September 12, 2011

No. 5 Bulldogs Sail to Third at Home

Bulldogs Gain Valuable Experience During the First Weekend of the Season

NEW HAVEN, Conn.— The No. 5 Yale coed sailing team put in a solid weekend of the water, taking the first step of the 2011-2012 seasonal trek. With competitions in both the fall and the spring, the first weekend of the fall is utilized as a jumping off point and as the first check in on how one's training is going. With several strong finishes, the Bulldogs aptly showed their strengths and also determined the areas they need to work on. The Bulldogs hosted and claimed third place at the Harry Anderson Trophy, while also collecting great results across New England.

The Bulldogs get to host very few regattas at the McNay Family Sailing Center so the team that was able to sleep in their own beds and leave campus after the sun had risen this weekend greatly appreciated the experience. With familiar waters added to this pleasant formula, the Bulldogs were primed to have a great weekend of racing.

Saturday dawned with beautiful sunshine, a nice relief from the downpours the sailors had endured all week at practice. The breeze was a little slow to arrive but filled enough by the time the sailors were ready to hit the Long Island Sound. The day was light and shifty with some rather long, quiet and slow races but each division was able to get in six races before the day was called at 6:30 p.m.

Sunday brought more traditional Short Beach conditions with more breeze and some surfing conditions as the waves built with the wind. The breeze built throughout the morning before coming back down towards the afternoon and the end of sailing. Each division sailed four more races bringing the regatta total to ten races.

Sophomore skipper Chris Segerblom and crews senior Margot Benedict and junior Heather May sailed to the win in A division despite inconsistencies. Because the conditions did not form consistent patterns, the entire division was up and down throughout the two days, allowing Segerblom, Benedict and May to move on from a few tough, deep finishes and continue to plug away. They finished in the top five six times including two wins, taking the win in A division by five points.

Junior skipper Cam Cullman and crews freshman Katherine Gaummond and senior Genoa Warner finished seventh in B division, only eleven points out of second. They finished with three top-fives, including their best finish of the regatta, a second, in the last race.

As a team, the Bulldogs finished one point behind second-place Harvard and only ten points behind regatta winner Wisconsin. While the regatta certainly had its rough moments, the Bulldogs were able to establish the main things they need to work on to improve their finishes the rest of the season.

The Bulldogs also competed further north on 95, sailing Colgate 26s at the Coast Guard Academy on the Thames River in New London, Conn., at the Pine Trophy Match Race Intersectional. Conditions were extremely tricky with light breeze both days and huge wind shifts that the Thames River is known for.

Skipper senior captain Joseph Morris and crews sophomores Max Nickbarg and Amanda Salvesen and senior Rob Struckett fought hard to finish with a record of 9-4 placing them in sixth after two round robins of head-to-head match racing, a very different format than the Bulldogs are used to in college sailing.

A third team of Bulldogs traveled to Roger Williams in Bristol, R.I., for the Mt. Hope Bay Invitational, finishing seventh. The first Southern Series regatta of the Fall 2011 season was greeted with gentle breeze of five to 10 knots and a strong ebbing current. Sunday brought even trickier current with lighter breeze, causing many boats to be traveling more sideways than forwards by the end of the day.

Junior skipper Emily Billing and senior crew Isabel Elliman ran away with A division, besting the rest of the sailors by almost 30 points. They finished with five wins, including five in a row, and never finished further back than sixth in the 12 races. Sophomores skipper Will Feldman and crew Emily Farr finished 12th in B division with four top-ten finishes. 

Billing remarked, "Racing was all about using the current to your advantage and learning from mistakes. Isabel and I were constantly communicating about what the wind and current were doing across the course."

After a week of practicing and working on skills needing improvement that were determined throughout the first weekend of racing, the Bulldogs will sail at the Hatch Brown Trophy, the Nevins Trophy and the Boston Harbor Invitational September 17 and 18.

Report filed by Margot Benedict '12, Yale Sports Publicity