May 2, 2011

No. 11 Bulldogs Finish Second at ICSA National Semifinals

Bulldogs Nab Spot at National Championships

LONG BEACH, Calif.—The No. 11 Yale coed sailing team saved their best sailing of the year for when it really counted, finishing second at the ICSA National Western Semifinals and booking a ticket to the ICSA National Championships May 30- June 1 at the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon. The Bulldogs finished a mere one point out of first. The Bulldogs also finished eighth at the George Morris Trophy hosted by Boston University on the Charles River.

The famous Santa Ana breezes were out to play this weekend in Long Beach. Unfortunately, the offshore Santa Anas fought with the onshore breezes both mornings leading to a large dead spot over the course and postponing racing until midday. Saturday's hold lasted until 12:30 p.m. when the sailors were finally able to complete a race in steady enough wind as the sea breeze won out. Six races were completed in each division. Sailing was conducted on a trapezoid course. While not as popular as windward-leeward courses in college sailing, the trapezoid allowed the race committee to conduct races at the same time for both the Western and Eastern Semifinals, which were both hosted in Long Beach.

On Sunday, the conditions were similar with a pause in the morning before racing got underway at 11:00 a.m. Five races were completed in each division.

Junior captain Joseph Morris sailed an impressive regatta, guiding the A division boat to a tie for first. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs lost the tiebreaker for first and had to settle for an admirable second place finish. Senior Blair Belling and sophomore Heather May crewed for Morris. Belling and May both grew up in the nearby Newport Beach area and are extremely familiar with the Long Beach venue. The combined team finished in the top five in eight of the 11 races, including a win in race eight.

Freshman skipper Christopher Segerblom, utilized his Southern California roots, piloting the B division boat to a second place finish. Senior Elizabeth Brim crewed for Segerblom. Segerblom and Brim had an impressive start to the regatta, winning three of the first six races. They had seven top-five finishes and ended the regatta on a high note with another win, bringing their bullet count to four.

The Bulldogs finished a mere one point behind winner No. 4 Boston College. No. 1 Roger Williams finished five points behind in third place. The top-nine finishers get a bid to the National Championships at the end of May at the Columbia River Gorge. The University of South Florida, St. Mary's College of Maryland, the University of Miami, Hobart William Smith, Eckerd, and the University of Rhode Island all qualified from the Western Semifinals. The Eastern Semifinals, which was held simultaneously, was won by No. 2 Georgetown. The other qualifying teams are Harvard, Navy, the College of Charleston, Stanford, Brown, Tufts and Connecticut College. All of the New England teams qualified for the National Championships.

The Bulldogs also competed on the Charles River this weekend at the George Morris Trophy. Saturday was postponed by crew races and a bomb scare on the Cambridge side of the river, preventing the sailors from getting on the water until 11:30 a.m. The breeze was extremely shifty and died quickly. A division was able to complete a set with B division getting one race in before the breeze completely died. The sailors waited around on shore until 4:00 p.m. when B division was able to get one race in before quitting for the day. Sunday brought much better breeze of 12-15 knots with puffs to 18. Each division was able to complete six races.

Freshman skipper Max Nickbarg and junior crew Margot Benedict finished ninth in A division. They finished in the top five four times with a win in the fourth race but were hampered by a disqualification and a few inconsistent races. Sophomore skipper Emily Billing and freshman crew Amanda Salvesen finished ninth in B division, only four points out of sixth. They finished in the top five twice. Combined, the Bulldogs finished eighth.

The Bulldogs will transition back to team racing for this upcoming weekend. They will sail for a spot at the ICSA National Team Racing Championships at the Fowle Trophy, the New England Team Race Championships hosted by Dartmouth on Mascoma Lake in Enfield, N.H.

Report filed by Margot Benedict '12, Yale Sports Publicity

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