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No. 1 Bulldogs Find Sunshine and Success in Texas

Sarah Lihan. Photo by Chris Love
Sarah Lihan. Photo by Chris Love

Bulldogs Finish Second, Fourth and Seventh at Singlehanded Nationals

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas- The No. 1 Bulldogs sailed with dolphins and acquired sunburns while taking three of the top seven spots at the ICSA Singlehanded National Championships hosted by the Corpus Christi Yacht Club in Corpus Christi, Tex. Freshman Claire Dennis finished in second, senior Sarah Lihan finished fourth and freshman Emily Billing finished seventh. As per tradition, Yale showed its dominance in the Laser Radial.

While Corpus Christi is widely touted as one of the windiest coastal cities in North America, one would not have concluded such a fact from this weekend’s racing. The big breeze that many were hoping for did not show its face, but fortunately there was enough wind to complete all of the 18 races that were planned.

Friday dawned with copious amounts of sunshine. The same could not be said for the wind however, which hovered around five knots for the first two races. In the third and fourth races the breeze built to around seven knots only to fall to under five knots in the fifth and final race of the day. Unlike many college sailing venues, Corpus Christi is on open water, which adds the variable of waves and chop. This became frustrating on Friday when the chop was a big factor due to the lack of breeze.

Saturday began just as Friday with light wind of four to five knots and sunshine. However, unlike Friday the breeze built throughout the day allowing organizers to get off 11 races. For the first four races the breeze lingered around five knots before building to eight knots by the fifth race of the day (race 10 of the regatta). For the last six races of the day the breeze continued to build making Corpus Christi’s big breeze reputation seem closer to the truth. By the last race of the day (race 16 of the regatta), the breeze had built to 13 knots.

There was plenty of breeze on Sunday for the final two races of the regatta but rain replaced the beautiful sunshine that had provided all of the sailors, particularly those from colder regions like the Northeast, a bit of tanning time. While the sun disappeared, the chop remained.

Dennis had a fantastic weekend finishing a mere six points behind winner Annie Haeger of Boston College with 73 points. Dennis won three races, including the final race of the regatta. She was quite consistent, finishing in the top five in 13 of the 18 races and never finishing outside of the top 10. Lihan was also able to stay within the top-ten finishers all weekend, finishing fourth overall with 92 points. She won two races and had 10 top-five finishes. Billing rounded out the impressive showing by the Yale women finishing in seventh with 135 points. She had five top-five finishes and finished in the top 10 in 14 out of 18 races.

Billing, Dennis and Lihan all came to college with success in the Laser Radial and certainly exhibited their strengths this weekend. For a school to qualify three sailors for the National Championships is a feat in and of itself and to have those three sailors finish in the top half of the fleet is unheard of. The Bulldogs certainly lived up to their number one ranking. The strong results of the three teammates and longtime friends are the product of many years of hard work, particularly these past few weeks. Yale fans also have a lot to look forward to over the next three years, as two of the three Bulldogs competing this weekend are freshmen.

Next weekend the Bulldogs will reunite with their crews in 420s at the 23rd Atlantic Coast Championships hosted by Brown.

Report filed by Margot Benedict ’12, Yale Sports Publicity