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Windy Weekend Tests Sailors at NE Regattas

October 28, 2003
© Amory Loring

Big breezes swept across the northeast last weekend, providing some of the most challenging sailing conditions of the fall season. Sailors at the Men’s Singlehanded New England Championship at Dartmouth, the Stu Nelson Regatta at Connecticut College, and the Sherman Hoyt Intersectional at Brown were all forced to hike hard and hang tough in breeze, waves, and cool weather.

The Men’s Singlehanded New England Championship drew 18 Laser sailors, all of whom had previously qualified to compete. At stake was four spots at the Men’s Singlehanded Nationals at Eckerd College on Nov. 21 and 22. The NE Championships was sailed in 8 to 16 knots of breeze on Saturday, and 8 to 25 knots on Sunday.

“The velocity changes were so abrupt and large that if you were not keeping your head out of the boat and preparing for them, you could flip, upwind or downwind,” said Brown’s Chris Ashley, who finished third. “More specifically, the gust onslaught was so strong that sometimes you just got blown right over. All in all, it was a very exciting day and a lot of fun to think about after the fact.”

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Ashley qualified for the Nationals, along with Harvard’s two Laser masters, freshman Clay Johnson and sophomore Vince Porter, and Tufts sophomore Zander Kirkland.

Johnson, who also won D division last week at the Navy Fall Intersectional, won the regatta with 47 points in 18 races, 27 ahead of Porter’s 74. The freshman phenom attributed his success to his ability to react quickly, and his overall course awareness. “You really needed to have your head out of the boat at all times,” he said, “because if you missed a puff or were out of phase for a shift or two, you could lose substantially. With 18 really good guys competing, all mistakes were magnified.”

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| © Amory Loring|

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| Harvard freshman Clay Johnson surveys the course before a race at the NEISA Men’s Singlehanded Championships. Johnson won the regatta handily.* * *|

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At the same time that the men’s singlehanded sailors were fighting 26-knot puffs on Lake Mascoma, 18 teams of women from three districts competed at the Stu Nelson Trophy at Connecticut College, which was a New England qualifier for the Atlantic Coast Championships, to be held Nov. 15 and 16.

In the women’s competition, Old Dominion demonstrated its grit in 6 to 14 knots on the Thames River. Anna Tunnacliffe and crew Christabelle Fernandez dominated in A division, while Mo Castrucio and Rachel Wright held onto a fourth place finish, good enough to seal up the regatta. Harvard, meanwhile, put up a second place finish with Genny Tulloch skippering to second in A division and Clemmie Everett finishing fifth in B. Number one ranked Dartmouth placed third, and Tufts placed fourth. Harvard and Tufts secured spots at the ACCs, joining Dartmouth and Yale, which qualified the previous weekend at the Yale Women’s Intersectional.

“It was quite breezy both days, with Sunday’s puffs bigger than Saturday’s,” said Liz Hyon, a Dartmouth junior who, along with Lauren Padilla, finished third in A division. “There was some current, huge chop, and the reaches were really exciting: there was definitely some carnage as boats couldn’t handle the big gusts.”

Just up the coast a bit, the breeze was even less relenting at Brown University, where the Sherman Hoyt Intersectional was held in breezes around 15 knots both days, with gusts well above 20 on Sunday. Eighteen teams from three districts competed at the Hoyt, providing spectacular conditions for Brown’s fleet of 420s.

Hobart William Smith dominated the Hoyt, finishing second in A by just four points and first in B division, for a combined point total of 149, 48 points ahead of second place finisher Boston College. St. Mary’s College of Maryland, Brown, and Georgetown rounded out the top five finishers at the event.

“Conditions were tricky in the first sets of each day while the southerly breeze settled in,” said Dartmouth Assistant Coach Brian Stanford. “After that, the competition basically came down to a matter of hiking hard and keeping the big picture in mind. Hobart did that well.”

Hobart was ranked sixth in coed competition after the most recent rankings, but looks to improve after finishing third at the Navy Fall Intersectional last weekend, and first at the Hoyt Trophy.

Boston College, the second place finisher, also stands to improve upon their 12th place ranking. However, it’s worth nothing that because many of the top coed skippers were not present at the event, due to Men’s Singlehanded New Englands, the Hoyt regatta might not be the most accurate forecaster of the Oct. 29 rankings.

The upcoming weeks will bring more heated action as teams compete for the final berths at the ACCs, and then compete in the grand finale of the fall season for the three Atlantic Coast districts.

Fall Qualifying Concludes for Pacific Coast Districts

By Annie Johnson

Qualifying for the ICSA’s fall North American Championships concluded on the West Coast last weekend with the Women’s Singlehanded Pacific Coast Championships at the Mission Bay YC. The women of the PCIYRA managed to get off 10 races Saturday before calling the regatta Sunday for lack of consistent breeze. Stanford senior Ashley Frush placed first with 30 points followed by USC senior Katie Clausen with 38 points. UC Irvine’s Lauren Maxam was third with 48 points.

The following West Coast sailors and teams have qualified for ICSA Fall Championships:

Men’s Singlehandeds: Brendan Fahey (Washington), Brian Haines (Stanford), and Greg Helias (USC)

Women’s Singlehandeds: Katie Clausen (USC), Ashley Frush (Stanford), and Hayley Siegenthaler (Washington)

Sloop: Orange Coast College (PCIYRA) and Portland State University (NWICSA)

The underclassmen of the PCIYRA also had their chance to shine last weekend at the annual Frosh/Soph Regatta in San Diego as 20 teams converged on the Mission Bay YC. After completing 14 races on Saturday (8 in A division and 6 in B division), sailors arrived to dreary conditions Sunday from the fires raging in San Diego County. After a delay until 12:30 p.m. the race committee managed to get two more B division races in to even out the set.

The University of Southern California won the regatta by a convincing 19 points over its nearest competitor, UC Irvine. Freshmen Greg Helias and Melanie Roberts skippered for the Trojans, while sophomores Meghan Hoffman and Tiffany Sih crewed.
USC placed three teams in the top ten, while Stanford and Cal Maritime each placed two with UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara and UC San Diego filling the remaining spots in the top 10.

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