February 11, 2010

No. 2 Bulldogs Kick Season Off at Mendelblatt Team Race

Reigning Regatta Champions Hope to Repeat

NEW HAVEN, Conn -- After a long winter, the Bulldogs will leave snowy New England for warmer weather and the Frank Mendelblatt Team Race hosted by the University of South Florida and Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla.  The Mendelblatt Team Race will be the first event of the spring season for the sailors, providing an early opportunity to test strategies and boatspeed.

Unlike the fall season, which focuses on a style of sailboat racing known as fleet racing, the New England Intercollegiate Sailing Association (NEISA) spends much of its spring focus on team racing.  In fleet racing, one boat per school in each division tries to finish as well as possible.  The cumulative scores of each team at the end of the event determine the winner.  Fleet racing turns this game on its head.  Three boats each from two schools go head-to-head.  Each team's goal is to score 10 points or less, with first place worth one point, second place two points, and so forth.  In the logic of team racing, it sometimes makes sense for the first-place boat to sail backwards, as long as she drags a second-place opponent with her.  Furthermore, team racing utilizes a unique racecourse that provides more opportunities for passing to occur.  All these features create a fast-paced style of sailing that pushes sailors to know the rules closely and handle their boats even more precisely.

After finishing fourth at last spring's Team Racing National Championship, the Bulldogs are looking to find a similar level of success in 2010.  Fresh off a successful fall season on the women's circuit, the pairing of senior Sarah Lihan and junior Liz Brim will join seniors Thomas Barrows, Mike Hession and Marla Menninger, junior Blair Belling and sophomore Joe Morris on the team racing squad. 

For Lihan, the chance to add team racing to her resume is welcomed.

"I am excited to join a team that has already proven its excellence.  I can't wait to get this season started and I'm hoping to continue the team's winning tradition."

The Bulldogs have found success in St. Petersburg before.  Last season, the Bulldogs went 6-1 to win the regatta and start the season with a perfect record. In 2007 and 2008 the Bulldogs won the John Jackson Team Race, the first regatta of the spring those years. 

The format for this year's Mendelblatt team race sends half the fleet to Eckerd College, a short sail away from USF.  The top half of each fleet will combine at USF for the championship round on Sunday.  Though the two venues are near each other, local conditions may control the racing strategy.  Different racecourses may challenge teams switching locations on Sunday.  Fortunately for the Bulldogs, they will be sailing at USF both days and may be able to apply lesson from Saturday's racing to the championship round on Sunday. 

Early weather reports call for 15-21 knots of wind on Saturday and a more moderate seven knots on Sunday.  Racing begins Saturday at 9:30 a.m.

Report by Andrew Kurzrok '11, Yale Sports Publicity

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