Jumbos top podium at two regattas, place second at another

Junior Taylor Hart (left) and senior Molly Pleskus (right) guide their boat during a practice session on Sept. 15, 2017. Courtesy Ken Legler

The Tufts sailing team participated in three competitions in the Boston area over the weekend. The Jumbos took second place in the Wood Trophy Team Race at Harvard, first at the MIT Team Race Invitational and posted the top three finishes at the Icebreaker Fleet Race at Tufts’ home venue of Mystic Lake. Conditions on the Charles River were rough throughout both days of competition, with high winds and cold temperatures causing issues for many teams.

Eight teams competed at the Wood Trophy Team Race, as Tufts ultimately took second place after losing a tiebreaker to host Harvard. Racing was particularly rough on Saturday with several boats capsizing due to strong gusts of wind. Senior crew Emily Shanley-Roberts said that the conditions this weekend on the Charles were particularly tricky.

“Sailing on the Charles River is always a challenge,” Shanley-Roberts said. “This weekend, we met a new challenge with a sunken Harvard boathouse. Our regatta was hosted out of the MIT dock so that it could happen. Seeing the sunken boathouse from the river was very weird. As far as the racing, the first day was very windy and posed a challenge to us, as we had yet to practice team racing in lots of wind. The second day was calmer and went quite well.”

The Tufts team at the event consisted of junior skippers Florian Eenkema van Dijk, Jack Bitney and Cameron Holley, alongside Shanley-Roberts, first-year crew Bram Brakman, senior crew Lara Dienemann and junior crew Ian Morgan. The Jumbos finished the two round-robin events with a record of 9–5. In the final round, the Jumbos won all three of their races, including defeating the host Crimson by three points to bring their record to 12–5. Harvard defeated Tufts in head-to-head races in both of the early rounds — each time by one point — in both round-robin pools, giving them the tiebreak victory to take home first place.

Shanley-Roberts was less concerned with the result of the meet than with the team’s week-to-week improvement and ultimate goal of returning to Nationals.

“This was a warm-up event for us, so our finishing place was less important than the quality of competition,” Shanley-Roberts said. “We made a lot of progress in our technique and cohesiveness as a team, so this weekend was a success. This coming weekend [at the Graham Hall Team Race in Annapolis, Md.] will be a very challenging event, and we look forward to implementing lessons learned from this weekend against stacked competition.”

As a senior, Shanley-Roberts also hopes to show the team’s underclassmen how to become leaders, as well as how to continue to win in the upcoming years.

“I principally hope to effectively guide our racing teams to work cohesively and prepare them to lead our conference next year,” Shanley-Roberts said. “The athletes that will remain after I graduate have the potential to be the best in collegiate sailing in a year.”

The Jumbos also competed at the MIT Team Race Invitational this weekend, where they finished first with a 17–3 record. Conditions were especially rough on Saturday with a combination of snow and wind, causing the competition to end early after only two and a half round-robin pools had been completed. The teams returned to the river on Sunday, however, under sunnier skies. Tufts’ team consisted of three junior skippers — Christopher Keller, Jackson McCoy and Samuel Shea — and four crews: senior Michelle Chisdak, sophomore Emily Calandrella, first-year Austen Freda and first-year Juliana Testa.

Keller was glad to gain experience in adverse conditions and was pleased with the team’s performance at the event.

“Racing in those tough conditions was exciting — there was a strong breeze, and it is always good to get experience in rough conditions, especially on the Charles which can be unpredictable.” Keller said. “It felt really good to win. We’ve been training a lot. We felt in sync and were able to execute and sail really fast. We have more challenging events coming up, and we are psyched moving forward.”

The Jumbos hosted their third regatta of the weekend, with the Icebreaker Fleet Race on Mystic Lake. Tufts took home first, second and third place at the eight-team event, winning in dominant fashion.

The team will travel to the Naval Academy this weekend for the Graham Hall Team Race, while also competing in regattas at the Coast Guard Academy and Conn. College.