May 31, 2009
SAN FRANCISCO - The No. 3 Bulldog coed sailing team knew that they were capable of making the Final Four at the ICSA/APS Team Racing National Championship after a rough first day and went out and did just that on Sunday morning. Then, with a chance at the national title on the line, the Bulldogs went out and continued to sail strongly, but came up just short, taking fourth in the nation, the team's highest finish since 2007.
The road to the Final Four of the ICSA/APS Team Race National Championship was a long one, but the Bulldogs used every opportunity on the way to improve. The team qualified for the National Championships at the New England Intercollegiate Sailing Association (NEISA) Team Racing Championships by taking second, behind only No. 2 Boston College, the eventual National Champions in team racing. The Bulldogs then had an initial round of six races in Group One action, before advancing on to the Gold Championship Round of Eight, which included the top eight teams at the regatta.
The Bulldogs started off competition today with perhaps one of the most important races of the regatta. The Bulldogs needed to perform strongly in the second Gold Championship Round of Eight in order to have a good enough record to make it to the Final Four, comprised of the teams with the four best records between the first and second Gold Championship Rounds of Eight. The team started off against No. 1 Georgetown, in a race that had to be re-sailed today after the Bulldogs defeated Georgetown before having their victory overturned in a redress hearing. The Bulldogs found themselves behind early on in the race, but sailed well downwind to get back in the game. Then, at the leeward mark, the Bulldogs, started to get ahead in the race, finalizing the win right at the finish line. This win was a critical step for the Bulldogs to getting into the Final Four as it gave the team momentum going into the final races of the Gold Championship Round of Eight.
After the Georgetown race, the Bulldogs continued to sail well in the light air and flat water conditions. The team finished with wins over No. 1 Georgetown, No. 4 St. Mary's College of Maryland, No. 9 Harvard, No. 13 SUNY Maritime and No. 14 Stanford while only dropping races to Boston College and No. 5 College of Charleston. This left the Bulldogs with eight wins between the two Gold Championship Round of Eight competitions. This was one more win than College of Charleston and good enough to earn the Bulldogs a place in the Final Four along with Boston College (11 wins), St. Mary's College of Maryland (10 wins) and Georgetown (9 wins).
A spot in the Final Four was a large improvement for the team after missing making the National Championships last year. With a spot in the Final Four secured, the team guaranteed themselves a finish no worse than fourth. In 2007, the Bulldogs took second at the National Championships while the team took seventh in 2006. The team, though, still had a chance to win its first-ever Team Racing National Championship.
Following a short lunch break, the Bulldogs headed out to race in their first of three races in the Final Four. The Bulldogs faced Boston College to start off the Final Four. While the team started strongly, controlling the race off of the start line, the light air allowed the Eagles to get back into the race and eventually pass the Bulldogs to take the first win of the Final Four.
The Bulldogs were able to bounce back, though. In their second race of the Final Four, the Bulldogs defeated the Seahawks from St. Mary's with a 1, 2, 6 combination. This put the Bulldogs back onto the winning. In the following race, Boston College defeated Georgetown to give the Eagles the overall National Championship.
This, however, left the Bulldogs in a high-pressure situation. The Bulldogs had one more race remaining, against Georgetown. Whichever team won this final race would take third overall in the regatta while the loser of the race would take fourth in the regatta. The team came up just short, losing to Georgetown, but still captured fourth place in the regatta. The team finished with a 9-8 record.
The future for the team looks bright. All three of the skippers in the regatta, juniors captain Thomas Barrows, John Kempton and freshman Joseph Morris, will return next year. This means that the Bulldogs could be set to have one of their strongest years yet. Crewing for the Bulldogs in the event were seniors Grace Becton and Adriane Levin, juniors Michael Hession and Marla Menninger and sophomore Blair Belling. With six of the eight sailors that raced in the regatta returning next year, experience will be on the team's side.
The Bulldogs will start off competition at the ICSA/Gill Coed Dinghy National Championships on Monday morning.
Report filed by Caleb Dorfman '09, Yale Sports Publicity