Returning to the water for the first time since November, the Yale coed sailing team battled weather and wind to finish third in the Bob Bavier Team Race in Charleston, South Carolina.
As a nor’easter rocked much of New England last weekend, the Elis escape to the south just in time, as teams like Harvard were unable to travel due to flight cancellations. In the thinned field, the Bulldogs took the opportunity to shake off some rust and kick off the spring with a third-place finish and 14–5 record in the Bob Bavier Team Race. The team trailed winner Roger Williams University and runner-up College of Charleston by only one race.
“It’s early season, we’re not worried about places right now,” Nic Baird ’19 said. “Two years ago, we barely placed fourth and ended up winning nationals. This event is about learning and finding out where we’re at, so we can get the most out of our spring break training … We learned a lot on the water just by sailing, but not really anything by winning or losing races.”
Like other team races, the course was a digital N, referring to the N-shape of the route the boats traverse. Race organizers delayed the start of racing on Saturday due to high wind, with a consistent 25 knots blowing. When racing began at 1:30 p.m., the breeze had dropped to 10–15 knots, although speeds increased slightly to 12–18 knots later in the afternoon.
Despite the difficult weather conditions on the water, skippers Nick Hernandez ’19, Shawn Harvey ’21, Baird and Malcolm Lamphere ’18 dealt with the trying circumstances well. Crews Graceann Nicolosi ’20, KB Knapp ’18 and Sonia Lingos-Utley ’21 hiked hard throughout the weekend to keep the boats level, and Baird even took a shift as crew to counter the strength of the wind.
While they accrued most of their losses in this first day of competition, the Elis rebounded strongly on Sunday. Nearly catching the Hawks, who entered the day undefeated, the Bulldogs glided through the water on the back of a comfortable 8–15 knot zephyr. A shifty breeze tested Yale and its competitors’ chops, but when the ripples subsided, Roger Williams remained on top, beating the Cougars in head to head.
“[I’m] really excited with the way we sailed, lots of big picture things done correctly,” Hernandez said. “This past weekend, we showed that we can learn quickly and work well together to improve. Right now we are focused on improving our process, and not worried at all about results. Results will come later in the season when it counts.”
At the end of the fall season, Sailing World Magazine ranked Yale third in the nation, and while a win in Charleston would have been preferable, the implications for the rest of the season are minimal. With spring break quickly approaching, the Bulldogs now have the opportunity to sharpen their skills and refine their strategy ahead of their next outing.
Yale returns to action in the Rudkin Team Race Promotional on March 10.
Caleb Rhodes | firstname.lastname@example.org