First-years gain valuable starts in opening weekend

Tufts sailors from last season's A team competing at Danmark Trophy on October 4th, 2014. The Jumbos have a completely new A team after graduating their entire starting lineup. Courtesy of Ken Legler

The two best skippers and the two best dinghy crews for Tufts competed at the 43rd Annual Harry Anderson Trophy hosted by Yale this past weekend. They finished 15th out of 18 teams in their season opener.

“As an A team, this was our first big regatta, our first high-level intersectional,” senior tri-captain Caroline Atwood said. “We set goals for ourself for the regatta and we fell a little short of those goals, but we’re optimistic that we’re able to execute them in the future.”

The Jumbos boast a completely new lineup after graduating their A teams from last year, with juniors Scott Barbano and John Rolander at the helm for the A Division and B Division, respectively. Atwood and junior Natalie Danziger also competed at the Harry Anderson Trophy this past weekend.

“It’s a pretty young team, and [this is] the first time we’ve really tested ourself against the competition, [which] was hard, and something that we’re definitely working to improve on in the future,” Atwood said. “We’ve competed [in] inter-conference regattas, and we’ve done lots of sailing for Tufts. This is just our first time competing against the best of the best in this sport.”

Tufts competed in 15 races across the two divisions, with the A team finishing 10th in their division and the B team finishing 15th in their division. The A team recorded a second-place finish in the 13th race en route to compiling a score of 150, while the B team won the fourth race en route to their 181 score. The scores combined for a total of 331 for 15th place — just two points behind University of South Florida, who finished with 329.

With the Jumbos split up at eight regattas this past weekend, most of the first-year sailors gained some valuable experience that will help develop the strength of the team’s roster as the season progresses.

“I think that our biggest strong suit with this freshman class will be our depth,” Atwood said. “We have a huge class and we’re going to be able to send them to all sorts of regattas and they’re all going to get really good over the weekends, come back and be able to practice against all of us. [This will] make us much stronger as a team, and also [sharing with] their own class what they learned over the weekend is going to be huge, pushing us forward as a team.”

Ken Legler, the head coach of the sailing team, also places emphasis on the importance of weekend competitions for the team’s growth. He sends weekend in review emails on Sunday nights, which recap the high and low points of the week before addressing the aspects that the team needs to work on for the coming week of practice.

“We take Monday off, and on Tuesday we reconvene as a whole team for practice and put into practice all the things we learned over the weekend,” Atwood said. “One of the things our freshmen are going to get a lot of exposure to is starting in a college regatta. It’s a very different skill, and there’s really no way to train for it before you get here, so the learning curve is going to be huge for them. [But] once they get it, it’s going to be awesome because they can practice with us on the same level.”

Tufts was also seventh out of 15 at Maine Maritime Academy’s Penobscot Bay Open on Saturday and Sunday. The A team consisted of senior skipper Casey Gowrie and junior crew Caroline Ambros, while the B team consisted of junior skipper Alex Tong and sophomore Lara Dienemann.

Additionally, this past weekend saw the Jumbos fleet team — comprised of three sailors that focus primarily on big boats — qualify for the New England Fleet Championships in three weeks.

“If [the Jumbos fleet team does] well there they’ll move forward onto nationals, [and] we won the nationals in 2012,” Atwood said. “We have a freshman on that boat who’s really promising — just a really persistent group of individuals on the boat together and we have a lot of good hopes for them.”

According to Atwood, many of the first-years have already begun showing their potential in the first regattas.

“I think a prominent freshman to watch is Cam Holley; he had a very strong showing this weekend at his event,” Atwood said.

First-years Holley and Ian Morgan were on the A boat that won at Roger Williams this past weekend, while classmate Jack Bitney and sophomore Emily Shaley-Roberts were on the B boat.

“The upperclassman team that was with us definitely helped show us what it’s all about, [showed] us how it’s done [and introduced] us to college racing, so it definitely helped to have those older guys there with us and kind of lead the way,” Holley said. “Once we got on the water, it didn’t really matter. It wasn’t a lot of pressure, it was like go out and sail and do your best.”

The A boat finished in first place with 45 points, just two points ahead of Johnson and Wales University’s A boat. Tufts ended the regatta in second place overall, losing by a narrow margin of one point to host Roger Williams University.

“It was kind of a bummer that we missed winning overall just by one point, but it’s nothing to complain about,” Holley said. “I think we have a very strong and competitive freshman class, and I think that hopefully I, along with many of the other freshmen, can push each other and make each other better so that by the time we’re upperclassmen and it’s our time to step up to the big races, we’re all ready for it…and have good chemistry. We have a bunch of great upperclassmen, so I think it’s just about bettering the freshmen team right now. We all come from different areas, we all have different experiences, we all know different things so I think it’ll be a really good thing for us.”