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Harvard’s sailors are still reeling from the loss of half a dozen all-American-caliber sailors and have only logged a few weeks of practice time. For a squad that in recent history has finished consistently at the top, these first few weeks present a difficult training period.
But coaches hope that within a short period, the program’s historic dominance should return.
“We graduated a very large important class last year,” said Harvard coach Mike O’Connor, who has lead the sailing program since 1997.
“Our team is much younger and smaller right now, and we have a smaller group, and we don’t have the freshmen in the fold yet,” he added. “We have a lot of walk-ons and not many of them are cleared to compete yet. But we have two or three top notch freshmen, but the team is much smaller and younger.”
While the team is still feeling things out this early in the season, the team put on a good show at three regattas this weekend that were still very much warm-ups.
New Jersey native Kyle Kovacs, one of the top-notch freshmen O’Connor mentioned, helped the Crimson squad.
Despite having only one day of practice before this weekend’s Nevins Trophy at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Kovacs finished 10th in the laser C-division, beating 10 other sailors in the 20-boat field, which Boston College won for the first time.
Kovacs was part of a Harvard squad that finished eighth in simply atrocious conditions that cancelled the action on Saturday. The conditions were even worse on the day the teams did sail all of five races. Wind speeds reached 30 knots.
“We didn’t race Saturday, but Sunday was probably even breezier,” said junior Genny Tulloch, who skippered the B-division to a ninth-place finish.
“We haven’t practiced nearly enough. We weren’t ready for this weekend’s conditions—we haven’t sailed in heavy weather before. We won our regatta last weekend, but we were ready for that, because it was light air and 50 [degrees], and the past few weeks we’ve been practicing in light air because we haven’t had any breezy air. I feel like we’re ready for whatever comes our way, but we have more strength in light than heavy right now.”
The Crimson’s women’s squad headed to Dartmouth’s Mrs. Hurst Bowl and finished fifth, led by a strong performance from junior Sloan Devlin, who skippered the A-division to a fourth-place finish.
The weather was milder than the Nevins Trophy, if a bit wet.
Junior Jessica Baker skippered the B-division to a ninth-place mark. Freshman Emily Simon and senior Jenny Wong split the crew duties for Devlin and Baker. Brown took home first place.
A second Harvard co-ed contingent went over to Boston University for the Hatch Brown Regatta. Rain allowed for only eight races on Saturday, and a cool, sunny Sunday allowed eight more. Harvard’s squad finished 15th in an 18 team field won by Yale. Sophomore Matt Knowles skippered the A-division—with junior Mallory Griemann crew—to an 11th place finish, including one first-place finish. Sophomore skipper Kristen Lynch, along with classmate and crew Cassandra Niemi, finished 18th in the B-division.
—Staff writer Alexander C. Britell can be reached at email@example.com
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