Oh So Close! A recap of the past two weeks for MCSC

Simply put, the team would not be where it is today without all of the hard work and contributions made from every single member of this sailing team. Over the past two weeks, the sailing team has experienced new highs and a few lows. For the first time in years (we really are not sure how long), the Middlebury Panthers cracked the top 18 teams of NEISA, topping out at 16th overall after week 6. Week 7’s regatta at Mass Maritime Academy’s Great Herring Pond Open yielded slightly disappointing results, leaving the team in a super close 19th place, just hundreds of decimal points behind Salve Regina in 18th. Salve seemed to save their best sailing for the last two weekends, as they were able to secure a spot in the top 18 of NEISA.

Despite the weather warnings for heavy winds and potentially heavy rains, Nate Weiner/Emmet Bryon and Lexie Lessing/Julia Silva trekked from Middlebury to Boston College for the Central Series #6. With the potential for strong Southwesterly winds, BC allowed teams to make late drops. Never one to quit, the group of Middlebury sailors sent it to Boston to tackle the breezy sailing conditions. After a slow start to the day, the strong winds drove into Boston Harbor, followed by a rain so torrential that Lexie and Julia claimed ‘they could not see or hear the finish line’. Races were called a bit early on Saturday and no final decision was made on racing until the next day. In the end, there was no sailing on Sunday in Boston Harbor, and the team headed back north to Middlebury to find snowy mountain peaks and that fall is already on its way out.

Leading into this past Sunday’s regatta at Tufts, the Middlebury Panthers needed a top score in order to sneak into this upcoming weekend’s Schell Trophy hosted by Coast Guard Academy. The breezy conditions provided spectators with ample entertainment, coaches with five hours of stress, and sailors with exhausting yet exciting sailing. As the breeze was not expected to subside throughout the day, Diana W, UNH’s coach, made the decision with Ken Legler to limit sailors to just a mainsail. Tufts sailors helped rig all of the new Turbo Larks, stepping the masts and wrapping the jibs around themselves to render them useless for the day. Whether this was safer / better for the boats or not, this was the decision that was made by two very experienced coaches. Sailing without a jib in big puffy breeze caused multiple teams to find themselves stuck in irons for minutes at a time.

img_5492

The Panthers sent two complete teams to the Peak Foliage, hosted by UNH at Tufts. Our Women’s team was comprised of Jade Forsberg and Sarah Yang along with Raine Ellison and Alden Cowap. Our coed team was fielded by Ben Arquit and Sarah Scott plus Sam Scatchard and Sam Zimmer. Ben and Sarah started quite strong, with a 2nd and a 1st in the first set. They finished with solid scores despite an incomplete final set due to time constraints. Although no Reese’s were awarded during the regatta (at least to our knowledge), the team always enjoys a well managed day of racing by Diana and her assistants from UNH. Thanks to Tufts for their help rigging and derigging the Larks, and congrats to Mcgill for their win and securing the 16th spot in NEISA. Full scores and report here.

img_6030
(Sam Z, Sam S, Ben A, Sarah Scott, Raine, Alden, Jade, Sarah Yang in front)

Despite narrowly missing the cut for the top 18 teams of NEISA and a berth in the Schell, the Panthers are excited to compete this weekend on the Thames river at the Fall Dinghy Tourney. It will be exciting to compete against a half dozen other teams who narrowly missed the cut, just down river from the Schell tourney. The team still has eyes on a top 18 finish overall, as we have two more regattas to compete in. Thanks to everyone who continues to support our team as we make positive strides and continue to move up in the ranks in collegiate sailing.

On the Rise

This past weekend, the Middlebury Panthers made the long (and gorgeous) drive to Maine for the Barnett Trophy at Bowdoin and the Protest Trophy hosted by Bates. Two great events in a variety of conditions yielded mixed results for the the Panthers.

The Barnett was sailed out of Bowdoin’s beautiful new Leighton Sailing Center on Harpswell Sound. Saturday’s sailing conditions were a building seabreeze with diminishing sunshine throughout the day. Ten races were sailed with on-water rotations and one lunch break in between race 4 and 5. Though the Middlebury sailors had little to no trouble sailing in the 10kt seabreeze, the current played a bit of a factor in the morning in their tactical decision making. Whether fortunate or unfortunate, only 9 teams showed up to the Barnett, meaning that A and B fleet sailed combined divisions. With tricky current and multiple fouls at the weather and offset mark each race, scores were up and down for every team on day one. As the day wore on, the Panthers results became more consistent, with a few solid top 8 finishes mixed in. At the end of the day, the Panther’s sat in a comfortable position ahead of UCONN, poised to make a move to pass Mass Maritime.

img_5462
(Ben Brown and Casey Astiz in boat 8)

img_5461

As luck would have it, Saturday’s kind seabreeze gave way to a stiff and chilly NW breeze for Sunday. Fortunately, only 8 races would be sailed on Sunday, and with races just off the Leighton Sailing Center, rotations would be done off the dock. Shortly after the start of the races, the skies open, and the breeze kicked in, and the weather progressively got worse and worse. With each rotation, teams were slower and slower to leave the dock. Unlike Saturday’s mistake filled sailing, Sunday’s racing featured virtually no fouls and plenty of exciting racing finishes.

img_5467

In A-fleet, Ben Brown (2018) and Casey Astiz (2019) started the day with three strong races due to great starts and solid management of the fleet. Jade Forsberg (2017) and Sarah Yang (2019) improved within a strong B-fleet and enjoyed one race of leading the fleet around the first two marks. The day could not have ended any earlier, as all sailors were wet, cold, and exhausted from two days of racing. The Panther’s 8th place finish will certainly provide the team great points to help move up the rankings this week in NEISA. Congrats to Harvard and a big thank you to Head Coach Frank Pizzo and company for running an excellent regatta. Full scores can be found here.

In Lewiston, Maine, the Panthers raced against another formidable group of sailors at the Protest Trophy. Bates sailing venue is located at Taylor Pond. Unfortunately, the regatta did not feature the breeze that the sailors had in Harpswell Sound-just the rain.

fullsizerender

From Lexie Lessing (2019): “Everything went smoothly besides the wind dying after the third race and the constant cold rain”.
Lexie Lessing and Erich Wu started strong in A-fleet, netting a few strong races. As the wind tapered off and the rain got heavier and colder, the results flatlined into more consistent mid-fleet races.
New racers Vick Xu and Eiko Fulton raced in B-fleet, struggling to find consistently but had some good races with solid results. Being Eiko’s first and Vick’s second regatta, their hard work and drive to improve was apparent throughout Sunday’s regatta.

The team heads to two more regattas this coming weekend. Four sailors will take on a group of schools up north in Montreal, Quebec at the McGill Cup. Another group of sailors will head to the infamous Great Herring Pond Open at Mass Maritime’s inland sailing venue.

Thanks to all of the parents, friends, and family who continue to support our team. We cannot do it with our your support, so we appreciate any donations that you are able to make to our small but growing club sailing team. We are excited with our progress and have our eyes looking forward to this weekend’s important regattas.

Slow and Steady wins the race?

Some may argue that ‘slow and steady’ does not in fact help you win a sailing race. However, the Fall season for NEISA sailors is more of a marathon than a sprint, a race that merits methodical sailing throughout the course of the season.

Certainly, the sailing conditions this past weekend at MIT’s Wood Pavilion on the Charles River required methodical planning, as shifty and progressively light Northeast winds filtered through the Charles River basin.

img_5452

Most sailors have a love/hate relationship with the George Warren Smith Trophy at MIT: whereas the sailing on the Charles can be so exciting, it can also be terribly frustrating and unforgiving. Relative to Middlebury, sailing in Boston is considered ‘close’, and regattas in Boston always yield great turn outs from teams both stronger and weaker than Middlebury. Not to mention the regatta is sailed in Fireflys and MIT’s infamous ‘Tech(nical) Dinghies‘. There is something so pure and classic about sailing in downtown Boston on the Charles. Needless to say, the sailing on the Charles is always…unpredictable.

Saturday’s weather was forecasted to blow 15-25 from the Northeast-a promising forecast for the Charles. Thirty-eight or so sailors from 19 schools arrived at the Charles to lighter than forecasted breeze and a drizzle that never let up throughout the day. The Middlebury Panthers were represented by Ben Brown and Alden Cowap in A-fleet, and Ben Arquit and Emmet Byron in B-fleet. A-fleet started in fireflies with B-fleet in the techs. Both groups started off strong, allowing confidence to build slowly throughout the day. However, just as quickly as one’s confidence can blossom after a strong race on the Charles, one terrible race can quickly humble even the strongest sailors and remind them that the Charles does what the Charles wants. Needless to say, the Panthers ended Day 1 of the Smith Trophy in a comfortable 9th place with the possibility to gain a place or two.

The weather on Sunday was much less exciting with grey skies, light breeze, and just plain damp. The team set goals to close the gap on Boston College, only 25 points ahead. A few good races for the Panthers and a few poor races by the 2nd ranked BC Eagles could allow Middlebury to move into 8th place for the regatta. After a strong first set for Midd, the wind slowly shut off, creating ever so frustrating and unforgiving sailing conditions. Connecting the puffs was the name of the game, and locating the breeze before others would result in positive results. Despite putting our time on Lake Dunmore sailing in the lightest of breezes this fall, the Panthers could not keep up the Sunday morning success and faltered in the light, patchy air.

img_5453

The regatta ended when MIT sailing Master Franny Charles could no longer maintain any breeze above 3kts. The regatta was called around 1pm with Middlebury finishing in a strong 9th out of 19 boats.
Thanks to Franny Charles and the MIT sailing staff once again for an efficient regatta. Full scores.

The entire team continues to work hard every day at practice, supporting and pushing each other. The Panthers thank everyone who continues to house, support, and watch our team as we continue to gain traction during the marathon that is the fall 2016 season. Excitingly, the team has continued to climb the NEISA rankings and is looking forward to this coming weekend. This weekend, the team will have eight sailors competing in Maine-one group at the Barnett (Bowdoin College) and another group at the Protest (Bates College).

GO MIDD!!!

Sites DOT MiddleburyThe Middlebury site network.