No. 2 Bulldogs Win Mendelblatt Team Race

Sarah Lihan and Kate Williams. (Photo by Steve Conn)
Sarah Lihan and Kate Williams. (Photo by Steve Conn)

Team Opens Spring Season With a Win for Fourth Consecutive Year

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Bulldogs love Florida.  For the fourth year in a row, Yale sailors have finished first at the opening event of the season, the Mendelblatt Team Race.  The Bulldogs cruised to victory Sunday with a 7-0 record at the regatta hosted by the University of South Florida.

After a long offseason, the team racing team quickly found its form at the team racing event.  Representing the Bulldogs were seniors Thomas Barrows, Mike Hession and Sarah Lihan, juniors Blair Belling and Liz Brim and sophomore Joe Morris.  To help work away the winter rust, the team flew down Thursday night in order to squeeze in a practice day on Friday.  A cold front blew through St. Petersburg on Friday morning, providing the sailors with windy and rainy conditions.  Undeterred, the team practiced boathandling until lightning on the horizon forced everyone back to shore for the remainder of the day. 

Saturday featured cold, sunny and windy conditions.  Half of the teams, including the Bulldogs, reported to USF for racing while the other half sailed out of Eckerd College.  The Bulldogs powered their way through the first round robin and won each of the gold-fleet races against the competitors that were already at USF.  However, the team would have to wait until Sunday to meet their gold-fleet competition from the Eckerd venue. 

Sunday opened with similar conditions to Saturday, but the forecast called for the breeze to die throughout the day.  Like clockwork, the wind died before the gold-fleet races could be finished.  After a 45-minute delay, the last races were sailed and the Bulldogs emerged as the victors, with a perfect 7-0 record.  College of Charleston took second place with a 6-1 record. 

The regatta was a success for team-race squad rookie Sarah Lihan.

"The whole team stayed really calm the entire weekend and worked together," she said. 

Yale sailing now sets its sights on the northeast racing circuit, with a practice weekend at the McNay Family Sailing Center scheduled for Feb. 20-21 and the Tom Noble Team Race hosted by Washington College on Feb. 27-28.

Report filed by Andrew Kurzrok '11, Yale Sports Publicity