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The weather could not have been more different from day to day this weekend as top-ranked Harvard coed sailing team proved that it dominates the water, rain or shine.
The Crimson managed to win the White Trophy at the New England Sloop Championships—therefore qualifying for North American Sloops—as well as secure an Ivy title and take a third-place finish at the Hap Moore Team Race over the weekend.
The New England Sloop Championships took place in Winthrop, Mass., with Harvard entering the team of sophomore skipper Vince Porter and senior John Mulcahy as his crew. And as anyone in Massachussetts knows, the weather between the days could not have been more disparate. Saturday was sunny with temperatures in the mid-60’s as three of the weekend’s five races took place in an 8-12 knot northeasterly wind. However, the Crimson made a much stronger showing once the weather turned rainy and windy on Sunday, proving that Porter and Mulcahy are capable sailors in any conditions.
In 20 knot winds and torrential rain, Porter and Mulcahy finished first in both their races, bettering their 5-2-1 places of Saturday’s events. That performance earned the team first place in the field of 12—capturing the White Trophy. The top two spots also secured a spot at North American Sloop Championships in November, meaning Harvard will be joined by Dartmouth at North American Championships.
Going into the competition, Porter and Mulcahy were confident, but their first-place finish this weekend was still a bit of a surprise.
“My success at this regatta was honestly a big shock to me,” Porter said. “I had only sailed a Starboat a few times in my life.”
Yet the Crimson’s pair thrived in an unaccustomed spot behind the rudder of a 20 foot-long Starboat, handling the unfamiliar boat (Harvard’s typical fleet includes 420’s and FJ’s, both smaller than a Starboat) well amidst the stormy conditions.
In the first race on Sunday, the Crimson was winning at every mark. Mulcahy and Porter, as a lighter pairing than many of their competitors, had a bit of trouble in the high winds, but compensated by hiking harder in the big breeze.
“The downwind legs were also really fun, we were hauling,” Porter said. “It was a great feeling to be flying downwind, in the pouring rain, with about 20 knots of breeze, and looking back to see how big your lead is.”
Success was not confined to Winthrop alone, as Harvard captured the Ivy title at home, edging out a tight win as the Crimson scored 156 points to Darmouth’s 160. Sophomores Sloan Devlin and Mallory Griemann led the Crimson with their third-place finish, as seniors Jenny Philbrick and Emily Nielson landed in sixth place. Harvard’s combined high finishes, thanks to the team’s depth, enabled the Crimson to seize the Ivy crown.
Meanwhile several other members of the sailing squad were at the Coast Guard Academy competing in the Hap Moore Team Race. Led by sophomore Genny Tulloch, freshman Clay Johnson and captain Cardwell Potts, the Crimson earned third place, but was only one victory away from winning the event. The team racing event is challenging format where all teams have three boats and the squad with a better combination of finishes wins. In such a setting, strategy—across all three team boats—is of the utmost importance.
“Our goal for the weekend was to gain experience and learn a lot about the art of team racing,” said Potts. “I was very pleased with our performance.”
Next weekend the Crimson will compete in the Navy Fall Intersectional at the Naval Academy. This will enable the sailors to experience cross-district competition. The team will race four boats in a four-division regatta—two one-person and two two-person boats.
“I’m especially confident about our team, especially in a four-division regatta,” Potts said. “We are very deep. Other teams might have one or two good people, but not as many people who can finish as high as ours.”
On Nov. 15-16, Harvard will send a boat to SUNY Maritime North American Sloop Championships, which Porter and Mulcahy qualified for this weekend. Potts will be picked up for the three-person competition and Porter might not be able to compete due to Olympic Trials in Texas. Yet the Crimson’s depth will enable it to provide a strong showing no matter who ends up in the boat.
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