Senior Alp Rodopman competing in the Nevins Trophy at King's Point on Sept. 17. (Courtesy Ken Legler)

Rodopman finishes first in Singlehanded New England Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association Championship

It was a busy weekend for the Tufts sailing team as coach Ken Legler sent his sailors to eight different events. Two highlights of the weekend were the Singlehanded New England Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association Championships, where senior Alp Rodopman finished first out of 23 sailors, and the 34th interconference Professor Stedman Hood Trophy regatta, hosted by Tufts. Rodopman secured one of four spots at the 2016 Intercollegiate Sailing Association Singlehanded Championship in Galveston, Texas on Nov. 4, while Tufts’ first-string of larks won its home regatta.

Behind Rodopman were his familiar rivals from Yale, sophomore Nicholas Baird, who finished with a score of 90, and junior Malcolm Lamphere, who finished with 92. Tufts senior James Beatty came in ninth with a score of 109.

This was Rodopman’s second New England Championships, after he competed as a first-year and placed eighth. His first performance was hindered by lack of wind, but that was not the case this time.

“I’ve been waiting for him to have a breakthrough,” Legler said. “He’s gotten a lot better. We were expecting that he would qualify. We knew the two Yale guys would be tough, but we thought he could beat everybody else. But he just ran away with it.” 

Rodopman spent the past two seasons training to represent Turkey in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. He came up short by two countries in Olympic qualifiers but he attributes his success this season to his Olympic training routine.

“My preparation was not much different than it was in my freshman year,” Rodopman told the Daily in an email. “However, a year away from Tufts just sailing definitely helped me a lot. All the work I have put in during my Olympic campaign is paying off.”

Rodopman and the Jumbos finished second out of 20 at Kings Point in New York on Sept. 17. The Jumbos are off to a hot start and are currently ranked 20th in the nation after starting the season unranked. Legler attributes their low preseason expectations to the new Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association’s system of ranking.

The way it used to be was a three-coach panel. They did a lot of research on every team, including at the beginning of the year in the preseason,” Legler said. “You got to do a lot of research with who’s back, who graduated, new recruits and skipper-crew combinations to figure out who’s going to be the best team. Now it’s a coach’s poll for anyone who wants to send in their rankings, doesn’t matter what school you’re from.”

Nonetheless, after finishing second to Yale in New York and winning their home regatta handily in the past two weeks, the Jumbos foresee a climb in the rankings. Representing Division A at the regatta for the Jumbos were senior Griffin Rolander and junior crew Emily Shanley-Roberts. Representing Division B were senior Scott Barbano and sophomore crew Ian Morgan.

Due to Tufts’ recent successes, Legler anticipates that his team will move up to No. 5. in the nation, especially with Rodopman now heading to the national championships.

At the Singlehanded National Championships, Rodopman will be facing 2016 Olympians Enrique Jose Arathoon Pacas of El Salvador and Stefano Peschiera of Peru, both seniors at the College of Charleston. In preparation for November, Rodopman is traveling to Charleston, S.C., to train with his rivals.

The bayou that Rodopman will be competing at in Galveston bears little resemblance to the waters that he has sailed in so far. On top of that, Rodopman’s biggest competition comes from Yale and the College of Charleston, two teams accustomed to open-water sailing.

“One of the problems with nationals is that it will be in a really, really, really small body of water — there will be zero waves,” Legler said. “[But the small body of water]’s a little bit of an equalizer. So if he can get good at this short racing in flat water, he has as good of a chance as anybody.”

With his sights set on bringing a national title back to Tufts, Rodopman hopes his success can carry over to the rest of the team.

“I think it’s great to see how we improved as a team over the last year,” Rodopman said. “Hopefully, we will up our good performances throughout the season and end up with top finishes in races.” 

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