MEDFORD, Mass. – Most of college sailing's top female sailors were present at the Duplin Trophy Team Race Regatta this weekend, hosted by Tufts University. After three rounds, the No. 2 Yale women's sailing team finished third overall. The Bulldogs lost a tiebreaker for second to the Roger Williams University Hawks and finished just one win behind the victorious Boston College Eagles.
The format for the regatta was broken up into three "rounds." Round one was a single round-robin in which every team raced against every other team exactly once, for a total of eight races. Round two was another single round-robin, but this time only amongst the teams with the six worst records from round one. Finally, the top three teams from round one and the top three teams from round two all qualified for round three, a final round-robin to determine the winner. By the end of the weekend every team competed in a total of 13 races.
At the end of the day on Saturday, the Bulldogs left Mystic Lake sitting second overall in the standings, with a record of five wins and three losses. Although somewhat frustrated after a long day of team racing in light, easterly winds and different boats than usual, Larks instead of FJs or 420s, the Bulldogs were happy to learn that they would be able to sleep in on Sunday because their record automatically qualified them for the final round. The bottom six teams from Saturday were to report back to the regatta venue at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday to begin round two while the top three teams were not required to arrive until 11 a.m.
Unfortunately, Sunday saw even less wind on Mystic Lake than Saturday did and by the time the round-one leaders arrived, round two was still not complete. The race committee at Tufts is used to such challenging conditions though and ultimately rounds two and three were both finished, just not until fairly late in the afternoon.
In round three the Bulldogs won three races and lost two, tying themselves for second place with Roger Williams University. However, because there was no time for sail-offs at the end, the tie was broken based on which team scored the fewest points in each of the two races that the Hawks and Bulldogs went head-to-head. This tiebreaker favored the Hawks who won both of the teams' two meetings.
Despite having practiced team racing a little bit with the Yale coed team in the past few weeks, "for women's sailors that are used to sailing 'against the course', it's a challenging adjustment" from fleet racing, reported Yale sophomore Amanda Salvesen. Nonetheless, Salvesen gave the weekend an overall positive review, stating that "the best part of the weekend was how we were able to watch ourselves improve each race and use our mistakes to learn and win the following race."
As a testament to the Bulldogs' weekend improvement, in the final race on Sunday they defeated the Boston College Eagles. Not only did they beat the team that went undefeated on Saturday and that would ultimately win the regatta, but they also beat them with a 2-3-4 combination, as Salvesen says, "a combination that takes a lot of teamwork."
2-3-4 is considered to be one of the most stable winning combinations in team racing because the opponent in first is essentially helpless with three enemy boats on his tail. That said, the 2-3-4 requires all three boats from a team to work together to ensure that the opposing team stays in last and second-to-last. In many ways this can harder than it sounds because the boats also have to be careful not to get tangled up with each other while also focusing on defending and sailing the course. For this reason, the Bulldogs' win in the last race was especially rewarding.
If nothing else, the Duplin Trophy was a great team building experience for the Yale women's sailing team. The Lady Bulldogs were challenged to perform at a style of racing that is very different from what they are used to and they were forced to do it in unfamiliar boats and challenging wind conditions. Although they would have liked to win, the Bulldogs are a much younger team than the winning team from Boston College, which included two very experienced senior skippers, and obviously they learned a lot. The lessons they learned in teamwork are far more valuable than winning a regatta that has no effect on the team's overall season standing.
Report filed by Chris Segerblom '14, Yale Sports Publicity