The Radcliffe sailing team ghosted its way to a third-place finish at the womens' national sailing championship, held in the light winds of Newport Harbor, Cal., last week.
But Radcliffe skipper Marie Roehm, with crew Sarah Herrick, sailed away with individual honors in the 'B' Division, after a tie-breaking procedure elevated her above a Princeton boat.
The Radcliffe boats lost the team title to crews from Princeton and the University of California at San Diego, both of whom had experience sailing the local waters.
In the 'A' Division, Kathy Angell, skipper, and Pam Mack drove their Lido 14 to a sixth-place finish. Disqualification in one race hurt the crew's individual chances, although it didn't much affect the team standings.
The Princeton duo of Nina Nielsen and Marilee Allan moved into an insurmountable lead after the first day, Thursday, and finished with 75 points. UCal at San Diego chalked up 86 under the low-score-wins system, and Radcliffe followed with 99 points in the 10-team field.
The first two days of the 20-race, three-day regatta were sailed in three to five knot winds, which gave a large advantage to sailors with local knowledge. Both of Princeton's two skippers hail from the Newport Beach area and, indeed, the regatta headquarters was established on the lawn of one of the Princeton women's home.
Sailing coach Mike Horn said the light air conditions made the adjustment to unfamiliar boats and unfamiliar waters more difficult, because sailing in fluky winds places a premium on knowing where to find wind and less emphasis on the crews' boathandling abilities.
On the third day, when winds increased to 8 to 10 knots, crews from New England, including Radcliffe, finished much better than they had on the previous two days, Horn said.
"If we had the wind we had on the third day for all three days, we very well might have won," Horn said yesterday.
The Radcliffe team won six out of seven major events this season before the championship, finishing second only to B.U. in one regatta. The team finished second in last year's nationals.
Harvard-Radcliffe and UCal at Irvine were the only two schools in the country to qualify for both the men's and women's championship. The men's event gets underway today on the waters of Boston Harbor.
The Harvard men also had a successful season, winning five major trophies, and placing in almost all of their events. The team sailed away with both the Greater Boston and Atlantic Coast Championship.
The Crimson is ranked fourth at the North American Championships, behind Tulane, UCal San Diego, and UCal Irvine and just ahead of New England champion Coast Guard. Tulane won the event last year while Harvard failed to qualify.
Harvard skippers Terry Neff and Chris Middendorf, who both learned their sailing on the waters of Cold Spring Harbor, New York, will be sailing familiar boats. Eight races will be sailed in Harvard's Interclub dinghies and another eight in Larks from MIT and BU.