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Facing difficult conditions, the Harvard sailing team raced to mixed results this weekend in its second-to-last regatta of the fall.
The Crimson sent a small contingent of sailors to Norfolk, Va. to compete in the Atlantic Coast Championship and finished seventh. Co-captains Andrew Mollerus and Sydney Karnovsky raced as the Harvard A-division entry, while senior Marek Zaleski and juniors Julia Lord and Olivia Kjorlien formed the team’s B-division crew. Lord and Kjorlien split time in the boat throughout the weekend.
The Crimson took on a slate of 18 teams that featured many of the programs Harvard has raced all season, including Boston College, Boston University, Georgetown, Coast Guard, and Yale.
The regatta kicked off with favorable conditions, but they would not last. Although the breeze stayed consistent early on Saturday, the wind became trickier later in the day, with sharp changes in speed making for some unpredictable sailing.
“The weather this weekend suited our team,” Zaleski said. “We have a pretty good all-around crew, so we were prepared for anything.”
The Crimson’s A-division crew took advantage of the conditions and got off to a quick start on Saturday. The boat recorded three top-four finishes in the first day of racing, including a win, and never ended up outside of the top half.
The B-division crew started off more slowly, but found its footing later in the day, recording several top-10 results, highlighted by a third-place finish.
At the end of the first day of racing, Harvard sat in eighth, six points behind seventh-place New York Maritime. Yale held a decisive advantage over the field, with seven top-three finishes contributing to a 15-point lead over next-fastest Coast Guard.
However, the second day of the regatta saw both the weather and the order of finishers change. Facing unpredictable winds, the racing was postponed, and each division was only able to race once on Sunday in the mercurial conditions.
Nonetheless, the Crimson moved up a spot from Saturday to finish seventh overall on the weekend. Harvard’s A crew ended up fourth of 18, while the B-division entry made the most of its one race on Sunday, finishing first to end up 11th overall.
In the end, the Crimson finished two points behind sixth-place hosts Old Dominion. Coast Guard overtook Yale to win overall, and Georgetown, Boston College, and Charleston rounded out the list of finishers ahead of Harvard.
The result was the Crimson’s highest finish at the regatta in the last three years. Harvard has steadily improved since a 14th-place result at the same event in 2013, ending up in 11th last year on its way to this weekend’s top-10 finish.
“We would have liked to do a bit better, and we made some elementary mistakes, but overall this was the best performance we've had at a championship-level event in a long time,” Zaleski said.
Several of the teams that topped the Crimson this weekend are opponents that Harvard has traded results with all season, most notably Yale.
Although the Bulldogs came out on top in Norfolk, the two teams have had close finishes throughout the fall. Harvard has bested Yale by just one spot on several occasions this fall, including a one-point victory over the Bulldogs in the Pine Trophy in September. This weekend, top-four finishes for both Yale’s A and B-division entries gave the Bulldogs the edge over the Crimson.
The weekend’s outcome was the latest in a string of strong performances for Harvard this season. The team has brought home top-three finishes on nine occasions this fall, including wins in the Central Series 1, Moody Trophy, and NE Match Race Championships. This season also marks the first time since 2000 that the Crimson has sent three vessels to national championship races.
Now, bolstered by another promising result, the team can look forward to its final race of the fall, the ICSA Match Race National Championship next weekend, as well as to the spring season.
“This was a really tough regatta,” sophomore Kevin Coakley said. “It’s a tough field of competitors, so [this result] definitely bodes well for our spring season.”
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