Bulldogs Battle Baffling River
BOSTON, Mass.—The flummoxing Charles river displayed its finest this weekend at the President’s Trophy hosted by Boston University. Amid exceptionally shifty and puffy conditions on the mighty river Chuck the Bulldogs improved as the regatta proceeded, saving some of their best races for last, and tacking their way to a fourth place finish at the regatta won by Eckerd.
Big breeze was predicted for the weekend, especially Saturday, but not even a preeminent meteorologist could have prepared the Bulldogs for the conditions they faced throughout the weekend.
Saturday greeted the sailors with chilly temperatures and some rip-roaring breeze. While at other venues this would simply mean an increase in hiking time, the Charles is never one to make life straightforward. Rather than consistent breeze, the sailors faced wind from the west and northwest ranging from five to 25 knots during their six races. For many of the boats, this meant going from the crew leaning to leeward to having both skipper and crew full hiked with both sails luffing so as to prevent capsize in mere seconds. Many were unable to luff their sails fast enough or were unfortunate enough to jibe into a massive oncoming puff resulting in numerous capsizes, many of which required rescuing as the Charles river muck sucked up the masts and refused to allow the sailors to right the boats.
The blustery conditions not only sent some of the sailors into the murky, chilly Charles water but also took a number on the well-used Boston University FJs and sails. Jibs came back to the dock for rotation with holes in the windows and two goosenecks bent and simply fell off the boat, requiring new masts to be stepped. One of the boat issues affected the Bulldogs as the bow chain plate bent on the A division boat, detaching the jib and preventing them from completing the race. After much deliberation, they were granted redress.
Sunday dawned sunny with much milder temperatures and what started out as a calmer breeze. While the wind only ranged from five to 15 knots, the difference between puffs and lulls seemed greater than on Saturday. The breeze was south southwest. While the breeze was less of a concern on Sunday, the B division sailors encountered an interesting obstruction when two Tufts crew sculls parked themselves at the mark, right in the way of the sail boats. While the rowers gawked, the sailors grumbled and attempted to avoid the long oars protruding into the water. The Bulldogs had the gutsiest move of all of the boats, sailing directly between the two sculls. Although a frustrating event, it was just another day on the fabulous Charles River with four races, and the rotation, completed.
The A division freshmen team of Claire Dennis and Heather May avoided the distraction of their bow plate bending to finish second in their division, a mere four points out of first place. They finished in the top-five in six of ten races including a win in the fourth race.
In B division freshman Emily Billing and sophomore Margot Benedict finished fifth, only six points out of fourth. They also finished in the top-five in six of ten races, staying remarkably consistent despite some fouling.
Overall, the Bulldogs finished fourth with 91 points, only four points out of second. In the last six races of the regatta, the Bulldogs made up a lot of ground, never finishing out of the top-five. For their efforts, the Bulldogs, as well as the rest of the teams received a pineapple and a mixtape and were granted access to vegetables and dip and popcorn as well as movie screenings in the BU boathouse during offsets. The two main movies of the regatta were the early 1990s sailing classic Wind and the Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt romantic comedy What Women Want.
With such wacky wind conditions the regatta was an interesting experience for the Bulldogs.
“Because of the vast shifts in pressure, both skipper and crew had to be in and out of the boat a lot, creating the sensation of riding a mechanical bull,” said May.
The Bulldogs are excited to return to more manageable and less mindboggling waters next week when they travel north on 95 to Coast Guard for the Wick and Shrew Trophies.
Report filed by Margot Benedict ’12, Yale Sports Publicity