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Harvard Sailing Caps Off Tremendous Fall Season With Pair of Top-Four Finishes

A team of Harvard sailors competes in the New England Women's Championship on April 20, 2019. The Crimson has continued its strong performance, recording six wins in the fall season.
A team of Harvard sailors competes in the New England Women's Championship on April 20, 2019. The Crimson has continued its strong performance, recording six wins in the fall season. By Timothy R. O'Meara
By Brahm Erdmann, Crimson Staff Writer

Harvard’s sailing team continued its fleet racing success last weekend, with its two top-four finishes – in the Victoria Urn Trophy and the Schell Trophy – adding to a stellar tally of results over the last three months. The Crimson will hope to carry its momentum into the season-ending Women's Singlehanded National Championships, where it will be represented by sophomore Sophia Montgomery. The regatta will take place in Norfolk, Va., this coming weekend.

Last weekend saw the Harvard women travel to Providence, R.I. to compete in the Victoria Urn trophy, hosted by Brown. Overcoming shifting weather conditions, the Crimson turned in a well-rounded performance, with the A and B crews both placing fourth in their respective categories, to earn a cumulative score of 130 and a third-place finish. But nobody was catching the dominant Dartmouth side, which finished with a score of 101.

Harvard also sent a co-ed contingent to New London, Conn. to compete in Coast Guard’s Schell Trophy. In relatively gentle conditions, the Crimson earned a fourth-place finish, led by a strong performance in the A division by juniors Lachlan McGranahan and Pomaika’i Ogata, whose point total of 72 was second only to Yale’s 65.

The weekend’s strong results followed up on a successful fall slate, when Harvard overcame a poor 12th-place showing in its first event to claim six victories throughout the season. Most notably, it won the Open Atlantic Coast Championship (ACC) on Oct. 22-23 in New London. Overall, a Crimson crew finished in the top half of the standings in 21 of the team’s 28 events.

“This fall, the team had many victories on and off the water,” junior Marbella Marlo said. “Our co-ed team and women’s team both won the Atlantic Coast Championship (ACC) Qualifiers, and the co-ed team won ACCs finals. We also had many great memories off the water and became closer as a team, and are looking forward to carrying this momentum into our spring season.”

During the Open Atlantic Coast Championship Finals, third and first place finishes in the A and B divisions, respectively, were enough to seal a 12-point victory over Ivy powerhouses Yale and Dartmouth. First-years Justin Callahan and Kennedy Leehealey earned NEISA Open Sailors of the Week honors for the second time this season after their victory in the B division.

A team of Harvard sailors competes in the New England Women's Championship on April 20, 2019. The Crimson has continued its strong performance, recording six wins in the fall season.
A team of Harvard sailors competes in the New England Women's Championship on April 20, 2019. The Crimson has continued its strong performance, recording six wins in the fall season. By Timothy R. O'Meara

The ACC win exemplified the spectacular improvement that the Crimson has made since last season, when it failed to qualify for the co-ed final after an 11th-place finish in the first round. Joining Leehealey and Callahan in receiving honors was the duo of sophomore Cordelia Burn and junior Emily Launderville, who received the NEISA Women's Sailors of the Week award after their victory at the Yale Women’s Regatta.

For most of the Harvard squad, the fall season is over, as only Montgomery qualified for the Women's Singlehanded National Championships.

In a season of bright performances, Montgomery has been a shining light - her dominant victory in the NEISA Women’s Singlehanded Championship in September gave her an automatic bid into the National Championship, where the Bangkok, Thailand native will hope to build on her impressive fourth-place finish in 2021.

Montgomery attributed her success this fall to her supportive coaching team. While team racing is done in the FJ and 420 boat classes, individual racing is done in the Laser boat class, leaving the coaches with several categories to juggle in practice.

“The coaches have been super supportive, letting me divert from team practice to get more time in the laser…modifying practices for me, finding extra time to give me support and guidance while not taking too much away from the team,” she said. “I have an injury in my foot, so that’s not looking amazing, but I did get back in the boat this week and I was feeling pretty good.”

Overall, Montgomery maintained that the key to success so far this year was the team’s strong bond off the water.

“I think the most important moments of the fall were everyone working together over different weekends and spending time together, going to practice when it started to get really cold and yucky,” she said.

The Crimson will transition from fleet racing to team racing when it returns for the spring season, which will kick off in March 2023 and culminate in various National Championship races, where Harvard finished fourth, seventh and tenth in the Women’s National Championships, Team Race National Championships, and Dinghy National Championships, respectively, in 2022.

“I’m really really excited, especially for our co-ed team racing,” Montgomery said. “Our freshmen twin brothers, Mitchell and Justin [Callahan], are very good at team racing, and I’ve seen how they've been working with [junior] Lachlan [McGranahan], so I’m really excited for them to show what they can do. The women’s team has also been improving a lot, so I think we’re in a very good spot for the spring.”


–Staff writer Brahm Erdmann can be reached at brahm.erdmann@thecrimson.com.

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