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One can liken it to skating on a treadmill made of ice. Or playing basketball on an escalator. Or playing baseball on roller skates. Although a lack of wind was certainly problematic for the Harvard women’s sailing team this week, it was the biting currents of Cascade Locks, Ore. that caused them the most trouble.
You couldn’t have asked for a more picturesque place to do anything than the mountain-surrounded gorge hosting the North American Women’s Championships. But on a list of the best things to do there this week, sailing probably would not have been at the top. It was beautiful, but the breezeless waters and their strong currents were something of a beast.
“It’s a beautiful place to sail,” said star sophomore Genny Tulloch. “There are a ton of mountains all around—you can’t look around without seeing mountains.” But contrary to its reputation for strong winds, the gorge offered no breeze yesterday and spawned almost no races at all. All it could serve up was a rather irritating current.
“It’s been against all our expectations—we were ready for something else,” Tulloch said. “The gorge is known for being very windy, and our strong suit is strong winds.
“But we’re sailing on a river, so the water beneath you is moving, so all the time it’s moving against the wind.”
Tulloch was disqualified in one race on Wednesday because she was overearly—the currents actually pushed her past the starting point—by no fault of her own.
As of yesterday, the team stood in 12th place out of the 18 squads competing.
“The problem with how the racing went was yesterday was more on the fact that we’re still in finals, we had to fly here late, we’re pretty tired, and we weren’t quite on our game,” said Crimson coach Mike O’Connor. “Yesterday the conditions here in the gorge—the thing we’re not used to—is the current.”
Despite the somewhat unfortunate results, O’Connor says he won’t have a quick hook.
“Even though we had such a small number of races, even though we have not performed up to capability, we’re not going to make any drastic changes.”
With the team’s remarkable success this season, you can’t count them out of finishing with a bang—and rising to impressive results. But at that, it’ll be still be only a few days in a long, very accomplished season.
Tulloch was still optimistic.
“We have one day to redeem ourselves tomorrow.”
—Staff writer Alexander C. Britell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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