But freshmen Emily Lambert and Annie DeAngelo make it look easy. Besides settling into their new rooms in the Yard, they also fit right in with the Harvard women’s sailing team.
In their first month in Cambridge, the dynamic duo has already made a splash. As a pair, they took home the top prize in their division in two of their first three collegiate regattas.
Lambert and DeAngelo both brought plenty of experience to the Crimson when they arrived for preseason.
Lambert, a native of Cumberland, Maine, has been sailing since the age of nine. “My dad kind of forced me because he loves to sail, and I hated it at first,” she said. “But now I love it.”
DeAngelo didn’t start competing until she was a freshman in high school in Greenwich, Conn.. But the pair has made the adjustment to the high level of competition with remarkable ease.
“They’ve been a wonderful addition to the team. On the water they have been really fast and efficient,” senior captain Megan Watson said. “They’re both great, enthusiastic girls…we’re really very happy with them.”
“The team has been really helpful, and I think that the fact that we have such competitive practices has made going into regattas easier and less of a shock,” DeAngelo said.
DeAngelo has faced the extra challenge of slipping into the role of crew after sailing as a skipper in high school.
“We weren’t sure how quickly Annie would adjust to crewing,” Watson says. “She picked it up very fast, so that was definitely a nice surprise.”
A major factor in DeAngelo’s success in her new role is undoubtedly the relationship she and her classmate share in the boat. The rookies have been sailing as a pair since preseason.
“We talk to each other a lot. We ask each other questions and discuss what we think the wind’s doing, which is really good because that means you have two pairs of eyes looking at all the conditions,” Lambert said.
“Timing and communication are our two biggest strengths,” DeAngelo agreed. “It’s fun, we have a good time with it, and I think that makes a big difference because we sail better when we’re having a good time out there.”
They certainly seem to be having a lot of fun, as the women have been a dominating pair in the B-division. They claimed first place in the Women’s Man-Labs Trophy and the Mrs. Hurst Bowl, the latter victory earning them a nod as NEISA Sailors of the Week.
But as good as the freshmen are together, it’s their flexibility that has proven most valuable to the team so far this season.
When junior skipper Liz Powers suffered an MCL injury that will keep her out of competition for a few more weeks, Lambert and DeAngelo were both asked to step up in a big way.
DeAngelo has started to practice as a skipper again, and led the B-division boat to a tenth-place finish at the Regis Trophy this past weekend.
“Annie has really stepped up,” Watson said. “It’s been crew crew crew and now she’s back to being a skipper. She’s been more than enthusiastic about it.”
“It was fun to be in the back of the boat again. It was a little rocky…but I had fun with it,” DeAngelo added.
She’ll be back at it again this weekend, when the women’s team competes in the Navy Women’s Intersectional. In the three-division event, Watson, Lambert and DeAngelo will each be skippering a boat.
Meanwhile, Lambert was asked to skipper the A-division boat in just her fourth weekend of collegiate racing.
“It was kind of a rough weekend,” she said. “I’m not sure if it’s because of the competition in A-division, or just that I wasn’t sailing very well.”
But her captain has a great deal of confidence in the freshman’s abilities.
“We knew [Emily] would have an impact, that she’d be good,” Watson said. “The first week of preseason, she started winning races in practice, and beating us in drills. We thought, ‘Wow, she’s going to be really good.’”
The most exciting thing about this impressive pair is how much untapped potential they still have.
“Their season thus far has been light winds, so the handling techniques are really important,” Watson said. “That’s something they will improve more on. They haven’t had enough time in the boat sailing together. The fact that they have performed so well without a lot of practice – that’s really exciting.”
Lambert and DeAngelo agree.
“I have a lot of work to still go, but so far I’ve been learning a lot…kind of getting my butt kicked, but improving, definitely,” Lambert said.
“[I’m looking forward to] just becoming a better sailor,” DeAngelo added. “Improving my boat speed, improving my boat handling, learning how to sail at different venues.”
With such a determined and talented pair of rookies, it looks like the Harvard women will have smooth sailing for years to come.
—Staff writer Kate Leist can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.