Sailing | Ideal conditions propel sailors to second place
Published: Thursday, October 11, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 11, 2012 01:10
Coming off of a lackluster performance at the Danmark Trophy this past weekend, the coed sailing team took advantage of promising sailing conditions and broke out when it mattered, securing second place at the NEISA Match Racing Championship hosted by the New York Yacht Club and Brown University.
With a four−person group headed by junior tri−captain skipper Will Haeger, along with classmates Solomon Krevans, Paula Grasberger and David Liebenberg, the Jumbos entered this weekend with a singular goal: crack the top two and get back to Nationals, where they can reclaim their place in the spotlight.
On Saturday, the weather was ideal, with a 8−10 knot south−southwest breeze that peaked at a sustained 15−20 mph. The Jumbos took advantage of the prime conditions, and in the opening round−robin qualifying round, notched six victories and only one loss to Brown, which also finished 6−1 but earned the top−seed by virtue of its head−to−head victory.
With the second seed secured, Tufts entered the quarterfinals on Saturday facing seventh−seeded Massachusetts Maritime Academy, which Tufts trounced 2−0 in a best−of−three match to reach the semifinal round on Sunday along with Brown, Roger Williams and Yale.
“The competition between the top−four boats was pretty stiff,” Grasberger said. “Roger Williams, Brown, Yale and Tufts all had a shot at qualifying, and it really came down to small details that allowed one team to beat the other.”
On Sunday, the last teams standing were met with very different conditions from Saturday. A light and shifty wind from the north in the morning gave way as the day progressed and the threat of rain became imminent.
For their first opponent, the Jumbos went head−to−head against the No. 3 seed Roger Williams Hawks in a best−of−five series, where playing the course became more important than ever. Tufts ultimately came out on top with a clean sweep, while on the other end No. 1 seeded Brown lost to No. 4 seeded Yale, 1−3.
With bad conditions only getting worse, the finals came down to the Jumbos and the Bulldogs in a race not only for victory but to beat the oncoming rain. Although they had already qualified for Sloop Nationals by virtue of being in the finals, Tufts’ luck faltered as it lost two hard−fought races to Yale before the 2 p.m. mark.
“Our races against Yale in the finals were both close, but they were just a little sharper than us,” Grasberger said.
Despite narrowly missing out on the Larry White Trophy, the team still reached its goal of snatching one of the two qualifying spots for the ICSA Match Racing National Championship, which will be held in Chicago from Nov. 16−18.
“It feels great to qualify for Nationals again, and this year we hope to improve on our fifth−place finish from last year,” Haeger said. “Sloop Nationals are the only sailing national championship Tufts has never won, and it’s been our dream all year to finally break through.”
Moving forward, the team is as confident as ever, with its performance this weekend adding to an already impressive fall season.
“The strength of our team is depth,” Haeger said. “We have a bunch of really solid pairs who can compete at the highest level. We just need to take the next step and start winning some major intersectionals.”
The coed team next returns to the waters at the Navy Fall Invitational this weekend before venturing to Brown for the Sherman Hoyt Trophy the following weekend.