Tufts competes in four regattas to gear up for championship events

First-year Talia Toland and senior Lucy Robison compete in the Oberg Trophy, hosted by Northeastern, on Apr. 14. Courtesy Ken Legler

The Tufts sailing team once again encountered shifty winds over the weekend, as its sailors participated in their last regattas before qualifiers. The Jumbos competed in four different regattas: the Owen/Mosbacher/Knapp Trophy at Kings Point, N.Y., the President’s Trophy hosted by Boston University, the Thompson Trophy at Conn. College and Northeastern’s Oberg Trophy.

Tufts struggled in difficult conditions at the Owen/Mosbacher/Knapp Trophies, recording a score of 295 between the A and B divisions for 13th place. Yale won the event with 155 total points (83–72). In the A division, Tufts junior skipper Samuel Shea and first-year crew Juliana Testa finished 14th overall, with fourth-place results in the third and 11th races. In the B division, first-year Austen Freda skippered with sophomore crew Duke Saunders, as the duo secured 12th place.

The Thompson Trophy in New London, Conn. was a productive regatta, which helped the Jumbos’ transition from team-racing mode to fleet racing. Junior Florian Eenkema Van Dijk said the event attracts strong competition for the first major fleet-racing regatta of the season and gives teams the opportunity to get up to speed with the new style. Tufts coach Ken Legler was not too concerned with his team’s 15th-place finish (out of 18 teams) at Conn. College because he approached the regatta with the intent of giving sailors experience in different positions. Through a total of 12 races in divisions A, B and C, the Jumbos scored 156–122–116 for a final tally of 394. Harvard took first place with a total of 190 points.

Junior skipper Jack Bitney, senior crew and co-captain Lara Dienemann and junior crew Ian Morgan struggled early in the regatta but recovered to record a runner-up finish in the final B division race. Meanwhile, aside from a speedy second-place result in the first race, the Tufts A boat — consisting of junior skipper and co-captain Cam Holley, Morgan, first-year skipper/crew Bram Brakman and Dienemann — posted an inconsistent showing, ultimately finishing 17th.

The Jumbos encountered harsh conditions in Boston in their other two regattas over the weekend. Saturday brought winds upwards of 10 knots on the Charles River, and Sunday was cold and rainy, creating unpleasant sailing conditions. As a result, both the Oberg and President’s Trophies cancelled the second day of competition.

At the President’s Trophy, Tufts’ women’s team also struggled with consistency, taking ninth place with an overall score of 94 points. The Jumbos’ top boat finished toward the back of the pack in the opening races but recovered to complete the day with its best foot forward.

“We had [sophomores] Charlotte Lenz and Elena Gonick sailing together, which wasn’t great because Elena is normally a skipper, not a crew,” Legler said. “They were kind of awkward in the boat together until the last race, which they won. They rounded the first mark in first place and they held that first all the way around.”

Reflecting on the regatta, Gonick mentioned that since she and Lenz both typically skipper, it was fun to sail with her teammate instead of against her. According to Gonick, the duo got off to a great start in the last race, got locked in, played the wind shifts well and hiked as hard as they possibly could for the final stretch of the race.

“I know the A boat was struggling a bit in the beginning, but they definitely got better throughout the day,” junior Kahler Newsham said. “It definitely helps listening to their advice, watching their races, seeing what worked and what didn’t work and then trying to incorporate that into [our] race.”

Newsham and first-year skipper Leyla Senocak earned second place in the B division with a score of 28, falling just three points short to Northeastern. Newsham and Senocak managed to finish among the top eight boats in each of their races.

“I think we were doing well at making decisions together [and were] reading shifts before everyone else, which was really good,” Newsham said. “We were really close to taking first place in the B division. While we were competing, I could see [Northeastern] just in front of us or just behind us. There was actually a really good Harvard team, but in the second-to-last race, they capsized and left the race, so we passed them for second place.”

Senocak similarly attributed the team’s success to Newsham’s help in reading wind shifts and was delighted with the adjustments they made.

Tufts’ top teams on both the co-ed and women’s sides posted impressive results at the Oberg Trophy, hosted by Northeastern. In A division, senior skipper Alp Rodopman and junior crew Sarah Bunney sailed to first place overall, collecting three race wins along the way, while senior skipper Molly Pleskus and junior crew Taylor Hart finished fourth. The Jumbos took fourth and seventh place, respectively, in the B division. First-year skipper Talia Toland and senior crew Lucy Robison finished fourth with 60 points thanks to a top finish in the second race. Meanwhile, junior skipper Chris Keller and senior crew Michelle Chisdak placed seventh after suffering two consequential breakdowns.

In the C division, senior skipper and co-captain Julien Guiot and first-year crew Wells Drayton glided across the Charles to first place. The duo recorded just 35 points, accruing two first-place finishes, two seconds and three thirds in an outstanding showing.

Heading into this weekend’s New England Women’s Championship, as well as the co-ed New England Dinghy Championship from April 28–29, the Jumbos have their work cut out for them. Senocak and Legler both said that the women’s team must direct its focus toward light-air sailing, an aspect of the sport in which weight placement in the boat is crucial. Though the stakes are high, there seem to be more feelings of excitement and anticipation among the team than nervousness.

Tufts will also send sailors to the Admirals Cup, hosted by the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, which presents a final opportunity for the team to improve its fleet racing prior to the New England Dinghy Championship. The Jumbos have an optimistic mindset, and their primary focus for the regatta is to capitalize on as many controllable aspects as they can.

“[Areas for improvement include] speed, of course, but also understanding the game in real-time quicker,” Van Dijk told the Daily in an email. “There are a lot of things many in my class year have picked up on after last season’s opportunity to race at the highest level. It’s all about not making the same mistake twice.”