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Boston Weather: 40.0°F | Mostly Cloudy

Despite Gusty Winds, Sailors Perform Well

By Sheri Ann Cheng
Team Member

Windy weather this past weekend gave MIT sailors some brush-up lessons in sailing fast. Gusts of over 20-knot winds caused regattas at Dartmouth College, MIT, and Salem State College to end early on Sunday.

The river hasn't seen many windy days yet this season, and overall, the strong winds this past weekend were welcomed by the team as a fun challenge and a learning experience.

The women's team traveled to Dartmouth's Lake Mascoma for an intersectional regatta, sailing with 16 teams from New England and the Mid-Atlantic States. The weekend started out light and shifty, with conditions very much like sailing on the river.

Division A sailors Jen Kelly '99 and Sheri Cheng '99 stayed relatively consistent and sailed well in the top half of the fleet. Division B sailors Jessica Lackey '00 and Carla Pellicano '01 sailed smartly and scored solid first and second place finishes.

Wind speed increased by the end of Saturday, and as the division A boats approached a mark in what was to be the last race of the day, a large squall came in. Coach Kyle Welch said it could "blow the snot off a dog."

Within a few short seconds, all but three boats were flipped over in the lake. Four boats managed to finish, but MIT remained in the water for the rest of the race.

Sunday was a bit windier, with wind consistently blowing at about 20 knots, and temperature dropping 10 degrees from the previous day. Kelly and Cheng had a drier day, staying upright and sailing smart all day.

Lackey and Ritu Gupta '99 sailed a fast first two races, and then spent the last two of their four races righting the boat before the regatta was ended early due to high wind.

Lackey and Kelly said, "We certainly learned a few things about capsizing this weekend, like getting the boat up again as soon as possible, and that you can't assume a race is over just because 12 out of 15 boats flip."

In the final results MIT placed eighth out of 16 overall.

Teams do well at home regatta

This past weekend's home regatta was the Hatch Brown regatta, named after the sailing master here at MIT for 29 years. The regatta was co-hosted by Boston University (Brown's alma mater) and MIT.

Wind on the river started at 6-15 knots on Saturday and increased throughout the day. Division B sailors Dave Hellmuth '98 and Ned Patterson '98 sailed well on Saturday, finishing eighth out of the 15 boat fleet.

On Sunday, winds gusted to 20 knots, and conditions were extremely shifty. Rob Damus '99 and Pellicano (who returned to MIT on Sunday for the regatta) did a little swimming but still managed to keep the spot Hellmuth and Patterson established on Saturday.

Division A sailors Sean Fabre '00 and Jen Shapiro '01 sailed seven first place finishes in 15 races total, and placed second in their division for the regatta.

At the Salem State regatta, a bad race committee plus bad boats led to a "bad regatta," according to many of the sailors in attendance.

Drew Mutch '98 and Anna Michel '98 sailed division A, and Ian McCreery '01 and Sarah Chalos '01 sailed in division B. The regatta was cancelled in the middle of A division's race four, after a mast in one of the boats fell down.

After five hours, and not quite six races in the combined divisions, the regatta was finally ended. Mutch said, "It was smokin' windy and shifty in the harbor, resulting in a few capsizes, none for us."