"I guess we were suffering from fear of success."
Pam Mack was leading the Radcliffe sailing team to its eighth straight Sloop Shrew Trophy last Sunday afternoon on the Charles, when she and her teammates came down with a case of McClelland's Syndrome.
"Oooh, it was sad," Mack said of the two-day, round robin regatta hosted every year by Radcliffe. "We were leading all the way, until the last two races."
Radcliffe held a five-point lead over MIT going into the final races into the two divisions, and seemed a sure bet to repeat its past successes in the regatta. "But," as coach Mike Horn commented, "all streaks have to end sometime."
Radcliffe's streak ended rather dramatically in the blustery winds. Mack capsized in her last race, and though she and crew Laura Brown managed to bail out the boat and finish the race 20 minutes behind the rest of the fleet, MIT cut the lead to two points.
Then it was Sarah Herrick's turn. In the final B division race, Herrick was second to the Engineer boat at the leeward mark. "It looked like everything was okay," Horn explained, "because Sarah was right with MIT. We would have won the regatta even if she finished second or third."
But Herrick swamped rounding the mark, and while she and crew Cassie Levitt were trying to get the water out of the Interclub dinghy, they slipped to fifth place. MIT won the race and the trophy by a slim two points.
The strong winds bothered Radcliffe all weekend, and caused cancellation of several races on Saturday. In one gust, an empty boat without its sail up got loose from the dock and capsized in a puff.
Mack's only consolation during the wet weekend was beating MIT's Barbara Belt for low point skipper honors in A division. Meredith O'Donnell of third-place URI won the award for B division.
The regatta closed out Radcliffe's regular season, with just the nationals to be sailed May 31-June 1.