No. 8 Bulldogs Begin Road to the Gorge

No. 8 Bulldogs Begin Road to the Gorge

Bulldogs to Sail At New England Qualifiers

NEW HAVEN, Conn.—While the spring season still feels as if it just began, this weekend will mark the first step of a three-week, two-event process that will form the stepping stones for the No. 8 Yale coed sailing team's return to the National Championship. This first step will be the New England Dinghy Championships, also known as the 69th Coast Guard Alumni Bowl. This year New Englands are being hosted by the University of Rhode Island in Narragansett, R.I. The Bulldogs will also sail at the 73rd Oberg Trophy at Boston University on the Charles River and will host the Short Beach Invitational at the McNay Family Sailing Center in Branford.

Prior to 2008, the New England Dinghy Championships served as the sole qualifier for the ICSA National Championships. However, due to the disparity of the qualifying regions, the ICSA decided to start having two Semifinal competitions, each with a field of 18 boats in 2008. This way the 18-boat fleet at the National Championships is actually made up of the top 18 teams in the country, rather than a certain number of teams from each region which meant that the strongest regions, namely New England and the Mid-Atlantic, were only able to send a few of their teams, leaving some of the top teams out of the National Championships. This new process means that this year the top-eight finishers at the New England Dinghy Championships will go on to the Semifinals which will both be held in Long Beach, Calif., Apr. 30 and May 1.

Last year, the Bulldogs finished second at the New England Championships, which were hosted by Connecticut College on the Thames River. This year's venue is a bit more like Yale's home conditions. The event will be held out of Roger Wheeler State Beach, named after the developer of the Rhode Island State Life-Saving System, Captain Roger W. Wheeler. Sailing will be conducted in FJs and rotations will be off the beach unless strong breeze causes large breaking waves in which case an alternate location will be used.  Currently the forecast is for big breeze all weekend, making this alternate rotation a distinct possibility.

The Bulldogs will also send a team to the Oberg Trophy hosted by Northeastern University out of Boston University's sailing center on the Charles River. The Oberg Trophy honors Rudolph Oberg who was the long time faculty advisor of the Northeastern sailing team. It has been hosted twice annually since 1941. The field is made up of teams from all across New England but only the top team from greater Boston can claim the trophy. Last year the Bulldogs finished 10th at the event.

The Bulldogs will also host the Short Beach Invitational, the fifth Southern Series competition of the season, at the McNay Family Sailing Center in Branford. The two-day event will be sailed as combined divisions, which will mean the field will be made up of nine teams. Last year, the Bulldogs had a high finish of fifth.

This weekend is an important one, as the Bulldogs will start their journey to the ICSA National Championship, which will be held at the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon at the end of May. Racing will begin at 9:30 in R.I. and Branford, with a 10:30 start on the Charles River due to crew races.

Report filed by Margot Benedict '12, Yale Sports Publicity