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Sailing Season Recap

After an up-and-down fall season, the Crimson improved its performance in the spring. The young team, which fielded only two seniors, looked toward a number of inexperienced sailors to skipper and did not repeat last year’s success at the national level.
After an up-and-down fall season, the Crimson improved its performance in the spring. The young team, which fielded only two seniors, looked toward a number of inexperienced sailors to skipper and did not repeat last year’s success at the national level.
By Tanner Skenderian, Crimson Staff Writer

It was a tough year for the Harvard coed sailing team, which failed to qualify for any national championship regattas in the spring season. The fleet racing teams in both women and coed boats, as well as the coed team racing results last month, kept the Crimson from competing in the final rounds.

The results were a disappointment given last year’s eighth-place finish by the women’s fleet racing team at the ICSA Women’s National Championship in Texas.

This year, Harvard failed to qualify for the event after taking 12th at  the NEISA Women’s Conference Championship. This year marks the first time since 1994 that the women did not compete on the national level. The coed team, which placed fifth at nationals in 2012, also failed to qualify.

“On the whole, the season was fairly disappointing,” freshman Jacob Bradt said. “We weren’t really expecting [to not qualify], and we were really disappointed because we feel like we underperformed.”

After losing its spot in fleet racing for nationals, the Crimson shifted its focus toward getting a nationals bid in team racing.

“We showed significant improvement in terms of our team racing abilities after not qualifying for the fleet racing semifinals,” Bradt said. “We drilled down on our team racing quite a bit.”

In mid-April, the Crimson was ranked No. 15 in the nation. As of early May, Harvard’s ranking had fallen to 20th.

“We thought we underperformed on the regional level and in our qualifiers,” Bradt said. “Apart from that, we did have a few events, especially earlier in the spring, where we felt like we were improving.”

Despite how it ended, the entire year was not as sour for Harvard.

“We had some strong performances this year, including qualifying for fall championships, which was unfortunately canceled due to Hurricane Sandy,” junior co-captain Ben Lamont said.

The Crimson had 40 regattas scheduled when the season opened on Sept. 8. The fall championships were scheduled for the first two weekends in November.

The Tech Invitational and Reed Trophy regattas were postponed on the weekend of April 20 as a result of the lockdown and manhunt in the Boston area.

“Our worst races were in the fall,” Bradt said. “In the spring, we produced more mixed results.”

The greatest setback for Harvard was the age and experience of the team.

“In the beginning of last fall, we knew we were in a building year,” Bradt said. “A lot of our talent graduated last year, and we are a fairly young team.”

In the final coed fleet, the Crimson had a sophomore and freshman as skippers. Three skippers in team racing were also part of the sophomore class. Harvard started only one junior, co-captain Isabel Ruane.

“We were going up against teams with a lot more juniors and seniors [and] experience,” Bradt said.

Throughout the season, the team had to contend with more seasoned competition. Harvard’s lack of experience was an ongoing challenge for both skippers and crews.

“We sailed an obviously young team,” Lamont said.

As a result, the coaches tried their best to practice fundamental tactical boat-handling issues at the beginning of the year. Bradt noted the improvement in fundamentals that showed itself towards the end.

Improvement was a word the Crimson sailors used frequently to describe their season.

“We’re already starting to look past [not qualifying this year], and we look forward to trying to get the team better for next year,” Lamont said.

The incoming class of freshmen has created optimism within the program. The Crimson graduates only two seniors this year, Nicolas Gordon and Jason Michas.

“We have a lot of young talent on the team, and we’re excited for next season,” Lamont said. “We have excellent coaches; it was just a tough year.”

Still, it was difficult for those who had been with the program for a few years to come to terms with not meeting the expectations that come with Harvard sailing.

“In general, it was a disappointing year in that we have had such a high level of achievement for the better part of 15 years, which made it difficult not to qualify,” Lamont said. “We were an average team in an average year, but we’re a team with much higher expectations.”

—Staff writer Tanner Skenderian can be reached at

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