Three regattas spanning 10 June days will determine the 2005 ICSA team race, co-ed, and women’s North American champions—and with the No. 4 Harvard co-ed team’s performance in New England fleet race qualifiers this weekend, the Crimson will be staying at college sailing’s big dance from start to finish.
Harvard took adverse conditions in stride at the 64th Annual Coast Guard Alumni Bowl, held at Yale Saturday and Sunday, as it finished second in an 18-team field weighted with many of the nation’s best.
“We would have liked to have won, but it’s great to qualify,” sophomore skipper Clay Johnson said. “We were in first or second for most of the regatta, but our first objective was just ensuring that we were going to qualify. Nationals is all that really counts.”
With only the top four finishers at the New England qualifier advancing automatically to the national co-ed championships, competition was tight, and berths were at a premium. Squabbling over them were some of the nation’s best teams in a year in which no team was a clear favorite.
“It’s insane how close this regatta actually was,” Johnson said. “It’s just a testament to parity in New England. We have seven really good schools, and each school has two really good skippers.”
Brown won with 98 points, but less than 20 points separated the Bears from sixth-place MIT.
Yale finished third, with 108 points, while Dartmouth locked up the four-spot with 111.
Boston College barely missed qualifying, finishing a mere point behind the Big Green. The Eagles were actually ahead of the Bulldogs and Dartmouth going into the last set, but their A-division finished 12th in the final race to drop the team out of contention.
Conditions on the water of Long Island Sound tested Harvard’s mettle.
The first day’s wind gusted up to 25-knots, stalling racing until later in the afternoon. The stiff breeze persisted through Sunday. Furthermore, Yale supplied a complement of 420-class dinghies, while the Crimson generally practices in Flying Juniors.
“That was the windiest regatta I’ve ever been to, and it was 420s, and we were still first until the last set,” senior crew Laura Schubert said.
Harvard responded by swapping around its personnel, bumping its heavier skipper up to the A-division and deploying an unusual crew in freshman Kyle Kovacs, usually a skipper.
“We adapted pretty well. It was definitely a really unusual regatta because our regular fleet racing crews—[junior Ruth Schlitz] and [sophomore Kristen Lynch] didn’t sail all weekend,” Schubert said. “Luckily, we had that depth.”
The Crimson finished fourth in the A-division under skipper Clay Johnson and crews Schubert (races 1, 7-10) and sophomore Christina Dahlman (2-6). After abreakdown in the first race, the A-division won two but placed 10th in two more. Dartmouth dominated the division, as its sophomore duo won five of ten races for a total of 21 points. The Bulldogs and Brown tied for second with 51.
With junior captain Vince Porter at the helm and Kovacs (races 1-4) or Dahlman (5-10) crewing, Harvard took third in the B-division. One 16th-place finish threw off the B-division’s finish, as Porter and his crews finished in the top five seven times over the preceding two days.
The regatta was the final obstacle between the Crimson and nationals, which will be held in Austin, Tex., in Flying Juniors on a lake known for its light wind, an advantage for the small Harvard squad.
“We’re really excited that we qualified. If we had a couple of screw-ups, we would have been out,” Schubert said. “We’re really excited that we made all three. Watch out for us in Austin.”
—Staff writer Samuel C. Scott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.