Rodopman finishes sixth at single-handed national championship

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

The 36 best men and women in college single-handed sailing ventured out to Galveston, TX, for the 2016 LaserPerformance Singlehanded Nationals this weekend hosted by Texas A&M. Among the 36 sailors was Tufts junior Alp Rodopman, who was competing for the Glen S. Foster Trophy in hopes of bringing home the first single-handed championship since Senet Bischoff (LA ’96) in 1995.

Rodopman placed sixth out of 18 on Sunday with a total of 107 points. The College of Charleston placed three finishers in the top five, including junior Stefano Peschiera, senior Enrique Pacas and sophomore Gerald Williams in fifth, fourth and second respectively. Yale sophomore Nicholas Baird placed third and Boston College first-year Scott Rasmussen won the National Championship with 81 points.

Rasmussen became the first single-handed sailor from Boston College to win the championship, an impressive feat for a first-year. He started the day with a 12th place finish, but his consecutive first place finishes in the 10th and 11th race along with a fourth and first place finish in the last races of the day were enough to secure the win. Rasmussen has the potential to be a single-handed contender in the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association (ICSA) for years to come.

Boston College was also victorious on the women’s side of nationals. Senior Erika Reineke finished first with 31 points, 39 fewer than the tied second place finishers, College of Charleston first-year Kelly-Ann Arrindell and Brown junior Lindsey Baab. Reineke took home the Glen S. Foster Trophy for the Golden Eagles for the fourth consecutive time in her career.

Rodopman was unsatisfied with his performance but found a silver lining in the experience.

“I was pretty disappointed with my result at the Nationals, as I was aiming for a top-three finish,” Rodopman said. “However, it was a really nice experience with really close sailing among the nation’s best single-handed sailors.”

A sixth place finish is still impressive, as some of the strongest sailors in the world placed in the top five. Peschiera, the fifth place finisher and a friend of Rodopman, competed for Peru in Rio this summer at the 2016 Olympics.

Rodopman used the weeks leading up to nationals to train in an unconventional way: with his competition.

“I went to [the] College of Charleston before the nationals to prepare with my friends [Pacas and Peschiera] who study there, two 2016 Olympians from Rio and a potential 2020 Olympic candidate,” Rodopman said.

Going into Nationals, Tufts’ coach Ken Legler had some doubts on how conducive Galveston’s course was for sailing. Located not far from the Gulf of Mexico, it is a small, closed bayou with little viability for waves. However, Rodopman made the most of the course. According to Rodopman, there was a steady breeze on Sunday that resembled Tufts’ practice waters at Mystic Lake.

Rodopman said that competing for Tufts, in addition to his training in Charleston and taking the past three seasons off to train for the Olympics, has made him a stronger sailor.

“Sailing at Tufts has taught me how to get more consistent results rather than having ups and downs, which I used to have prior to coming here,” Rodopman said.

In September, Rodopman finished first at the New England ICSA championship in a field of 23 sailors, where he qualified for nationals. He is looking ahead to Nov. 19, where he will compete at the ICSA Match Racing Championship at the San Diego Yacht Club. His ultimate goal for this year is improving on his performance at the Laser Standard Men’s World Championship, where he finished 61st last year.

Tufts competed this week at the 2016 Mike Horn Trophy hosted by Harvard, the Sister Esther Open hosted by Salve Regina University and the Professor NoRinger Invitational hosted by Boston University, all of which are in-conference regattas. Tufts finished third at Northeastern’s Crew’s Regatta on Nov. 6 and second at Connecticut College’s Hap Moore Team Race.

This weekend, the Jumbos will compete at the Atlantic Coast Championship hosted by MIT and Harvard as well as the Women’s Atlantic Coast Championship at the College of Charleston.