Dartmouth women’s sailing competed in the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association Women’s Team Race National Championship on April 23 and 24. The Big Green secured a fifth place finish overall with a 9-7 record after the two days of fierce competition and ranked third among the five Ivy League teams competing.
The Big Green sailors have both a fall and spring season, giving them ample opportunities to evolve as a team. As the racing season ramped up this past week, the team’s practices focused on maxing out in lift and battling incredibly windy conditions on the lake, according to Sarah Young ’25. Young, who competes at the helm, said the group focused on team strategy throughout the week.
“We did a lot of practice against each other [this week] and got our communication down, really getting familiar with each other’s style,” Young said.
Given that the ICSA National Championship is solely team racing — which involves three boats from each team racing each other — rather than fleet racing, which consists of one boat from each team racing head-to-head, strong communication is pivotal for success.
“You really have to rely on your team to help you get around the course,” Gray Hemans ’25, who is positioned in the helm, said.
First-Team All-Ivy skipper Maddie Hawkins ’24 added that practice leading up to Nationals was centered on balancing fleet and team racing.
“As this was a team race championship, we spent the week leading up to the regatta focusing exclusively on team racing,” Hawkins said. “While the team had a fleet race regatta the weekend before, we did a good job switching our mindsets in practice to focus on our next objectives.”
Throughout the weekend, the Big Green faced uncertain weather forecasts and unpromising wind, which Hemans said was stressful.
“It was very shifty until the sea breeze came in on Saturday and we got a lot of racing done,” Hemans said.
Nine of the 11 first round races were completed on Saturday. The team was off to a strong start, winning five consecutive races to start the first day, followed by a loss to Brown University. Despite rallying from the Brown loss to beat the University of Michigan, Dartmouth lost its two final matchups of the day to Boston College and Stanford University.
“We had a tough couple of losses at the end of the day that were really close calls, so our morale was a little down,” Hemans said. “I was very impressed with how we were able to bounce back on Sunday.
The second day of competition on Sunday saw the conclusion of the 12-team round robin matchups. The Big Green pulled out with wins against Cornell University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, finishing 8-3 in the qualifying round robin and earning a spot in the finals. The final round of the championship consisted of the top six teams in another round robin format. To start off round two, Dartmouth was bested by Yale University — which the Big Green had beat in the qualifying round — and Stanford, but managed to defeat Brown despite falling to the Bears in the qualifying round. To close out the day, Dartmouth fell again to Boston College and lost to Harvard University, despite beating the Crimson the day before. The Big Green’s 1-4 performance in the finals earned it fifth overall.
Even with the team’s fifth place finish, Hawkins said that Dartmouth and its sailors are always looking to do better. Hawkins said she believes the team is slightly disappointed in its placement, but is excited to improve in the upcoming years as a young team.
“In general, our women’s team is young and I’m excited to see how much we will grow as a group and progress in the coming years,” Hawkins said. “While we still had a strong showing now, it is inevitable that with hard work, we will do even better in the next two years.”
The women’s sailing team is set to finish its season at the ICSA Women’s National Championship for fleet racing later this month in New Orleans, La.