However, in sailing, where positioning behind the line and acceleration to the start are of tremendous importance, the contest can be over before the clock starts.
This weekend, Harvard women’s sailing rose and fell by its starts, finishing fifth overall in a field of 13 teams competing for the Stu Nelson trophy.
However, in the final race of the weekend, a stellar start managed to offset some of the earlier challenges and brought the Division B squad a third place overall finish on the weekend.
“We ended up in fifth after yesterday’s racing, but after today we got a bullet in the only race of the day, which put us ahead by two places, so we went into third place,” said sophomore Emma Jakobson, who sailed in the Division B boat. “We just had a really good start for this race and were able to play the currents pretty well to stay ahead.”
Even in standard conditions, the beginning of a race is hard to perfect.
“It’s a complicated game,” said assistant coach Bern Noack when asked about a race's start. “There’s a countdown, and you can’t be over the line until the countdown hits go, so there’s a lot of preconditioning to set yourself up to accelerate and then hit the line with the go.”
Varying currents make this already challenging facet of racing particularly difficult. The Stu Nelson regatta, hosted by Connecticut College, is held on the Thames River, which brings a combination of upriver and downriver sailing — and plenty of changing currents. When boats reach the end of the course, they turn around and double back, forcing the sailors to quickly adjust their steering styles.
“In different areas of the water, the water was moving in different directions,” Jakobson said, “so you had to be very aware of where you were on the course, and the way the current was going so that you could sail in the proper current.”
Changing currents also place an even greater importance on the start.
“If you have a currents-affected race course, a lot of times there’s sort of one pathway that’s optimal to go up the race course,” said Noack. “If you don’t have a good start, it’s really hard to pass anyone because everyone’s sailing up the same part of the race course.”
The Crimson had a promising open to the regatta, with the Division A boat of senior Taylor Gavula and sophomore Emily Wang winning the third match. However, Harvard encountered some difficulties with starts by the middle of Saturday, hitting 10th for Division A and 11th for Division B during the fourth round of the regatta.
As the regatta progressed, Harvard felt out a better sense of how to start and where to sail. Only two rounds after taking spots 10 and 11, the Crimson managed a win for both boats in the sixth round.
The Division B team of Jakobson and freshman Anna Kaneti went on to notch another win in what turned out to be the only race of a light-winded Sunday, securing a third place finish for Division B and a fifth place overall finish for the weekend.
Harvard women’s sailing returns to action next weekend on October 14 for the Women's Showcase Finals at Brown.
“[It’s] the biggest women’s [sailing] event of the fall,” said Noack. “It’s probably the 18 best women’s teams in the country next weeked. So that’ll actually be a really good mark for where all the teams are at right now.”
Jakobson is also looking forward to the next race.
“We got our new fleet of D420s, so that’ll be good practicing in those this week to prepare for the weekend,” the sophomore sailor said.
W. Sailing Sidelined Due to Bad WeatherOne week removed from a performance that landed three sailors in the next round of single-handed elimination competition, the wind
BRIEF: Sailing Finishes Fourth in CharlestownRacing at the J. Stewart Walker Sailing Complex, the two Crimson boats competing in the regatta combined for 157 points. Harvard finished fourth of 14 teams, behind No. 3 Georgetown, No. 13 Vermont, and No. 1 Yale.
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 Takes Fifth at Sharpe Trophy Team RaceComing 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.
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.