Sailing | First weekend for Tufts marked by victory in Maine
Published: Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 08:09
The Tufts sailing team was back on the water this weekend as it opened the 2013-2014 sail season with a first-place finish at the Harmon Cup-Sloops Regatta in Penobscot Bay off of Maine. The team also competed at the Harry Anderson Trophy at Yale and various smaller regattas, showing signs of good things to come for the No. 10 co-ed team in the country.
Seniors William Haeger, David Liebenberg and Paula Grasberger — the three returning members of last year’s team that finished first at the Intercollegiate Sailing Association (ICSA) Match Racing National Championship in November — were joined by junior James Downer at the Harmon Cup-Sloops.
With tri-captain Haeger back at skipper, and Grasberger once again taking up her role in the crew, the team returned to its old ways, jumping out to an early lead and never looking back. Likewise, Liebenberg was back from San Francisco where he and classmate Solomon Krevans placed fifth at the Red Bull Youth Americas Cup.
Scoring 17 points in the nine-race Harmon Cup-Sloops Regatta, the Jumbos easily blew out the competition. In fact, the Jumbos placed first in five of the races, making them the only team in the regatta to win more than once.
In order to compete at the national championship, you must first qualify for New England championships, which the Jumbos did by winning in Maine. This victory therefore starts the long and arduous process of qualifying for nationals. For now, however, the Jumbos are just focused on taking care of business and ensuring they will be ready when the big meets come later this fall.
“This was an easy qualifier for the [New England] Match Racing Championships and the first step to defending our national title,” head coach Ken Legler said. “We could have gone to a tougher qualifier at Coast Guard, but the conditions were much nicer on Penobscot Bay.”
In New Haven, the Jumbos placed 10th out of 18 teams scoring 251 points in comparison to the 135 scored by Yale, who won the regatta. Surrounded by other top sailing programs in the country, the Jumbos held their own. Juniors Alejandro Ruiz-Ramon and Sam Madden manned the Division A boat, and in a regatta defined by wide swings in finishes from race-to-race, Ruiz-Ramon and Madden remained consistent in what turned out to be a wildly close division, finishing tied for eighth.
Meanwhile, over at the B division, senior Julie Pringle and junior Duncan Swain dug themselves into an early hole, finishing 16th in the first race. Despite the slow start, the duo showed improvements as the competition wore on, slowly chipping away at the score gap to climb the standings for a finish in 10th place.
Tufts was represented at seven other smaller regattas, providing more highlights for the large team. Also in Penobscot Bay, seniors Elizabeth Keys and Charles Proctor scored 44 points in 10 races to win the B division of the Penobscot Bay Open. They combined with classmates Willem Sandberg and Tori Porter, who sailed in the A division, to finish second overall.
“Smart and consistent sailing was key for us,” Keys said. “It was important not to be [committing false starts], especially in the lulls.”
Furthermore, senior Ben Weigel and junior Erin Bondy led the Jumbos at the Mystic Lake Open in West Medford, finishing third out of 34 teams. The two other teams competing in West Medford finished fifth and 10th, putting three Tufts teams in the top 10.
Another major result for the team came at MIT in the Toni Deutsch Trophy where the women’s team competed over the weekend. Sophomores Kate Shaner and Caroline Atwood skippered and crewed, respectively, for the A division portion, while sophomore Amanda Sommi and first-year Julia Fuller sailed in the B division. The first tandem ended up in 14th place, while the latter group finished in 11th, as Tufts took a 14th place finish overall in a regatta that mostly comprised upperclassmen.
For the skippers on the team, this was an opportunity to prove that they belong in the conversation for a slot on the national championship team. Last year’s B skipper William Hutchings (LA ’13) has graduated, making Saturday and Sunday the first major auditions for the position. Despite being a deep team, finding a capable replacement depends on more than pure skill.
“We have many people with the speed for the position,” senior tri-captain Kathleen Kwasniak said. “But not everyone has had experience starting at a major regatta, which is crucial to fill that spot.”
Next week, the co-ed team hopes to repeat its 2012 victory at the Hatch Brown Regatta hosted by Boston University, while the women’s team has its first intersectional of the season as it heads to Dartmouth for the Mrs. Hurst Bowl.