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No. 4 Bulldogs Take Second at Competitive Truxtun Umsted Intersectional

Joe Morris and Grace Becton.
Joe Morris and Grace Becton.

March 23, 2009

Complete Results

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The No. 4 Bulldogs turned in an extremely strong performance in taking second at the Truxtun Umsted Intersectional, perhaps the most competitive fleet race regatta before the championship part of the season. The regatta displayed the team's depth in a variety of boats against some of the best teams in the nation, including nine of the top 10 teams in the nation. The team also competed at the Veitor Trophy, but results are unavailable at this time.

The Truxtun Umsted Intersectional is the largest regatta during the spring season. During the regatta, 20 of the toughest teams from around the country competed in four divisions of boats, more than the usual two divisions. The regatta, which was hosted by Navy, took place at one of the most impressive venues in the nation. The facility includes the Intercollegiate Sailing Association Hall of Fame and boasts enough boats to have four fleets of different types of boats on the water simultaneously. A and B divisions rotated between sailing the doublehanded 420s and FJs while C division sailed in the Olympic class Laser and D division sailed in the Olympic class Laser Radial. Because of the large number of boats on the water at once, the trapezoid course was used, which includes an upwind leg, a reach leg, a downwind leg and a final upwind leg to the finish. This course, instead of the normal collegiate windward-leeward course, allows multiple fleets of boats to same at the same time on the same course and includes sailing on a reach, a point of sail not often sailed on in college racing.

The Bulldogs were able to take all of the factors that made the regatta both unique and competitive and use it to their advantage. The Bulldogs eventually took second in the event with 420 points, only trailing No. 1 Georgetown, who finished with 372 points. The event, because of the four divisions of competition, required the schools to have good team depth and expertise in a variety of boats. If only the results from doublehanded boats were included, like most collegiate events, the Bulldogs would have still done well, tying for second with No. 3 Boston College. The second-place finish at the event is the highest for the Bulldogs since at least 1996. Of the 20 teams in action at the event, 15 were ranked in the top 20 nationally.

The sailors faced light to moderate winds during the entire regatta. Saturday started off with a light wind that turned glassy, causing a postponement in racing to be taken after only one race. After around a one-and-half hour break, a light wind filled in again and racing got underway in a between four-and-seven knot breeze. Seven more races were completed in each division on Saturday. On the first day of competition, the water was fairly flat and sailing took place off the sea wall at Navy in the Chesapeake, making for very good spectating. On Sunday, the sailors arrived to a light and unstable wind. Two races were completed in each division before the sailors again had to stop racing because numerous wind shifts were making the racing unfair. The teams then waited ashore until a new breeze filled in. The new wind, which was the strongest of the weekend, included hiking conditions at times, but gradually died as the day went on. Sunday had choppy water conditions as waves would hit the sea wall off of the facility and then reverberate back onto the race course, making sailing fairly tricky.

Still, the team performed very well in the tough conditions, with each division of boats having at least one good day of competition. With the competition lasting 17 races in each division, the team had time to recover from poor races and get a strong streak going, an important skill in major regattas.

The team was led in B division by the second-place finish by freshman skipper Joseph Morris and senior crew Grace Becton. They scored 84 points over the course of the regatta, missing out on winning B division by only 9 points. While Morris and Becton were very consistent throughout the entire regatta, they especially did well on the final day of competition, having six consecutive races in the top four. Over the two days of competition, they had seven races in the top three and only one race, the last race of competition, outside the top half. Morris and Becton won two races. The regatta was a homecoming of sorts for Morris, who is an Annapolis, Md. native and attended high school at the Severn School. The winning skipper in B division, Georgetown's Evan Aras, was one of Morris' high school teammates at the Severn School.

Morris, who won the Mallory Trophy for the high school national championships at the Navy venue, felt that he improved over the course of the event and found that sailing the high school nationals at the same venue was helpful.

"I think that on Saturday, we had some mediocre starting, but we worked on that and on Sunday we had better starts, which allowed us to do very well," Morris said. "We had good downwind speed. We were able to focus more on our speed than other teams because they were paying attention to other parts of their races more, so we were able to surf the waves more often. I didn't really feel that I had an advantage sailing in Annapolis because I grew up there as I usually sailed in a different area, but it helped having sailed high school nationals there last year as it gave me some experience and confidence in the conditions. Sailing the trapezoid courses was interesting and put a premium on starts because of the small reaches and short second upwind legs. It made small gains more important, which helped us. It was also nice to get some reaching in, as we normally don't do that in college."

The Bulldogs also did very well in D division, sailed in Laser Radials. Junior Sarah Lihan, who has been a member of the U.S. Sailing Team in the class, took third with 91 points. While Lihan started off with a tough few tough races, she soon started to get in a strong rhythm as the wind got breezier and never finished outside the top nine boats in the final 13 races of the regatta. Lihan had a very hot streak going on the second day, taking a second and third before winning the next two races. Altogether, Lihan won three races, including the final race of the regatta, and had 10 finishes in the top five.

Freshman Cameron Cullman also had a good regatta in C division, sailed in the Laser class. Cullman, who won the U.S. Youth Championships in the boat, finished in fifth with 110 points. His 110 points placed him just five points behind No. 6 College of Charleston's Juan Maegli, who represented Guatemala at the 2008 Olympics in the Laser class. Cullman especially had a very strong first day of competition, leading the field after the first day of competition. Cullman was very consistent on the first day of competition and never finished outside the top five on the Saturday. He ended the regatta with nine top five finishes.

In A division, junior captain Thomas Barrows and sophomore crew Blair Belling turned in a strong performance to take sixth with 135 points. The duo was especially strong on Saturday, sitting in second after the first eight races. They had one very hot streak going, placing in the top four in four straight races. The duo ended with one win and six races in the top five.

Barrows was pleased with the performances, but sees that he and Belling have some areas to improve on. Still, though, he is pleased with the regatta.

"I felt that we had good boat speed during the regatta," Barrows said. " We need to work on getting betting starts and not making small mistakes. Except for a few big point finishes, we would have done very well. Joseph Morris did very well, so it is nice to know we have two good divisions in dinghies. It was nice to see our hard work from the past two weeks [spring break training] pay off. We have a lot of hard work and improvement to do, but it was still a good performance. We have been sailing for two weeks straight, so we were probably tired, but we were mechanically where we need to be. I think that personally I need to work on starting as I should not have any over early performances, which hurt me this weekend."

The team will next be in competition at the Owen, Mosbacher and Knapp Trophy for the Ivy League Championship, the Boston Dinghy Club Cup and Southern Series Two. All the regattas will take place on Saturday and Sunday.

Report filed by Caleb Dorfman '09, Yale Sports Publicity