September 29, 2011

Yale to Host New England Singlehanded Championship This Weekend

No. 1 Bulldogs Looking to Set Themselves Up to Defend the National Title 

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Every year the Inter-collegiate Sailing Association (ICSA), the governing body for college sailing, holds a national championship for each of the four primary disciplines in the sport.  These disciplines include double-handed dinghy fleet racing, double-handed dinghy team racing, singlehanded dinghy racing and sloops match racing.  Each of these championships requires qualification and for teams qualifying means securing one of the limited berths from each ICSA district by finishing well enough at one's respective district championship.  This weekend the No. 1 Yale women's sailing team will host the New England Singlehanded Championship, which acts as the New England district qualifier for the ICSA Women's Singlehanded Nationals, the first of the four national championships on the calendar.    

Not only will Yale be hosting the New England Championship, but the Bulldogs also stand as the defending singlehanded national champions.  Last year, as a sophomore, Yale skipper Claire Dennis took first-place at the nationals when they were in St. Petersburg, Fla.  Dennis has a great deal of experience in laser radials, which is the designated women's singlehanded class for not only the collegiate championships, but also the Olympics.  She trained as a member of the US Sailing Alphagraphics Olympic Team for several years. 

In addition to winning last year, the Bulldogs also took home fourth.  Then also a sophomore, Yale skipper Emily Billing finished fourth at the Nationals in St. Petersburg.  Like Dennis, she also has a large amount of experience in the laser radial as she used to train with the US Sailing Olympic Development Team.  In fact, although both clearly qualified last year, Billing happens to have beaten Dennis at the 2010 New England Championship. 

In 2010 Yale was the only school in the country to have two sailors finish in the top five at the nationals.  This year the Bulldogs hope to send just as many team members or more to Chicago where the 2011 national championship is to be held.  Five sailors from the New England district will get to represent their teams at the nationals and those five will be determined by the top-five finishers at the regatta this weekend.  Both Dennis and Billing, now juniors, are returning to the New Englands with intentions of qualifying.  In addition, Yale freshman Urska Kosir will also be vying for a qualifying spot.  Lasers are nothing new to Kosir seeing as she was the Laser 4.7 World Champion in 2009.  Despite the letters "SLO" that could be read on her sail when she represented Slovenia at the Worlds, clearly Kosir is anything but slow in a laser.

With an abundance of laser experience and the qualifier on their home waters, the Bulldogs have lots of potential for another successful singlehanded season.  All they need to do this weekend is get themselves to the nationals by finishing in the top five.  Follow Dennis, Billing and Kosir in the results on TechScore as they compete for three of five national championship berths. 

Report filed by Chris Segerblom '14, Yale Sports Publicity