Sailing Just Misses ACCs

Consistency was the name of the game this weekend for Harvard’s co-ed sailing team, as the men and women finished among the top five in three regattas, but narrowly missed qualifying for the Atlantic Coast Championships.

A busy weekend began Saturday with the Danmark Trophy regatta in New London, Conn., where the team sailed four morning and eight afternoon races. Juniors skipper Clay Johnson and crew Kristen Lynch won the B-division, a performance which helped offset a slow first day for the rest of the team. The Crimson finished the first day in seventh place, but bounced back on Sunday morning thanks in part to one of four second-place finishes from Johnson and Lynch.

“I think some people were disappointed because we missed qualifying for ACCs by three points,” co-captain Sloan Devlin said. “There were highs and lows.”

Although Johnson and Lynch failed to win a race all weekend, twelve top five finishes in 18 races proved to be the key to a win in the B-division.

“We were at a really hard place to sail, with a lot of current and some really hard winds, but we stayed pretty consistent, so it was exciting,” said Johnson. “We wanted to finish higher, but everyone has their ups and downs, and if fifth place is our down, that’s pretty good.”

A light northerly wind blew threw the course, eventually dying down in favor of a southerly for the day’s later races. The Crimson made up ground to earn a fifth-place finish in the event, totaling 273 points, just 21 behind winner Boston College. Hawaii finished in a close second place, followed by Dartmouth and Brown.

The A-division saw strong performances from sophomores skipper Kyle Kovacs and crew Elyse Dolbec on Sunday, after senior Vincent Porter skippered and Ruth Schlitz crewed the division the day before. Kovacs and Dolbec won a race in guiding Harvard to a ninth-place A-division finish and 159 total points.

“I think our coach was trying out things. It’s earlier in the year and we have lots of capable skippers on the team, and I think the idea was to give Kyle experience sailing in a really good intersectional, and there’s usually good competition at Danmark,” Devlin said.


Clear skies on Saturday at Boston College for the Metro Series 4 helped Harvard toward 77 points and a fourth place finish, just five points ahead of fifth-place Bowdoin. The A-division tandem of juniors skipper Matthew Knowles and crew Marion Guillaume earned 38 points, while juniors Robby McIntosh and Ashley Nathanson notched 39 for the B division. The A-division’s six total races yielded a sixth place finish, while the B-division ended in seventh. The host Eagles were again the winners, picking up just 45 points on the day. Sailing two teams in the event, Boston College also took eighth place in the contest. Brown and Dartmouth finished second and third, respectively.

Team Race Series 3

The Eagles also played host to the Team Race Series 3 event Saturday, where wind was light for most of the day before dying out completely during the afternoon, forcing the race’s first series results to stand as final. Harvard’s record for the event was 2-3, good enough for fourth place in the six-team field. Tufts’ 5-0 record earned them the win, while Brown and Boston College followed.

This weekend, the Crimson will travel to Dartmouth to try to claim an Ivy League championship—although the honor is not as important in sailing as in more terrestrial sports.

“We’re going to be in lots of different places,” Devlin said. The team will also be sailing at the Hap Moore team race at the Coast Guard Academy, where Devlin, junior Matt Knowles and freshman Andrew Flynn will be skippering.

“It’s really honestly not one of our top regattas. We’re obviously looking to do well at it and [senior skipper] Jess [Baker] and [freshman skipper] Roberta [Steele] really have a shot at doing well, but it doesn’t carry nearly the same weight as our national championships do or our regional qualifiers do,” Devlin said. “It’s kind of the coaches decisions who to send where...oftentimes they don’t send their best people to the Ivy League championships.”

Harvard will also send skippers to the New England men’s singlehanded championships at the same time, forcing the team to send some of their less experienced sailors to compete for the league title. They’re nevertheless confident in their sailors as they sail against some of the best New England has to offer.

“We have a lot of depth this year, and about 5 or 6 skippers that we can put anywhere and know they’ll do well,” said Johnson.

The Crimson also plans to try again for a spot at the Atlantic Coast Championship later in the fall—the top three teams from New England make it to the elite event, and Harvard missed qualifying by a mere three points this weekend. They will have another chance to qualify later in October during an event at MIT.

“I’m confident we’ll bring home the bacon,” Johnson said.