Women's Sailing Continues to Prove That it is a Top Team
Annapolis, Md.– After a week of pure, productive practice down in sunny St. Petersburg, Fla., the No. 4 Yale women's sailing team made their way back up north to race in their second regatta of the season at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. Although not quite Florida weather, Annapolis provided temperatures in the 50s and stellar breeze for the Navy Women's Spring Intersectional.
After 10 races in each division on Saturday, the Bulldogs stood third overall. On Sunday the 18 competing teams returned to the Severn River for eight more races and the Bulldogs were able to hold onto that third-place position until the end. Saturday morning saw light and shifty winds ranging from five to eight knots, but after lunch the breeze shifted left slightly and increased to nearly 20 knots. While still shifty, the size of the waves also increased as the wind built. On Sunday morning, blessed by the wind gods, the racers were greeted by a building northwesterly which held in the 15 knot range for the remainder of the regatta.
Sophomore skipper Emily Billing, who raced in A division for the Bulldogs along with junior crew Margot Benedict, said that the weekend "was all about trying to adjust for the different conditions and fighting back through the fleet when mistakes were made". This is a college sailing truism. Because sailors are not able to discard any of their worst races, like in many other levels of racing, consistency is always the name of the game. Also, everyone makes mistakes so the most consistent sailors are generally those who first minimize mistakes and then cope with them best when they occur. Just as it is important to work hard to try to hit all the right shifts, it is equally important for a team to immediately look forward to passing as many boats as possible when they have missed an important shift. Billing and Benedict's fourth place finish in A division proves that they were able to cope with the tricky conditions better than most of the 18 boat fleet.
The Yale freshman team of skipper Marlena Fauer and crew Eugenia Custo Greig also gave a strong showing by finishing third in B division. Their consistency improved as the weekend went on and at one point they even strung together three first-place finishes in a row.
Finally, the Naval Academy has a large fleet of both 420s and FJs which allows for both A and B division to be on the water at once. For this event, A division sailed the first 9 races in FJs while B division sailed 420s. At halfway the two divisions switched and A division sailed 420s while B division sailed FJs for the remainder of the event. This is a relatively minor variable, but it is true that the sailors who are better able to transition between boat types are likely to have more consistent results.
Overall, the Yale women showed mental and physical stamina in the difficult conditions. Their fight-for-every-boat mentality helped them to record another top-three overall finish early in the season. They will be looking to keep up the consistency next weekend at the St. Mary's Women's Intersectional, hosted by St. Mary's College of Maryland.
Report filed by Chris Segerblom '14, Yale Sports Publicity