The singlehanded nationals has notoriously been one of the most difficult events in college sailing to win, as many sailors train almost exclusively for it all fall while others have to focus on other college sailing disciplines. At this event, only two of the 18 sailors also competed at the top level in other disciplines (Brown and Yale).
Despite falling short of his competitors in boat handling, speed, and execution, Baird sailed to his strengths, using cleverness and good strategy to best his competition – many of whom sailed lasers all summer at the world level. Diverse conditions played into his favor. The sailors saw everything from light and choppy, to very breezy and shifty in flat water. Baird stayed consistent through changing conditions to never finish outside the top 10. This placed him in second after the first day, and allowed him to stay close in Sunday's heavy winds. The battle was tight all day between several competitors. A first-year from Georgetown and a first-year from St. Mary's barely bested Baird on Sunday, the margin was two and four points, respectively.
"It was a tough battle at the end, but I'm really happy for both of the guys that beat me. Ford (Georgetown) has been a good friend of mine for eight years, and Leo (St. Mary's) is a great guy, I love seeing him do well. As for me, I'm just happy I was in the hunt all the way until the end. After not qualifying at the New Englands, but getting a second chance to go when one of the sailors dropped out, getting fourth is pretty good. I got a lot less practice than others, and I did the best with what I could, so I'm very happy," said Baird.
Baird's finish at this event helps solidify him as a top sailor in the country, and helps the team towards winning the Fowle Trophy at the end of the year for the best all-around college sailing team.
The team will now focus on team racing for the last week of sailable weather. There are a great group of alumni helping out this week and weekend to allow the team to get a jump start on the spring season.
Scores can be found at scores.collegesailing.org.
Report filed by Nic Baird '19, Yale Sports Publicity