Harvard Sailing Qualifies for National Semifinals

The Harvard sailing team competed in three regattas on Saturday and Sunday. It brought home a regional championship in the New England Dinghy Championship, placed third out of eight schools in the Savin Hill Invitational, and 10th of 18 in the 72nd Oberg Trophy.


The Crimson snagged the New England Championship this weekend, as it sailed to a first place victory over the best teams in the region. The victory qualified the team for the national semifinals, which will be held at Navy next month.

Harvard needed to place in the top eight of the field of 18 to make it to the semifinals. After the first day of the two-day regatta, Harvard was in third, with only a small margin separating the top 10 teams.

“On Sunday morning, we were basically still just hoping to qualify,” said senior Emily Lambert, who skippered the B division boat.

But on Sunday, as the Crimson ranked among the top five in more than half of the second day’s races, it became clear that they were going to clinch a spot in the semifinals, and the team started to look toward the possibility of winning the championship.

“At the end, the points got pretty close,” Lambert said. “But we were able to hold on until the end and walk away with the victory.”

Harvard led much of the early part of the regatta, as the A and B boats finished third and second in the first round, respectively, but dropped to second behind Dartmouth after the B division’s 11th place finish in the second round. Harvard quickly came back, with A and B boats finishing second and third, respectively, in the next round to regain the lead. It held onto first place and went into the sixth round with 51 points—eight ahead of eventual fifth place finishers Boston College—but then hit a rough patch.

The Crimson dropped as low as eighth in the rankings after a series of weak performances in the next four races, including a last-place finish for the B division, but quickly followed it up as, in the last three races of the day, the top boat came in third, seventh, and fifth, while the B boat finished in fifth, second, and tenth.

In the 14th round, the A division team grabbed a second-place finish, as the B boat topped that division, landing Harvard back in first place.

From then on, it was the Crimson’s regatta to lose. And though Roger Williams did pull within five points after the 16th race, Harvard did not again cede the lead.

The A boat came in fourth, four points ahead of the team from MIT, while the B division team earned sixth place.

Sophomore Sarah Pierson, who crewed the A division boat, recognized the home field advantage that came with sailing on the Charles River.

“We definitely knew we had an advantage because we were used to the conditions on the river,” Pierson said. “There was a lot of pressure because only the top eight teams qualify for national semifinals, so we just needed to make sure we sailed consistently well.”

Like Pierson, Lambert was focused primarily on making it to the semifinals.


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