No. 3 Bulldogs Successful Singlehanded and Doublehanded

Emily Billing and Margot Benedict.
Emily Billing and Margot Benedict.

Bulldogs Prove They Can Handle Anything

NEW LONDON, Conn.— The No. 3 Bulldogs had an extremely successful weekend with two members of the team qualifying for the Singlehanded National Championships and the rest of the team taking home the win at the Women's Finger Lakes Intersectional.  The Bulldogs perfectly proved that they are a team to beat in both singlehanded and doublehanded regattas.

The Bulldogs, known for their prowess in the Laser Radial, continued the tradition this weekend at the New England Singlehanded Championships hosted by Mitchell College at the junction of the Thames River and the Long Island Sound. A trip to St Petersburg, Fla., in November was on the line, with the top five finishers earning a spot at the National Singlehanded Championships hosted by the South Atlantic Intercollegiate Sailing Association at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club Nov. 6-7.

Sophomores Emily Billing and Claire Dennis represented the Bulldogs at the New England Championships. Both sailors are extremely experienced in the Laser Radial having sailed the boat for numerous years, traveling the globe to compete in regattas. Dennis is on the US Sailing Alphagraphics Team and both sailors have been on the US Development Team. Both Billing and Dennis qualified for the National Singlehanded Championships in 2009.

The races were mostly sailed closer to the river, providing extremely shifty conditions. Throughout the weekend, the conditions were also quite puffy as often occurs on a river. Sunday brought heavier breeze, building to 20-25 knots by the end, which meant that the speed of recovery from capsizes determined finishes.

Billing said, "The most important part of the weekend was to remain patient and to sail the shifts rather than immediately reacting to all of the little changes."

After a brief hiatus from Laser sailing, Billing came back onto the scene with a very consistent weekend putting her in fourth place at the end of the regatta. Her highest finish was ninth and she finished in the top five in 10 of the 14 races. She also took the win in the 10th race of the regatta.

Dennis had a bit of a rough start to the weekend but came back with a vengeance to claim the fifth and final qualifying spot for the National Championships. She also finished in the top five in 10 of the 14 races. She had a strong finish with a win in race nine and race 14, the final race of the regatta.

Although there were only 14 sailors, the fleet was extremely tight. Billing finished a mere 12 points in back of winner Elizabeth Barry of Brown while Dennis was only 21 points back. The New England region has some of the best Laser Radial sailors in the country. Boston College's Anne Haeger, the 2009 National Singlehanded Champion, finished second with Krysta Rohde of the Coast Guard Academy in third. All five sailors will be favorites at the National Championship.

While Billing and Dennis were sailing solo, the rest of the Bulldogs were attempting to stay warm at Hobart William Smith at the Women's Finger Lakes Intersectional. The cool temperatures did not hinder the Bulldogs as they took the win by 36 points, an impressive feat considering only 20 races were sailed.

The regatta was held in Geneva, N.Y. on the north end of Seneca Lake, which is the largest of the Finger Lakes. Due to its size, sailing on Seneca Lake is often more like sailing on the coast than on a lake, which was an advantage for the Bulldogs. On Saturday, the regatta was slowed by inconsistent breeze. Some races were sailed in far from optimal conditions and many starts were abandoned. Eventually, the breeze filled in and picked up.

Junior Stephanie Schuyler commented that there were, "fairly short courses with at most one big shift per beat so it was important to be able to get to it."

Sunday also provided some strong breeze, even causing whitecaps on the lake at points. At the beginning of the day, the bottom of the course had lefties while the top of the course had righties. However, as the day progressed the breeze shifted all the way to the right and continued to build.

Schuyler said, "It was important to notice the patterns and also be able to gauge downwind whether it would pay off to go low or whether you had to stay high."

Junior Genoa Warner commented, "Marlena (Fauer) and I started almost every race two or three from the pin. We just did our best with the shifts and sailed fast."

The Bulldogs certainly sailed fast leaving many of the nine other teams far behind. In A division, freshmen Fauer and Eugenia Custo Grieg finished second, only one point out of first, continuing their fantastic first collegiate season. Their highest finish was fourth and they won four of the 10 races.

Warner and Schuyler dominated B division. They won seven of the 10 races with a highest finish of fifth. They won B division by 13 points.

Next weekend, the Bulldogs will travel down to Annapolis, Md. for the Navy Women's Fall Intersectional. Navy Women's is one of the top regattas of the fall season and will provide the Bulldogs with the opportunity to compare themselves to the top teams in the country.

Report filed by Margot Benedict '12, Yale Sports Publicity