Spring Sailing Underway: Spring Break, NE Dinghy Tourney, Fundraiser update

The Middlebury Panthers season is currently in full swing after a long week in Santa Cruz, CA for the team’s annual spring break training trip. Despite the waters of Lake Dunmore still being frozen into the end of March, Middlebury’s late spring break provides the team with a solid week of consistent practice prior to the New England Dinghy Tourney, a qualifier for the NE Dinghy Champs.

The team (minus Sara Gilmore, Vick Xu, and Ben Brown) near Big Sur.

For spring break, twelve team members traveled to California to take part in a week-long team building and sailing trip out of Santa Cruz in Monterey Bay. The team stayed within walking distance of the Santa Cruz Yacht Club and were lucky to be able to use the boats from UCSC for the week. Throughout the five days on the water, the team was treated to a strong ‘uncharacteristic’ seabreeze, consistent chop from the wind, and regular 4-6 foot rolling swells from deep in the Pacific Ocean. Navigating the harbor channel was often difficult due to inconsistent depths and swells breaking on the breakwater, but the difficult sailing conditions proved to be excellent conditions for training and preparation for the season. In between endless snacking and sailing, the team found time to explore Santa Cruz and join the Santa Cruz YC cruising fleet for their weekly races. Despite some confusion about how to start a race with a rabbit start while sailing downwind to an undesignated mark, the team enjoyed an evening racing with locals on larger (50-70 foot boats) in Monterey Bay. We are still unsure how a winner is determined…

Sailing in front of iconic Santa Cruz surf breaks
Wednesday Night Santa Cruz “races”
Panthers mid drill
Lifted on the port layline

At the tail end of the week, every sailor left California sunburnt, bruised, and excited to tackle the upcoming season in New England. The first weekend would be the team’s biggest challenge of the season-the New England Dinghy Tourney hosted by Salve Regina.

Snacktivities at Yellow Taqueria

The NEDT provides all teams in NEISA ranked 17-40 an opportunity to compete for a spot in the NE Dinghy Championships, hosted by Boston College later this month. The Panthers were represented by Alex Baskin, Erich Wu, and Rebecca Freeman in A Division, with Ben Arquit and Alden Cowap in B Division. When the team arrived on Saturday morning, the sailing area off of Fort Adams featured an out-going tide, a puffy/shifty westerly wind, and white caps-similar conditions to what the team practiced in Santa Cruz. The sailors battled for a top spot in every race, bouncing in and out of places 1-4. At the end of the day, the Panthers were sitting in third place poised to make a leap and take the lead. The day ended surprisingly early on Saturday despite a lighter than ideal forecast for Sunday.

Sunday’s forecast was accurate, with the first race of the day (5b) abandoned. After a 30+ minute on-water postponement, the wind filled from the Southwest. Ben Arquit and Alden continued to dominate B-division, ending the regatta with 15 points, including five first place finishes. Alex, Erich, and Rebecca sailed a consistent regatta in A-division, ending in fifth place in a tough fleet. At the end of the regatta after multiple close finishes and lead changes, the Panthers finished tied for second, winning the tie breaker and earning a bid in the New England Dinghy Championship!

Sailing out of Fort Adams

The regatta was a perfect example of how every point of race counts! The team remained focused throughout the entire regatta despite starting a race at 2:55pm on Sunday. See here for the regatta summary and full scores from the weekend. Thanks Salve coaches John and Stephen for helping with the regatta.

Thanks to the Baskin family for supporting the team in Newport on Sunday and a HUGE thank you to the Brown family for all of their coordination and support during our spring break trip in Santa Cruz. We cannot have this progress and success without the continued support from our friends, family, and alumni. As the year winds down, we look forward to advancing our fundraising campaign.

At this time, the team is asking for a donation of a Laser to add to our fleet of FJ’s. We believe that having a singlehanded boat will give new sailors an opportunity to practice the basic principles of sailing a small dinghy on their own. We often have an odd number of sailors at practice, and being able to ensure that there is a boat for any extra sailors would be an immense benefit. Having a laser would also allow our team to compete in single-handed sailing events, which features some of college sailing’s strongest sailors. To be clear, we are not looking for a brand new laser: We hope to have a laser to add to our fleet in order to continue to strengthen our sailing program at Middlebury! If you have any leads on a used laser, please contact us at sailing@middlebury.edu or alevin@middlebury.edu.

Happy Spring, GO Midd!

Sites DOT MiddleburyThe Middlebury site network.