SEASON RECAP: Sailing Struggles with Consistency

The Harvard sailing team has experienced mixed results throughout this season. While one of its A-division boats may come away from a regatta pleased with its performance, its B-division counterpart may be somewhat disappointed with its less-than-impressive finish. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the women’s and co-ed squads find themselves in rather different positions and with fairly different mindsets entering the closing weeks of their seasons.

The women’s squad will compete in its final regatta of the spring, the Inter-collegiate Sailing Association Women’s National Championship held today and tomorrow in Madison, Wisc., after finding success throughout the regular season.

“The season has gone really well for us,” co-captain Liz Powers said. “While we had our fair share of challenges at the beginning of the year, we have followed a rigorous training regimen over the last few months that has allowed us to be consistent in finishing well at all of our regattas.”

Despite its small roster of only four sailors, the women’s team has been able to finish among the top five in the majority of its significant regattas. Powers, along with sophomores Emily Lambert, Marie Appel, and Alexandra Jumper—all four of whom were selected for the All-New England Team—now find themselves ranked fourth in the country entering the final competition of the year.

“The goal entering the national championships is always to win,” Powers said. “We have been training with Boston College, who is ranked No. 1 in the nation, over the past week, so we feel if both our A- and B-division boats sail well, we can compete with anyone.”

On the other hand, for a team that is used to finding success on both the regional and national levels, the fact that the Harvard co-ed squad, after somewhat of a mediocre regular season, was only able to qualify for one of two national championship regattas has come as somewhat of a disappointment for the team.

Although it will travel to Madison next week to close out its season at the ICSA/Gill Dinghy National Championship from June 1-3, the co-ed squad finds itself not as busy as usual during this time of year.

“We were able to qualify for the fleet-racing national championship, which is always a goal of ours,” junior co-captain Alan Palmer said. “It was a little disappointing that we were not able to make the team race national championship regatta, but if we had to choose between the fleet- and team-racing contests, we would always choose the fleet-racing contest. It is a bigger affair and one which we focus on throughout the season.”

Entering the national competition with the goal of improving upon its 10th-place efforts of the past two years, the Crimson co-eds finally hope to be able to put everything together for the first time all season.

“We have been pretty up-and-down with the regattas we have competed in throughout the year,” Palmer said. “Both divisions have not been able to finish well on the same weekend yet, or we haven’t been able to sail well for two whole days of competition. Therefore, while we are definitely content with how our season has gone, we have not exceeded our expectations.”

This marginal lack of success throughout the year is not dampening the co-ed squad’s goals entering its final regatta of the season.

“We are hoping to finally have that breakthrough performance at the national championship regatta. We think we can come away with a top-five finish if things go right for us,” Palmer said.

The Harvard co-eds also hope to finish well at the national competition in order to build off a strong performance heading into next year.

“We only lose two people to graduation,” Palmer said. “While there are not as many seniors as usual throughout our entire conference right now, I think we will not be hurt by graduation as much as other teams, because all three of our top skippers return next year.”

Meanwhile, although the women’s team loses its team leader in Powers next year, the squad plans to welcome two skipper recruits to the roster next season to go along with this season’s three second-year contributors.

“Outside of me graduating, we have a young team,” Powers said, “So I think we will be able to continue our success next year.”

So while the women’s and co-ed squads enter the championship portion of their respective seasons with different goals, they both hope to find themselves atop the New England and national collegiate sailing scenes next year. Perhaps for the first time in a while, the two teams’ results will match up.

—Staff writer Thomas D. Hutchison can be reached at