Jumbo sailing makes waves at Mystic Lake

04/16/2017 - Boston, MA - Junior Molly Pleskus and sophomore Sabrina Van Mell sail in a regatta hosted by Boston University on Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017. (Ray Bernoff / The Tufts Daily Archives)

Tufts sailing steered past the competition over the weekend, with the co-ed team snagging first place out of 20 schools at the 35th Professor Stedman Hood Trophy on their home waters of Mystic Lake in Medford. The Tufts A and B Division teams finished with scores of 23 and 15 points, respectively, adding up to a total score of 38 points to knock the competition out of the water. Roger Williams University trailed by 6 points to take second, and Yale placed third with an equal score to Roger Williams, but fewer top-place finishers.

“We had a pretty big advantage coming into this regatta because not only was it at home, but because we used our own boats, called ‘Larks,’ that no other school uses,” senior tri-captain Lara Dienemann said. “But we were also sailing very well, regardless of that.”

The wind conditions on Saturday were mild, but “shifty,” meaning the direction the wind came from was oscillating back and forth.

“Because of the shifty conditions, we had to use a lot of pattern recognition, and that gave us another advantage,” Dienemann said.

Dienemann and her partner, junior skipper Jack Bitney, played a large role in the Jumbos’ victory this past weekend, winning the B Division with a score of 15 points. Senior crew Emily Shanley-Roberts and junior skipper Florian Eenkema van Dijk partnered to place third in the A Division, finishing with a score of 23 points. Both pairs are examples of underclassmen from last year’s team stepping up to fill the roles of the many graduated seniors.

“Our primary focus for our races this weekend was getting off the line, because that’s something that we have been struggling with as a team recently,” Bitney said. “That’s what I was thinking in my head. Having a solid start is really important in a race.”

Coach Ken Legler had the team practice on starts all week prior to the races, and it clearly paid off.

“Once we got a good start, I could relax and think more clearly about what tactics we should use for the rest of the race,” Dienemann said.

The team also competed individually at the New England Intercollegiate Sailing Association (NEISA) Women and Men’s Single-Handed Championship. The event, hosted by Roger Williams University, saw stellar performances on both the male and female sides for the Jumbos. Senior Alp Rodopman, the regatta’s defending champion, battled sickness all week and was unable to practice, but still managed to capture fourth place by an impressive 16 point margin — good enough to qualify for a spot at nationals.  First-year Talia Toland finished second with a score of 49 points, trailing U.S. Coast Guard Academy senior Dana Rohde by a mere two points and also qualifying for nationals in the process.

“I came into this regatta with the goal to qualify for nationals, but optimally, to win,” Toland said. “The results were a bit bittersweet; I did qualify, but I also was in first place the entire weekend until I lost three boats in the last 30 seconds of my final race, causing me to drop to second place overall.”

Although she is only a first-year, Toland is not new to individual competition. In fact, sailing with a partner is a skill with which she is still trying to get comfortable.

“I love being on the boat by myself,” she said. “I just recently transitioned to sailing double-handed boats and working with someone else to make decisions while sailing around the course is definitely more challenging for me than just doing what feels intuitive. But I’m looking forward to transferring these single-handed sailing skills to double-handed boats and start winning some events for the women’s team.”

Thanks to their performances, Toland and Rodopman will sail in the individual Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association (ICSA) national championships, to be held Nov. 4–5 in St. Petersburg, Fla. From Sept. 30 to Oct. 1, the Jumbos will compete at eight different regattas in several different locations: BU, Coast Guard Academy, Cornell, Dartmouth, MIT, Fordham, Harvard and Oakcliff.