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Varsity Sailing Completes an Eventful Fall Season

By Lisa Collins, Drew Mutch, Jeff Brock, and Ken Amano
Team Members

With several victories and a plethora of strong finishes under its belt, the MIT Varsity Sailing Team sailed its last regatta of the season last weekend. Finishing with an easy win, the team had an excellent fall. With prospects for an even better spring season, the team is looking forward with high expectations. Here are some highlights from the fall season.

On Oct. 15-16 the U.S. Coast Guard Academy hosted the New England Sloop Championships. Drew Mutch '98 with Jonas Sylvester '96 and Frank Marcoline '95 competed in the 15-school fleet. Sailing against some of the best sailors in the country (six teams were skippered by All-Americans) the Engineers improved all weekend to end up a respectable eighth overall.

On Oct. 15, Boston University hosted the BU Trophy, which fielded 14 schools. Doug De Couto '97 with Lisa Collins '97, and Daniel Nestor '96 with Stacey Wong '98 battled shifty unpredictable winds to finish sixth. BU successfully defended its title.

Also on that day MIT hosted the Smith Trophy. Twenty-five schools competing made for the largest field of competitors of any regatta in the country. Elaine Heal '95 with Kusumoto '97, and Adam London '95 with Anna Michel '98 finished in a strong fourth place.

On Sunday, Oct. 16, Harvard University hosted the Wood Trophy, an event named after Jack Wood, the founder of sailing at MIT. The Wood consists of four divisions: two varsity, one junior varsity, and a freshman division.

De Couto with Collins, Vjekoslav Svilan '95 with Patricia Schmidt '96, Jeffrey Brock '97 with Carolynn Bischoff '98, and David Hellmuth '98 with Christina Chu '98 played the light winds to finish fourth overall.

The same day MIT hosted a freshman invitational in Tech Dinghies. Out of a field of 16 schools, Efe Cakarel '98 with Brendan Donovan '98 and Juan Rodriguez '98 with Marissa Martin '98 finished eighth.

MIT hosted the Women's Singlehanded North American Championships Oct. 21-23. Sixteen finalists from the seven regions across the country traveled to MIT for three days of racing in a full round robin of 16 races. Among the finalists was Danielle Ames '96.

In an extremely competitive regatta, St. Mary's Danielle Brennan, the runner-up for the World Championships, won a tie-breaker to take the overall victory, ahead Katie McDowell and Laura Dunn of Tufts University. Ames finished ninth overall.

On Saturday, Oct. 22, Harvard hosted the Oberg Trophy for the Greater Boston Championships. The Oberg has three divisions rotating between two different types of boats. Shifty and light northeasterly winds plagued the eight races in each division. De Couto with Collins, Brock with Bischoff, and Nestor with Wong adjusted to the conditions to finish fifth overall.

On Sunday, Oct. 23, Hellmuth with Chu, and Marcoline with Collins traveled to the Salem State Invitational. There, gusty and shifty winds made the course extremely unpredictable. After six races, MIT finished fifth.

Victories at Cape Cod Open

On Sunday, Oct. 23 Jeffrey Brock '97 with Bischoff, and Mutch with Kusumoto won the Cape Cod Open held at Massachusetts Maritime Academy. MIT handily defeated nine schools including Tufts, ranked number one in the nation. After eight races in light and shifty winds Brock and Bischoff, in the A division, were 11 points ahead of their nearest competitors, Roger Williams College, and took the overall low point score for the regatta with a consistent 18 points. In the B division, Mutch and Kusumoto also won their division, with a strong final set after some close competition.

In the last weekend of October, MIT's freshman sailing team consisting of Hellmuth with Chu in the A division, and Mutch with Ned Patterson '98 in the B Division, both narrowly missed qualifying for the Atlantic Coast Championships.

Racing in the New England Freshman Championships for the Nickerson trophy, they sailed well in the challenging winds on Mystic Lake. After Saturday, five teams were within a few points of qualifying. MIT improved on Sunday to finish a close seventh overall. With the top six schools going on to the Atlantic Coast Champs, MIT was only 11 points out of 174 behind the last qualifier.

That same weekend, MIT hosted the Schell Trophy, the largest regatta of the year. Seventeen schools competed in a full two days of racing. De Couto with Collins, and Brock with Bischoff sailed in the highly competitive fleet. Saturday was characterized by strong breezes while Sunday saw lighter gustier wind, which made for a grueling 17 races. Both divisions sailed well after a few false starts, giving MIT a good showing in one of the toughest regattas of the year.

On Oct. 30, Adam London '95 with Anna Michel '98, and Nestor with Cakarel traveled to Massachusetts Maritime. After eight races in heavy wind, MIT finished fifth overall, out of nine schools.

On the final weekend of the season, Nov. 5-6, Ames with Heal, Brock with Bischoff, Schmidt with Kusumoto and Mutch with Heather Campbell '95 headed down river to Harvard/Radcliffe for the Mike Horn Trophy. A total of 12 schools sailed in the combined womens/varsity event. After 12 races in extremely unpredictable conditions, the team came out with a fifth-place finish.

On Sunday, Nov. 6, Nestor with Wong, and Hellmuth with Martin and Ken Amano '98 defeated a 16-school fleet during the Brandeis Bowl Regatta. Brandeis hosted the regatta at MIT's sailing pavilion in Tech Dinghies. In light shifty winds, familiarity with the boats and the river aided the Engineers in utilizing their skills to outsail the competition in four trying races.