The Yale coed and women’s sailing teams battled tough competition and tougher weather conditions across the Northeast with disappointing results this weekend.
The Bulldogs traveled to four separate regattas hosted at three venues across two days of racing. The coed squad competed this weekend for the 75th Danmark, Hewitt and George Warren Smith trophies and placed 11th, fourth and 14th, respectively. The women’s team raced at the Regis Bowl and ended the weekend in fifth place. Yale won three of these regattas last year.
“We didn’t do so well this weekend, but we did better on Sunday than on Saturday, which means we are getting better,” said skipper Martin Tipton ’21, who sailed at the Smith Trophy on a team composed entirely of first-year sailors. “[That] is the goal of these races.”
The coed team ended the weekend on a disappointing note at the 75th Danmark Trophy, hosted by the Coast Guard Academy on the Thames River, finishing the race in 11th place out of 20 teams, with 264 points. This year’s result marked a significant fall from the coeds’ success at this time last year, when the team took home the Danmark Trophy with an impressive 50-point margin over of host Coast Guard. The College of Charleston took the prize home this year with 197 points, and MIT followed in second place with 212 points. According to crew Kira Woods ’19, the Danmark Trophy was projected to be the most challenging event of the mid-season weekend because it featured teams from three different conferences, and teams tend to send their best sailors to interconference events.
The Bulldogs achieved better results at the Hewitt Trophy, hosted by Dartmouth on Mascoma Lake. The coed team finished the regatta in fourth place with 132 points, just 16 points behind third-place finisher Tufts. Host Dartmouth ultimately won the 15-team trophy with 83 points. Although the finish in New Hampshire was Yale’s top performance of the weekend, it still marked a decline from last year, when the Elis won the Hewitt Trophy for the third consecutive year and by a 40-point margin.
A little closer to home, a coed squad entirely comprised of first years took on the notoriously variable winds of the Charles River for MIT’s Smith Trophy. Though the Bulldogs ended the regatta in 14th place out of 18 teams, it was a valuable learning experience for the four first-year sailors who represented the team in Cambridge.
“The whole group had very little experience sailing on the Charles, so we weren’t as prepared … for the conditions,” said Tipton, who sailed in B Division this weekend. “It was a really nice experience though, to get to be closer with some of my classmates. … The Charles is a perfect place to become comfortable with very inconstant breezes. I’m sure the coaches want us to be able to sail in all conditions, and this was a way to expose a lot of freshmen.”
Also on the Charles River, the Yale women’s sailing team took on competitors from across New England at the Regis Bowl, hosted by Boston University. Despite frustrating wind conditions on the Charles, the Bulldogs sailed to a fifth-place finish with 109 points, just nine points behind the host Terriers, who took fourth place. Brown came out on top with 81 points. Like the weekend’s other regattas, Yale’s performance at the Regis Bowl this year marks a drop off from last fall’s, in which the team took first place, 50 points ahead of runner-up Boston College.
Across regattas and venues, the Bulldogs battled unfavorable weather conditions. Four different sailors spoke to the frustrating lack of wind throughout the two days of racing.
The Bulldogs who traveled to the Thames for the Danmark Trophy faced delays, race course adjustments and eventually race cancellations due first to thunderstorms and later to unstable breezes. The Elis that traveled to Mascoma Lake for the Hewitt Trophy also faced race cancellations, when the wind was too light to carry out the scheduled races. The two regattas held on the Charles were pushed forward, despite persistent rain during the first day of racing. Captain and skipper Claire Huebner ’18, who sailed in B Division at the Regis Bowl, explained that, once the wind drops below a certain threshold, the boats do not move well enough to race, which leads to lengthy wind delays, as race organizers do not want to hold races that are not skill-based.
“This basically takes all the strategy out of the races,” said Huebner. “Instead it becomes almost random who does well, depending on who happens to get into the wind. … This can be frustrating because we end up waiting at venues for hours until the wind picks up enough to sail.”
According to skipper Chrissie Klingler ’20, keeping a sharp eye out for wind puffs and being quick to adjust to shifty wind patterns are great advantages in competing in a venue as notoriously unpredictable as the Charles. Klingler and Woods, who paired up to race in A Division at the Regis Bowl, both emphasized the importance of consistency in overcoming shifty conditions.
About halfway through their fall campaign, the Yale coed and women’s sailing teams are looking forward to settling into a rhythm and finishing in November with a dominant presence at the Atlantic Coast Championships, the culmination of their fall seasons. With both the coed and women’s teams going through a rebuilding year, as they adjust to the absence of the large class of 2017 and to the growth of the large class of 2021, several sailors voiced optimism and determination as they move into the second half of their fall campaign.
“A lot of it is settling into new pairings and getting the boat handling down,” Klingler said. “We’re learning a lot very quickly, and we’ll be very competitive at the end of the season.”
The coed team will compete at the Moody Trophy and Storm Trysail Bigboat, and the women’s team will take on the Navy Fall Women’s Regatta next weekend.
Selena Cho | firstname.lastname@example.org