June 2, 2009
SAN FRANCISCO - The No. 3 Bulldog coed sailing team moved up into second place at the ICSA/Gill Coed Dinghy National Championships during competition on Tuesday. The Bulldogs, who spent part of the day in the lead after closing a large gap from third to second place, are only seven points out of the regatta lead, which is currently held by No. 4 St. Mary's College of Maryland. The team will wrap up competition on Wednesday with four more races in A and B divisions.
The breeze again started out light in the morning before building as the day went on. Again, it was important for the Bulldogs to look around the course for the best wind while balancing the current, which switched from an ebb to a flood tide during the course of the day. By the last sets of the day, boats would frequently come just feet from shore on the upwind legs to get current relief, while tending to the right side of the course on the downwind legs to take advantage of the strong current pushing the boats towards the gate and finish line. The day started out with some clouds and fog shrouding the top of the Golden Gate Bridge, but sun came along with the afternoon's increased wind velocity, creating terrific viewing at one of America's most famous sailing locations, San Francisco By.
The Bulldogs are currently in a strong position to have the team's best finish in years. The Bulldogs. Who currently sit in second place with 137 points over the 14 races in each division, have not finished better than third since 1981. St. Mary's has 130 points while No. 1 Georgetown sits in third with 184 points.
In A division, junior captain Thomas Barrows and crews sophomore Blair Belling and junior Marla Menninger have turned in an impressive performance, leading A division at the toughest regatta of the year. The trio has tallied 54 points over the 14 races, with only one finish outside the top half. The team went on an impressive run today, never finishing outside the top five and finishing either first or second in the 18-team fleet in four of the six races.
One of the most impressive features of the A division performance was the manner in which the wins came. The trio struggled with starting in a number of the races, ducking much of the fleet soon after the start. The team, however, was able to use incredible upwind and downwind speed to soon get back into the races and tally top-tier finishes. A combination of good speed and solid tactical decisions, such as correctly playing the current and deciding how to manage the fleet, has allowed the Bulldogs to recover in a number of races after tough starts or after taking penalty turns.
The B division trio of freshman skipper Joseph Morris and crews junior Michael Hession and senior Grace Becton were also stellar during Tuesday's competition. They currently sit in third with 83 points. St. Mary's currently leads with 61 points. They too have been consistent, only having one finish outside the top half. In today's action, the trio turned in four top four finishes, including a victory in the ninth race of the regatta. The Bulldogs in B division also have had terrific speed, especially on the downwind legs, when they have frequently been able to make large gains through both speed and tactical decisions. The team has improved on its starting ability, but successfully came back from a number of second row starts.
The assistant coach for the Bulldogs, Bill Healy, was pleased with the team's performance.
"The sailing was fantastic and both divisions performed really well, Healy said. "The current was really difficult and staying in phase with the adverse current at the end of the day was key."
Four races remain in the regatta, which is being sailed in FJs and is being hosted by No. 14 Stanford and St. Francis Yacht Club on San Francisco Bay. Competition will resume on Wednesday at 11 a.m.
Live coverage of the event through interviews is available here. As well, it is possible to follow the coverage live on the event blog, which is available here. Complete results and the ability to send notes to the competing teams is available here.
Report filed by Caleb Dorfman '09, Yale Sports Publicity