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The men's varsity sailing season came to an unexpected finish yesterday. The Crimson skippers fell four points shy of qualifying for the North American collegiate championships, sailing to a heartbreaking fourth-place finish in the New England regional regatta down at the Coast Guard Academy.
The men were breezing along is second place after Saturday's races, looking forward to the championship invitations that awaited the top three finishers in the weekend event. But on Sunday the wind blew the wrong way for the Crimson, and Yale and Tufts eased ahead of Harvard to earn berths in next month's finals along with the first-place University of Rhode Island squad.
Coach Michael Horn blamed the loss, which spelled a sudden end to the season that began with several promising early-season victories, on "a series of misfortunes." Horn said the most damaging blow to the Crimson's chances came midway through the meet, when skippers Terry Neff and Tom Reps had to switch from sailing International Twelves to less familiar Flying Juniors.
"Terry and Tom were virtually unbeatable in the International Twelves, but they really had their problems in the Juniors," he said. The Harvard skippers dropped below fifth place only once, when they were cruising along in the International twelves, but after the switch they could ifnish above the half-way mark in the ten-team fleet only once.
Neff, a senior who closed out his Harvard career with yesterday's races, called the meet "a very close series that just turned out the wrong way." Looking ahead to the championships in June, Neff picked URI as the team to beat.
"If they sail at all like the way they did this weekend, they're going to be awfully tough," he said.
The weekend also brought a pair of tough meets for the Radcliffe sailors who spent Saturday garnering third in the Powder Puff Trophy regatta at URI before journeying up to a fifth-place finish in a Sunday invitational at Tufts.
The Powder Puff was not pushover, as flukish winds limited the action to the three-race minimum. The 'Cliffe sailors did well, but not well enough, placing behind URI and MIT in the eight-team fleet.
The team wasn't quite that lucky on Sunday, breezing in fifth at Mystic Lake in a meet that B.U. managed to snatch from the always-powerful host team from Tufts. Despite the efforts of captain Laura Brown, who was low-point skipper in Division B, the team couldn't bring its Larks home to victory.
The women will look to better their record next weekend, heading off to the New England championships with hopes of capturing a spot in the women's finals next June.
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