The Yale coed and women’s sailing teams both kick off the 2018–19 season this weekend, following an eighth-place finish in the women’s national championship and a pair of seventh-place finishes in the coed and team national championships.
This weekend’s major regatta is the Harry Anderson Trophy, hosted in New Haven. Yale will have the privilege of fielding two teams for the event, one coed and one women-only. Women’s sailing will also travel to MIT for the Toni Deutsch Trophy, while the coed team will send additional teams to the Pine Trophy at the Coast Guard Academy and the Mt. Hope Bay Regatta at Roger Williams.
The Elis welcome a new crop of talented sailors this year, with nine first years joining their ranks. This weekend’s races will be their first tests as they adapt to collegiate-style racing.
“As a first year, I’m always trying to improve as quickly as possible, and this won’t change over the weekend when I sail at Roger Williams,” Sam Tobin ’22 said. “The competition will be much tougher than I’ve seen before, and however hopeful I may be about my performance, I’m trying to manage my expectations as best I can. I can’t wait to adapt to a higher level of sailing and earn my place on the team.”
Yale also returns five of seven sailors who were awarded all-conference honors at last year’s New England Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association Championship: Nic Baird ’19, Shawn Harvey ’21, Graceann Nicolosi ’20, Sonia Lingos-Utley ’21 and Kira Woods ’19. In addition, Baird was a finalist for the NEISA skipper of the year award.
This season, the Elis will face the uncertainties brought by a new and unfamiliar competition schedule format. In previous years, every weekend featured a major interconference event, bringing together not only the best teams in the NEISA but also major contenders from across the nation. The new format stipulates that the first three events of the year are in-conference only; as a result, the Bulldogs will face a different field this weekend than they would have in previous years’ opening weekends.
“With the new format, we actually aren’t sure what to expect at all for [the regattas this weekend],” Baird said. “We hope we do well and hope that they give us insights on what to work on as the season progresses.”
Moreover, the competition season in previous years was structured such that qualifiers for the national championships were spread throughout the season, which culminated in the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship. This year, the ACC championship has been replaced by the National Showcase Final, which will take place in the middle of the season. The season will conclude with the NEISA conference championship.
The new format could give weaker teams the chance to gain experience through competing at in-conference events early in the season. There will also be added emphasis on the National Showcase Final and semifinals, which will offer the best glimpses into where Yale stands compared to teams across the country.
In order to qualify and prove that last year’s hiccup was just a blip after a run of four consecutive top-three finishes at the coed national championship, the Bulldogs need to focus on securing positive results in their initial regattas.
“I’m really excited for the racing and sailing-filled weekends to start,” Mina Chanakira ’21 said. “This weekend will be particularly important for our first years, who all came from different sailing backgrounds and will have their first weekends of college sailing.”
Yale placed second in a field of 16 at the 2017 Harry Anderson Trophy.
Raymond Gao | email@example.com