Ephs place second in Little Three Regatta

Williams Sailing wrapped up its spring regatta season this Sunday, taking second and fourth overall in a Little Three regatta which the Ephs hosted against Amherst and Wesleyan. Each team brought crews for both an A and a B boat, for a total of six boats on the starting line. Unlike Williams’ first home regatta two weeks ago, this time Amherst brought their two best skippers. The difference was noticeable as Amherst took first and third to win the event. Wesleyan raced hard and kept up the pressure, but was unable to consistently beat the Amherst and Williams boats. They took fifth and sixth overall.

Sunday started off with all of the teams sitting around looking at the glassy surface of the lake, waiting for even a little breath of wind. The wind finally began to fill in around 11:00, and the fleet headed out to the course. Although there was enough wind for good racing, it remained quite variable and very shifty. Often changing completely inside of a few minutes, the wind increased and decreased between five and fifteen knots and shifted somewhat randomly about 45 degrees between West and Southwest. The sheer unpredictability of the conditions made for interesting races as the shifts could easily take a boat from fourth or fifth up to first.

Williams’ A boat, skippered by Garth Schofield ’01 and crewed by Matt Drukker ’99, won the first start with Amherst’s A boat nipping at its heals. Williams’ B boat, skippered by Brad Nichol ’02 and crewed by Maggie Burr ’02 went over early and had to restart. Schofield and Drukker eventually lost Amherst’s A boat on the second upwind leg and finished second by a few boat lengths. Nichol and Burr finished the first race in sixth. They made up for it however by being on the right side of a major shift and taking first in the second race. The same shift caught Schofield and Drukker on the wrong side of the course and dropped them back to finish fifth. Williams’ B boat was protested during this race for a collision with Amherst’s B boat at the reach mark. The race committee later disallowed the protest, however, as it did not change the overall standings and there were no witnesses who were not from one of the schools involved in the protest.

The wind lightened to about five knots for the third start and also shifted dramatically to port about a minute and a half before the start. Schofield and Drukker were the only boat on the course to pick up on the shift in time and thus were the only boat to start at the pin. While the other boats crunched together at the committee boat end on starboard, stuck in each other’s disturbed air and moving slowly, Schofield and Drukker’s port tacked the entire fleet and went on to an easy first place by over a hundred yards. Nichol and Burr rounded the weather mark in second, but dropped back to fourth after a couple of bad tacks at the leeward mark. Schofield and Drukker continued to sail very well and took second in both the fourth and fifth races. They spent both of those races fighting it out with Amherst’s A boat which took two firsts, occasionally trading positions, but never managing to hang on to the lead. Williams’ B boat only managed a fourth and sixth during these two races.

Just before the sixth and last start, the wind again shifted hard to the left side of the course. Schofield and Drukker were in the perfect position to make another port tack start ahead of the fleet. They were, however, about ten seconds early to the line and unable to bear off or stall, were forced to restart. They might have been able to recover from the mishap, but disaster struck again when they death-rolled, capsizing to windward, while sailing-by-the-lee on the second reach leg. Although they recovered quickly and missed catching one of Wesleyan’s boats by about three boat lengths, they nevertheless finished sixth. Nichol and Burr, however recovered from the slump they had been sailing in and took second.

Overall, Amherst’s A boat, skippered by their best sailor Peter Beardsley, won the regatta with four firsts, a third and a fourth for 11 points. Schofield and Drukker took second with a first, three seconds, a fifth and a sixth for 18 points. Amherst’s B boat took third with two seconds, two thirds, a fourth and a fifth for 19 points. Nichol and Burr took fourth with a first, a second, two fourths and two sixths for 23 points. Wesleyan’s A boat took fifth with three thirds, a fourth and two sixths, for 25 points. Finally, Wesleyan’s B boat came in sixth with a fourth, four fifths and a sixth for 30 points. Despite the somewhat shifty conditions, it was a good day of very competitive racing.