Coming off a successful fall season, in which the two divisions of the squad totaled 31 top-ten marks, the Harvard sailing team traveled down to Providence, R.I. this weekend to compete in the opening regatta of its spring season — the Sharpe Trophy Team Race hosted by Brown. Seven athletes made the trip to represent the Crimson, racing in FJ vessels and Z420 dinghies against competitors from nine other top-tier collegiate sailing programs.
The Crimson squad finished the weekend with an overall 5-4 record for the regatta.
Historically, Harvard has performed well at this regatta, taking first in 2011. However, the past two iterations of the Sharpe race were cancelled due to unsailable conditions. This year, while the officials ultimately did not call off the event, the meager winds proved barely sufficient.
“Quite frankly, [the competition] was running despite less than ideal conditions,” senior skipper Marek Zaleski said. “There weren’t really ample breezes and it was light and fluky pretty much the whole weekend.”
On Saturday, the racing commenced around 10:30 with a chilly north breeze of 8-12 knots, which gradually lightened up and shifted east throughout the day, resulting in progressively slower times across the board. Nevertheless, the Crimson managed to finish the day with a 3-3 record with victories over Brown, Rhode Island, and Roger Williams, giving the squad a preliminary fourth place position for the day. Capitalizing on the home field advantage, the Bears’ top boat finished the first day tallying six victories and emerging undefeated.
Moving into Sunday, the winds continued to be stagnant — remaining almost entirely in the single digits — frustrating sailors and race officials alike. Despite this hurdle, the Harvard boats finished their respective races with a 2-1 record for Sunday, which placed them fifth overall in the competition. However, since it did not place in the top four, the Crimson was precluded from participating in the last three races of the event. Brown’s first boat wound up maintaining its early lead from Saturday and topped the regatta with an overall 10-2 record. Dartmouth earned a close runner-up position with a 9-3 performance.
“The results didn’t necessarily go as we wanted, but even in spite of that, I think we had a lot of good elements to draw from there,” sophomore co-captain Nick Sertl said. “We’re looking forward to next weekend where we can hopefully get some racing in normal conditions.”
While the team’s placement did not meet expectations, the members of the squad are keeping this race in perspective and focusing on the bigger picture.
“The key to this season is going to be solid performance all around,” Zaleski said. “All these upcoming regattas are mostly training for the big ones, which are New England’s and if we do well there, we go to Nationals.”
The New England Team Race Championship will be held at the Coast Guard Academy on April 9. The Harvard squad is mindful of this date and understands how critical this upcoming month will be for honing individual boat feel and working together as a team. The team mentality is especially important because, whereas in the fall the races are mostly individual, the early portion of the spring season consists almost entirely of team races.
“In setting goals for the [Sharpe Trophy Team Race] and the season, I think the emphasis is really on the fact that this is a process,” Sertl said. “It’s sort of our first time sailing together as a team, so I think that will take a little bit of getting used to, but I think we’re doing well with that.”Next weekend, the Crimson will host the Wood Trophy Team Race, in which the squad hopes to build off of its performance this past weekend. After this race, the team will travel down to Maryland for spring break to get some time on the water in warmer conditions.
Sailing Hosts, Takes Fifth at NEISA ChampionshipAfter weeks of preparing for the NEISA Team Race Championship, the Harvard sailing team finished the weekend with a fifth place finish, falling short of a bid to nationals by one race. In addition, contingents competing at the Mystic Lake Team Race and Emily Wick Trophy took fifth and 18th respectively.
Sailing Fails to Qualify For Nationals With Eighth Place Fowle FinishAlthough the Crimson was able to sport top-ten finishes in each of its two team racing events, the squad’s bid to qualify for APS College Sailing Team Race National Championship proved unfruitful as the four potential spots were claimed by Brown, Boston College, Dartmouth, and Yale.
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