Yale Daily News

After being unable to compete last year — and with limited opportunities to train on the water — the Yale sailing program is set to start the new school year with three tournaments this weekend.

In fall 2019, the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association, or ICSA, ranked Yale’s women’s and coed sailing teams second and fifth in the country, respectively. While the official fall 2021 rankings have not yet been released, Yale sailing head coach Zachary Leonard ’89 said the team’s practices have been “really strong” so far.

“If we can keep this level of focus and effort and have fun doing it, then I think we will improve a lot,” Leonard wrote in an email to the News. “That is our goal. If we can keep improving we should be happy with the results.”

This weekend, Yale is racing at the Toni Deutsch Regatta hosted by MIT and the Pine Trophy hosted by Coast Guard and is simultaneously hosting the Harry Anderson Trophy at its own McNay Family Center. In 2019, Yale placed fifth at the Pine and second at Harry Anderson.

This fall, Yale sailing welcomed more than 10 members of the class of 2025 to the program. These rookies make up almost half of the team’s roster. Leonard believes the veteran sailors on the team will give the first years the guidance they need ahead of their first collegiate competitions.

“We have great captains and senior leaders who have been a part of our team for several years and will be good mentors for our newer team members,” he told the News.

Although the team looks green on paper, the sailing class of 2025 has merits of its own to boast about. Across the group of new student-athletes, sailors competed in six high school championships and have experience in keel boat sailing, dinghy and high-performance boats.

Twins Carmen Cowles ’25 and Emma Cowles ’25 are both joining the team this year after impressive showings in their youth careers. As a duo, they won the 2016 I-420 National Championship, as well as both the 2017 and 2018 420 Girls World Sailing Youth World Championship. Their prowess in 2018 helped them win the U.S. Sailing Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, the first time the award was given to a pair since 2004.

The sisters explained that they were planning on taking only one gap year between high school and Yale, but they decided to take a second year off due to the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics.

“Together as a team, we competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials in Sailing for the Women’s 470 boat class,” they said in a joint statement to the News. “We finished second at the trials, and only the top team qualifies for the Games.”

Yale also starts the school year with a new member — and former Yale sailor — on the coaching staff. Over the summer, Thomas Barrows III ’10 joined the program as assistant coach. During his time as an undergraduate student at Yale, he was a two-time captain and four-time All-American. In 2010, Barrows won both the ICSA College Sailor of the Year Award and the Neely Mallory Award, the most prestigious honor given to a senior male student-athlete at Yale. Barrows is the first — and only — sailor to win the award.

Like the Cowles twins, Barrows has also been involved with sailing on the national stage. As an undergraduate, he sailed for his native U.S. Virgin Islands at the 2008 Beijing Games and again for the United States in Rio. He went on to coach the U.S. team, including Stuart McNay ’05, for the Tokyo Olympics.

“I couldn’t be happier that Thomas is coming home to Yale sailing to coach with us,” associate head coach Bill Healy told Yale Athletics. Both Leonard and Healy were on the coaching staff when Barrows sailed for Yale.

Yale’s last competition was the Rudkin Team Race Regatta hosted by Roger Williams on March 7 and 8, 2020. The Bulldogs placed seventh.

Melanie Heller currently serves as the Sports Editor for the Yale Daily News. She previously reported on women's hockey. Originally from Potomac, MD, she is a senior in Silliman College double majoring in Economics and Humanities.