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Buccaneers Still Undefeated at 5-0; Mile High City Showdown for Patriots

By SheriCheng
Team Member

The rewards of the MIT sailing team's great practices and regattas this fall are just starting to show. The coed varsity team has just been ranked 16th in the country, and the women's team has received honorable mention in a national ranking. Strong finishes in upcoming major regattas will help hold or raise MIT's positions in the rankings.

This past weekend MIT hosted the coed varsity and women's New England Singlehanded Qualifiers. The qualifiers were individual events in which team members could qualify to race at Massachusetts Maritime Academy (varsity) or Connecticut College (women) for the championships. MIT sailors just missed qualifying for the championships.

Saturday in Boston started out slowly, as a northerly wind slowly died out and a sea breeze filled in. Doug DeCouto '97, Rob Damus '99, Chris Stow '00, and Alex Mevay '01 sailed Tech Dinghies (a boat designed at MIT). After one race at 11 a.m., the regatta was postponed for lack of wind until about 1 p.m., when a 38 knot sea breeze appeared.

After eight races, only the top five sailors out of the 18-boat fleet would qualify for the championships. Damus placed 6th, highest of all MIT finishes, and missed qualifying by one place. Most of the sailors at the regatta were from Boston area schools, and most were familiar with the quirky river conditions.

"One thing I was doing was stressing out and neglecting to sail the Tech nice and fat and fast - like somehow that Tech-sailing part of the brain refused to function during the regatta," said DeCouto, the next MIT finisher, at 13th place.

The women sailed Tech Dinghies and Laser Radials at their Sunday qualifiers. The women's event drew 43 competitors from schools across New England, with the top 16 sailors qualifying. Jen Kelly '99 and Jessica Lackey '00 represented MIT at the regatta.

"I think that I won the prize for inconsistency for my second and third races, placing last and first, respectively,"Kelly said. "It was uphill from there and I just barely missed qualifying." Kelly placed 17th in the regatta.

Mixed results at other regattas

Also over the weekend, at Tufts, MIT placed 6th overall out of 20 teams at the Hood Trophy regatta. Sean Fabre '00 and Jen Shapiro '01 sailed A-division on Saturday and Sunday. In B-division, Alan Sun '00 and Madhulika Jain '00 sailed on Saturday and Damus and Carla Pellicano '01 sailed on Sunday.

The women went out the Courageous Sailing Center in Boston Harbor on Saturday to sail in a sloops (3-man) regatta hosted by Boston College. Kelly, Sarah Webster '99, and Sheri Cheng '99 sailed eight short races in three hours under shifting conditions. They were coached by varsity team captain Drew Mutch '98.

"We managed to finish in every position except first and last, at least once. That's consistency for you,"Kelly said. The women's sloop team placed a close 6th out of 8 teams.

Further north, MIT sailors at a Northern Series regatta had a great finish up at Dartmouth on Saturday, placing 5th out of 16 teams. Dave Hellmuth '98 and Ned Patterson '98 started off hot with a second place finish in the first race. They were up and down the rest of the regatta to finish in 5th place in A-division. John Beckos '01 and Nikki Spinello '01 were also up and down all day, but did finish in 3rd place three times. They finished in 5th place in the B-division.

Conditions at Dartmouth differed from the weather on the Charles, with winds at 15+ knots and white-caps, blowing straight down the lake. By the start of the second race the wind had dropped off to a spotty 510 knots and had begun to shift, Hellmuth said.

Dartmouth ended up being a low-key, fun regatta. After the last race, Hellmuth and Patterson capsized their boat practicing roll tacks. After the boat was righted, Patterson then decided to test the integrity of his drysuit by jumping out of the boat and swimming back to the dock.