone around me, and it was easy to get back into it.”
The Elis enjoyed similar success on home waters competing for the 43rd Henry H. Anderson Jr. Trophy. The team maintained its second-place position throughout both days of racing and finished the regatta as runner up with 176 points, just seven points behind first-place Boston University’s 169.
For the coed team, whose roster overlaps with the women’s team’s, the large graduating class of 2017 also posed an obstacle. According to Baird, this gap will be both positive and negative for the team because although it lost many of its star sailors, this is a chance for the Bulldogs to have a fresh start. Baird added that the large first-year class will be an advantage in recovering from the loss and that the motivation level of the team is already high.
The Yale coed and women’s sailing teams together welcomed 12 first years to the team this season. According to Loiacono, only five of them were recruited, and the team was fortunate to receive seven walk-ons with prior experience in sailing. Loiacono sees these additions to the team, coupled with the expertise of the upper-level students, as a great strength of the Bulldog crews entering their 2017 fall campaign.
“We have sailors that just know what they’re doing,” Loiacono said. “On the racecourse … our sailors know what’s going on, and if they do something wrong, they know exactly what they did wrong as soon as it happens, and they’re actively trying to fix it.”
The Bulldogs will only get busier after launching their fall season. The coed squad will split up to conquer the Nevins Trophy, the Hatch Brown Trophy and the Central Series 2 this weekend. The women’s team will race at the Stu Nelson regatta hosted by Connecticut College.
Selena Cho | firstname.lastname@example.org