The Harvard sailing team was on the water before all but a handful of students were back in Cambridge, hauling in a few top finishes as their classmates hauled boxes into newly opened dorm rooms.
As the Crimson sets course for another Fowle Trophy, it is borne on a tide of tradition—the award given to the overall best team in college sailing has been taken back to Cambridge by Coach Mike O’Connor’s teams for each of the last five years.
Harvard begins a new season on the water with high rankings—No. 4 for the coed squad, and No. 5 for the defending national champion women—as well as a little new help as it looks to replace All-Americans skipper Genny Tulloch ’05 and crew Laura Schubert ’05.
Three freshmen—Roberta Steele, Megan Watson, and Andrew Flynn—are expected to pump new blood into the program.
Steele and Watson will likely sail next weekend in a women’s intersectional, the Mrs. Hurst Women’s at Dartmouth.
Filling out the team’s roster, which is generally largely constituted of walk-ons, however, will take a little extra time, as the team is still recruiting freshmen, especially as crews.
Upperclassmen spent a week sailing at Falmouth before coming to Cambridge for preseason, sailing without the distraction of academics. The extra preparation has perhaps helped, as the Crimson delivered a series of respectable finishes.
“[Regatta results] speak very well to our preparation for the week and a half leading up to events,” Devlin said. “We can focus exclusively on sailing when other teams have school, and that may have something to do with it.”
Some skippers are also taking time to sail solo in preparation for New England singlehanded qualifiers, to be held for women Sept. 24-25 and men in October.
Last year, the team boasted second- and fourth-place finishes at singlehanded nationals in both men’s and women’s races. The team is also preparing for sloop qualifiers, sailed in larger, four-hand boats.
CAPTAIN HURST AT DARTMOUTH
Wind conditions proved less than favorable as the team traveled inland this weekend, where the Captain Hurst regatta lasted only six Saturday races before being scrapped early.
“Regattas at this time of year are challenging because sometimes the breezes are pretty light,” Devlin said. “It’s a particular skill and we’ve gotten very good at it.”
Harvard did not have time to rally from behind against Yale, which won the regatta. Sophomore Kyle Kovacs skippered with Schlitz at crew in the A-division, which finished second. Devlin and junior crew Christina Dahlman finished sixth in the B-division.
Yale closed the regatta dominantly in both divisions, combining for four second-places in the last six races.
“Vince and I sailed in the first [regatta] and got first, and two completely different people, Kyle and Sloan, sailed in the second and got second,” Johnson said. “It says something about the depth of our team.”
TEAM RACE SERIES 1 AT HARVARD
While fleet racing dominates the fall season, the Crimson still took the time to give some its sailors experience with team racing this weekend. Harvard finished third with a 2-2 record in the Team Race Series 1 on home waters, in a round-robin tournament held in characteristically Charles-esque shifty winds.
HARRY ANDERSON AT YALE
Neither division won at the Harry Anderson regatta, but they combined for a first-place team finish to open the fall season.
“A lot of teams are rusty and haven’t had as much practice. We’ve had as much practice as anyone else,” Johnson said. “We’ve won our first regatta, and that makes a clear statement that we’re in line to have a great season.”
Tricky winds added an edge of difficulty to a beautiful autumn day, as juniors Clay Johnson and Kristen Lynch took third in the A-division.
Seniors skipper Vincent Porter and crew Ruth Schlitz proved a model of consistency, with seven of ten finishes in the top five for second in the B-division.
“I was very excited with it. We sailed consistently, and we didn’t really fold under pressure,” Johnson said. “We were second in the last day and second in the last set, but Vincent came through and had a really clutch set.”
WOMEN’S MAN LABS
REGATTA AT MIT 9/10
The women of Harvard Sailing finished a mere point behind second-place Yale in the Man Labs Regatta, held in Flying Juniors and Tech dinghies on the Lower Basin of the Charles River on Saturday.
Three was the magic number for the day, as third-place division finishes led to a third place team finish in a 10-team field.
Junior Jessica Baker and Lynch sailed in the A-division, and sophomore Elyse Dolbec and junior Cassandra Niemi navigated their dinghy in the B-division.
—Staff writer Samuel C. Scott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.