BOSTON, MA (September 27-28, 2014): With almost 28 hours on the road and close to 1,600 miles travelled, the NC State SailPack survived its first venture into New England. With autumn in full bloom surrounding Upper Mystic Lake, 20 of the nations most competitive sailing programs squared off in the 32nd annual Professor Stedman Hood Trophy regatta hosted by the Jumbos of Tufts University. The 2014 Hood Trophy, like all events held at Tufts, is sailed in one of the most unique boats in college sailing, the Lark. With unpredictable wind shifts the likes of which no Lake Wheeler sailor has ever seen, and a powerful, nimble boat this would surely be a great test of boathandling and strategy.
A glassy view from the top floor of the Bacow Sailing Center on Saturday morning.
Yet as Saturday morning arrived, the lake was a mirror without even the hint of wind. Sailors were greeted by a lengthy postponement following the skippers' meeting. If you're forced to wait it out, waiting it out in the high 70s in Boston in September will do. Around 11AM sailors in A-fleet were able to get out on the water for just a few minutes, which proved to be a good opportunity to sail this unique boat and get used to it before the wind died again and no races were even attempted. Representing NC State in A-fleet was senior skipper Benton Morton (Wilmington, NC) and senior crew Jillian Tucker (Jamestown, NC). Sailing for B-fleet was senior race team captain David Rogers (Mt. Pleasant, SC) and veteran junior crew Paulina Spencer (Raleigh, NC).
"Think we'll sail?"
Wind delays are nothing new to college sailors, but this weekend seemed like there was no wind anywhere on the East Coast. Reports of postponements from countless other regattas were reported and no doubt college sailors at those regattas took full advantage of the delay to hang out, study, do homework, and grump about no wind. Word from the NC State women's squad who were racing the same weekend in Knoxville, Tennessee, reported similar conditions. Reports of intense bean-bag and frisbee gaming were also confirmed. Around 2:30PM with no forecast for a change in conditions, legendary Tufts coach Ken Legler made the call to try again on Sunday morning. As fast as they were put on the water, the Larks were dismantled and put away under the Bacow Sailing Center.
Efficient Storage of a very large Lark fleet. Engineers from several schools approved.
NC State sailors took this great opportunity to go explore Boston - and watch a bit of the NC State football game against Florida State, which was easy to find in almost any restaurant (or pub) in Beacon Hill now that Boston is ACC country. In addition to a trip to Fenway, dinner in Cambridge, and some quality time on the T, NC State sailors had a great time seeing the sights. The SailPack squad also enjoyed some awesome hospitality from the host Tufts sailing team.
With races called for Saturday due to no wind, NC State sailors had some Boston adventures.
Sunday morning, the forecast was better and Bacow Sailing Center was hopping early. Their patience was rewarded as enough breeze filled in to hold races in both A and B fleets. Off to a strong start, Morton and Tucker in A-fleet finished the first two races of the day 10th of 20 and 11th of 20. On the second race, NC State rounded the top mark in 2nd after a great upwind leg, but the downwind would prove costly as it would throughout the day. Experience on the Lark was definitely a benefit and many of the NEISA schools proved deadly downwind. Rotations followed and B-fleet took to the water and were able to get in two more races as the wind held consistent if not shifty.
NC State's A-fleet, boat 9, in 4th on the downwind during racing Sunday
"Mystic Lake's reputation was really no joke," said NC State's Rogers. "On one race rounding the upwind mark, I witnessed one boat gybing and another just feet away tacking. They were both sailing proper course."
The Lark was nimble and powerful even in very light air.
A highlight and high-water mark for Rogers and Spencer came in the 3rd B-fleet race of the day finishing just inches from overtaking the BU Terriers for 12th of 20. Boston University turned in an especially strong showing finishing 2nd overall in the regatta. After a final race, the wind on Upper Mystic died down once again, but enough races were held to certify it as official. The Women's squad in Tennessee would not fare as well seeing their regatta called due to a lack of wind. NC State finished the 2014 Hood Trophy 15th of 20 in A-fleet and 17th of 20 in B-fleet, and an overall 18th for the regatta. Full scores can be found HERE.
NC State rounding the top mark ahead of Brown, just a few boat-lengths behind Navy and Vermont.
"Getting out on the water at a NEISA regatta against this kind of competition is a great challenge for our team. To see them be competitive at this level's also a great testament to how far the team has come," said NC State head coach Dana Magliola. "They had a strong showing in a stacked field where ten of the twenty teams racing qualified for Nationals last year."
The weekend concluded with a lively 14 hour return drive to Raleigh in a sweet red Impala with Texas plates (#notsketchy), one flat tire somewhere around South Hill, Virginia, easily a dozen coffee stops and bathroom breaks, moderate to heavy snoring, and over billion dollars in tolls. Fun fact is that the NC State team won the who-drove-the-furthest award edging out the University of Michigan by over an hour. "I'd never been to Delaware," commented senior skipper Benton Morton. "So that was a cool part of the trip."
GO JUMBOS & SAILPACK!
Special thanks to the Jumbos of Tufts University including their ace veteran sailors Duncan Swain, Alec Ruiz-Ramon, Dan Nickerson and everyone at ATΩ who rolled out the red carpet for the NC State squad during their time at Tufts. Congrats, too, to the Jumbos on a home-team win, something that fell just out of reach for the Wolfpack on the gridiron. GO JUMBOS & SAILPACK!