Young Sailing Squad Takes Fourth at Sharpe Trophy

Smooth Sailing
Daniel M. Lynch

The Harvard sailing team, shown above in earlier action, competed in four regattas this weekend.

The Harvard sailing team fell short of capturing the Sharpe Trophy in its first home regatta of the year this past weekend. After facing seven other teams in the team-racing regatta, the Crimson came out in fourth place with a 5-8 record for both days.

“Overall, our win-loss record may not have shown that we stuck with them,” freshman crew Jacob Bradt said. “In each race there was a marked improvement from the previous race.”

Head coach Michael O’Connor chose the six athletes who competed in the regatta. Sophomores Brian Drumm, Michael Drumm and Gram Slattery were the skippers competing this weekend, while freshman Sydney Karnovsky and junior Isabel Ruane joined Bradt as crews.

Harvard went 4-3 in the first open rounds, defeating the University of Vermont, No. 7 Boston College, No. 10 Tufts and No. 8 Roger Willams. The Crimson fell short to No. 2 Yale, MIT, and No. 9 Brown, last year’s New England Champions.

In the two final-four rounds, the Crimson went 1-5, which was good for its fourth-place finish.


Despite temperatures being mild on Saturday and Sunday, the weather did not work in the sailors’ favor, as there was a very light wind both days. Of the scheduled 20 races for Saturday, only three were actually conducted.

“In light air, the importance of boat handling…is really important,” Drumm said. “How you conduct [team] maneuvers depends on how good of boat handling you have.”

One of Harvard's greatest problems over the weekend was its starts. In team racing, the three boats from each school in the head-to-head match-up start in a marked area of the water. In the first leg of the there-and-back race, sailors are going against the wind, so whichever boat is in front has the advantage and ability to block the wind from its competitors in following FJs.

In its second match-up with Yale in the second round of final-fours, the Crimson went 4-5-6.

“We had two or three particularly bad starts, and it’s always a sinking feeling [when that happens],” Drumm said. “It’s always very unlikely that you’ll catch up.”

Improvement was an obvious theme for Harvard this weekend, as the relatively young squad focused on what it learned in the offseason to put forth on the water. The Crimson opened its spring season with this regatta, but has already been on the water five times for practice this semester.

“We had several opportunities in the offseason to sit down in a classroom setting and dissect some common situations in team racing,” Bradt said. “Team racing is a very technical side of the sport of sailing, so you need to have a firm grasp on these different situations and how each person in your boat has to react.”

Having extended chalk-talk with the team’s coaches, Drumm believes the team was able to get a better sense of strategy as it moves into the spring season.

“[The coaches] explained and reiterated what are some of the key maneuvers you can do to help your teammates,” he said.

In this weekend’s races, it was time to put this preparation to test. The team’s plays were both offensive and defensive, as the other schools would produce counter maneuvers.


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