Though it feels like we just started our spring season, this last weekend was our final weekend of competitive sailing. Our spring season essentially starts early December, when we select and sign up for various regattas for the following calendar year. Sailing team activities take a brief hiatus over winter break, but J-term calls for on-campus fundraising. The start of the February semester yields a great opportunity for the team to attract and recruit new sailors. This year we were fortunate to add a few new sailors to the team that we hope remain active throughout their tenures at Middlebury.
Similar to last weekend, the Middlebury Panther’s traveled to two different regattas to “divide and conquer”. On our home turf, the team, represented by the always-reliable Nick Jaczko, newcomer Ben Dohan, lover of West Marine Vick Xu, and Captain Sara Gilmore, took on the first official spring regatta that Middlebury has hosted in years (perhaps ever?). The Little 3 has been a Williams College regatta for years, but due to inactivity and tough logistics, the team has struggled to host their regatta for a few seasons. Our team decided to host the regatta at Lake Dunmore, with Fairfield, Williams, Wesleyan, and Amherst in attendance. In classic Dunmore fashion, the regatta featured wild wind shifts, rain and (maybe) sleet, and a dead to dying breeze that resulted in the races being called off after lunch. The team sailed well in the tough conditions, garnering a few solid results and ended in a solid second place behind Fairfield’s top team. A HUGE thanks goes out to alums Sean Willeford, Annie Hopper, Megan Colwell and team members Sarah Scott, Emmet Byron, and Alden Cowap for helping with the regatta. Nice job sailors! Full scores: http://scores.collegesailing.org/s17/little/
The remainder of the team who competed this weekend traveled to Boston College’s Savin Hill Yacht Club to compete in the New England Dinghy Championship. Unlike the Dinghy Tourney, this regatta would feature all of the top 18 teams of NEISA, all vying for a bid for the National Championships. Due to the strength, depth, and skill level of NEISA, the conference is fortunate to receive 9 bids to Nationals. Multiple NEISA coaches remarked that this year’s championship demonstrated the true depth of our league.
Knowing that we would be competing against some of the top sailors in the country, the team did their best to mentally and physically prepare for two long days of sailing. Representing Middlebury were Alex Baskin and Erich Wu along with Jade Forsberg and Casey Astiz in A-division, with Ben Arquit and Rebecca Freeman in B-division.
Saturday’s conditions were ideal spring conditions. With the wind forecasted to build and move towards the west throughout the day, the temperatures climbed, resulting in perfect sailing conditions in the harbor. Photos from Saturday’s sailing can be found here:
If the weather and race conditions on Saturday were an 8.5/10, the sailing conditions on Sunday were a 3/10. With a drop in temperature of 30 degrees, chilly East-north-east winds, and an ominous sky with the potential for rain in the forecast, sailors and especially coaches were not enjoying the 180* shift in weather. After a delayed start due to a full moon low tide, the racing began in a slowly dying Easterly.
Despite consistent results that were less than desired by the Middlebury sailors, it was obvious that there was improvement. Starts improved throughout the day, and tactical race decisions yielded small but impressive gains. Though physically exhausted, the Panthers made strong tactical decisions each race. Even in races where the result was poor, the actual distance from the leaders of the race was minimal. The improvement and clear understanding of the race conditions was obvious. It isn’t always fun finding yourself in the back of the fleet during these races, but studying the course, understanding the conditions, managing the fleet well, sailing mistake free races, and finishing each race strong is the best way for the team to learn to compete at this level. Not-surprisingly, all of our sailors sailed their best race as their last race, and the results showed it.
After sailing, the team stuck around Savin Hill for the all-NEISA awards. Jade was once again recognized for her excellent leadership efforts this year. It was exciting for the team to see the team and individual awards handed out. To be part of another championship was inspiring, and we look forward to continuing to compete at this level and higher in the future.
Just as the weather kicks into the ‘nice’ spectrum in Vermont, our season is over. We will be packing and repairing boats this week and prepping everything for next fall. With a few more weeks of school remaining, the team will continue to get together each week and make plans for the first regatta weekends in the fall. Our fundraising efforts will continue over the summer, so please consider donating to the team in order for us to have another successful year of sailing at Middlebury College. Thank you everyone who has been supportive of the team, and we look forward to seeing you all in the fall!