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Sailing Starts Strong In Year's 1st Regatta

By Daniel Nestor
team member

Although the varsity sailing team was a strong contender for second place in its first regatta of the spring season, misfortune late in the competition dropped MIT to seventh overall. The Owen trophy was a two-day, 14-team, 28-race event held March 23 and 24 on the Charles River. This intersectional regatta is held alternate years in New England and the Mid-Atlantic area.

Both Saturday and Sunday were very windy, with the breeze 15-18 knots with gusts over 20 knots, and dropping off to 10-12 knots late on Sunday. The air was frigid; yarn "tell-tales" froze to wire shrouds, and hands and feet went numb in the icy water of the Charles.

Although MIT had not finished in the top ten in an intersectional regatta in over two-and-a-half years, the Beavers jumped out to second place behind host Harvard after the first set of four races, two in each of the two divisions. Sailing in the A division for MIT was Douglas DeCouto '95 with crew Yoko Kusomoto '95, and in the B division was Daniel Nestor '96 with crew Mark Sapirie '96. On shore, Coach Franny Charles and Drew Mutch '94 directed the foursome through the event.

After the second set, BC had overtaken MIT for second, but from then until the end of the first day, the Beavers held onto a solid second with a decent sized lead on Navy, Yale, Coast Guard, and URI. The Tech sailors, while pleased with their first day's performance, could not rest easily knowing that BC, Harvard, and Navy were ranked in the top ten teams in the country, and URI, Yale, and Coast Guard were in the top twenty.

The second day of competition saw Harvard and BC pull ahead and secure their top two spots, while MIT held onto a slowly narrowing lead over their closest competitors for third. Going into the final set of races, MIT's lead was only a few points. DeCouto had a mid-fleet finish in race thirteen in the A division, but sailed to a near-perfect second place finish in his final race.

Unfortunately, MIT's hopes of glory crumbled when Nestor was disqualified from his thirteenth race following a protest from Harvard, and also from his fourteenth race after a protest from Columbia.The disqualifications dropped MIT four overall spots, for a seventh-place finish. Although disappointed, the Beavers proved that they are a team to be reckoned with this season as they prepare for the New England Championships at the end of the spring.