Senior Molly Pluskus and junior Taylor Hart compete in the Oberg Trophy, hosted by Northeastern, on April 14. Courtesy Tufts Sailing

Jumbos qualify for national regatta with 11th-place finish

The Tufts sailing teams competed in a staggering seven regattas over the weekend, including two conference championship regattas. The top women’s squad finished 11th at the New England Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association (NEISA) Championship in New London, Conn. Meanwhile, the co-ed team prepared for the upcoming New England Dinghy Championships with a sixth-place showing at the Boston Dinghy Club Cup.

After finishing eighth at the 2017 NEISA Championship, the women’s team sought another strong result at this year’s edition in order to qualify for the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association (ICSA) Championship semifinals from May 22–23. They did just that, squeaking into the national regatta with an 11th-place finish.

“Our expectation was to qualify,” coach Ken Legler said. “Because our conference is absolutely stacked with the best teams in the country, that’s hard to do. The good news is that because we have so many women’s teams in this conference, we got 11 qualifiers into the semifinals. The recruiting around here has been incredible in the last five years, and the all the best [female] sailors in the country are sailing in New England.”

Senior skipper Molly Pleskus and junior crew Taylor Hart got off to an inconsistent start in the A division on Saturday. The Tufts duo finished no higher than 11th out of 17 in its first five races on the water at Coast Guard. However, Pleskus and Hart responded with a pair of fifth-place results later in the weekend to post 104 points, good for 14th place in the highly competitive A division.

“We kept missing massive wind shifts,” Legler said. “We’d sail off to the right, and a big puff would roll down off the hill on the left and hit the boats on the left, and we’d be the last boat to get it. So the next race we’d go left, and the wind would just die altogether. We started getting even breaks — we’d get some and miss some — after that. That, combined with really good starts, allowed us to have some better finishes.”

In the B division, first-year skipper Talia Toland and senior crew Emily Shanley-Roberts stormed out of the gate, posting sixth- and second-place finishes, respectively, in their first two races. Toland and Shanley-Roberts also placed third in the sixth race, ultimately garnering 78 points for 10th place. With a combined total of 182 points, Tufts edged out 12th-place Roger Williams by just four points to qualify for next month’s ICSA Championship semifinals at Old Dominion.

“[Toland and Shanley-Roberts] had amazingly good starts,” Legler said. “Their boat was at full speed within six inches of the starting line at the precise instant the starting time went off. That’s hard to maneuver the boat in a variable wind, particularly when you can’t see the end of the line because every other boat is trying to do the same thing [and] blocking your view.”

Tufts’ top co-ed team took on the field at the 82nd annual Boston Dinghy Club Cup, hosted by MIT — Tufts’ last competition before the New England Dinghy Championships. Tufts ultimately placed sixth in the 14-team field with 200 points, falling by nine points to Brown, but edging Harvard by 16.

In the A division, senior skipper Alp Rodopman and junior crew Sarah Bunney registered a pair of second-place finishes, as well as one third-place result. The Tufts pairing finished seventh in the top division with 76 points. One division down, junior skipper and co-captain Cameron Holley and junior crew Ian Morgan turned in a splendid performance. Holley and Morgan were victorious in the fourth, sixth and eighth races of the weekend and closed with back-to-back fourth-place showings for third overall.

“Cam Holley and Ian Morgan have been having a pretty tough spring,” Legler said. “But they sailed well and helped us move up a little bit. It was really satisfying for them, particularly in that they need some confidence going into their next championship.”

Finally, junior skipper Christopher Keller and senior crew Michelle Chisdak placed seventh in the C division, with the duo’s best finish a second-place result in the fifth race.

Elsewhere around the region, Tufts finished second in the Priddy Trophy, hosted by Sacred Heart. First-year skipper Bram Brakman and first-year crew Theo Bartlett steered the Jumbos to three victories in eight races, and the Jumbos didn’t finished lower than fourth. With 16 points, Tufts was nosed out by Rhode Island (14 points) for the top spot.

The team also turned in a pair of fourth-place showings at the George Morris Trophy, hosted by Boston University, and the Greater New York Dinghy Regatta at Fordham. In the former, senior skipper Aaron Klein and junior crew Kahler Newsham posted a victory in the third race, along with a trio of second-place results. At Fordham, first-year skipper Wells Drayton and junior crew Marisa Permatteo won three races to finish third in the B division with 41 points.

The Jumbos rounded out their busy weekend with a sixth-place finish at the O’Toole regatta in Buzzards Bay, Mass. and an 11th-place showing at the Admirals Cup in Kings Point, N.Y. Sophomore skipper Elena Gonick and first-year crew Delilah Roberts turned in an impressive performance at the O’Toole regatta, climbing from an initial fourth-place result to win the 12-team B division.

The Tufts co-ed team will visit Brown this weekend for the New England Dinghy Championship, while the women’s side will head to MIT for the Team Racing National Invitational.

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