Despite not having practiced since 2018 due to Connecticut’s frigid weather conditions, Yale’s top-ranked coed sailing team made a splash in its second week of spring racing by claiming first place at the Bob Bavier Regatta in Charleston, S.C. Two other cohorts of Elis also competed this weekend at the Sharp Trophy and Hap Moore Team Race.
After ending the fall season ranked ICSA No. 1, the Bulldogs continued to assert their dominance in Charleston as they crossed the finish line before No. 5 Stanford, even though the Cardinal had been able to practice in the weeks leading up to the competition. The Bulldogs’ resounding victory came in spite of several team members contracting serious illnesses and the absence of last year’s NEISA crew of the year Graceann Nicolosi ’20 due to a concussion.
“There’s so much room for improvement right now,” first-team member Claudia Loiacono ’21 said. “Our boat handling is not what it was in the fall, but that’s pretty normal, with practice it should go away. It’s reassuring that we started off so well, considering both Charleston and Stanford have been practicing much longer than we have.”
Shawn Harvey ’21 added that despite sleep deprivation from a 6:45 a.m. Friday flight to the regatta, the team practiced later that day with Charleston and managed to go undefeated for the entirety of Sunday. Last year, the Elis competed for the same trophy, losing only a single race on Sunday to emerge with a third-place finish.
Yale’s second team competed at Brown for the Sharpe Trophy, while the third team raced at the Coast Guard Academy. Though the second team faced tough weather conditions, its members managed to outstrip No. 8 Harvard and No. 13 MIT but still suffered close losses to No. 7 Dartmouth and No. 10 Bowdoin. The third squad raced in the Hap Moore team event, and managed to turn the tables on Rhode Island for their first team victory.
“Our team is definitely off to a great start,” second-team member Kira Woods ’19 said. “We were one of the less practiced teams at the regatta this past weekend and we were able to solidly perform.”
The Elis usually practice in Branford, which features a bay that opens out into the Long Island Sound. According to Nick Hernandez ’19, the team’s practice location allows them to train in a large variation of weather conditions and therefore prepare for a wide range of scenarios. Hernandez added that while physically smaller teams like MIT might prefer light winds, Yale’s training venue allows the Elis to be “pretty good in most conditions.”
Next week, the Elis will fly to St. Petersburg, Florida, for their annual spring break training trip. According to multiple members of the team, the trip helps Yale make up for time lost to the Connecticut climate and several team alumni will help with training, including some who are former national champions and college sailors of the year.
“Being able to beat other top teams in the country like Stanford and Charleston puts us in a really good place for the rest of the season since we have so much more to work on,” Harvey said.
The coed team will compete again this upcoming weekend at the Rudkin Team Race Promotional at Eckerd College. At the same time, the women’s team will begin its season at Navy.
Valerie Pavilonis | email@example.com