Long Week of Training in Florida Prepares No. 1 Bulldogs For Second Regatta of the Spring

Dennis and Benedict flatten out of a roll tack during a day of practice in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Dennis and Benedict flatten out of a roll tack during a day of practice in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Favorable Weather Conditions During The Past Week Have Allowed The Team To Sail Hard For Six Days Straight

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The No. 1 Yale women's sailing team has been practicing in St. Petersburg, Fla., since March fourth, the beginning of Yale's two-week spring recess.  Last year the Bulldogs also spent their break in St. Pete training with the University of South Florida Bulls, but the team reports that this year was especially "productive."  At a team meeting after practice on Thursday, varsity head coach and McNay Family Director of Sailing, Zachary Leonard '89, remarked that the sailors and coaches had "accomplished everything that [they] were looking to accomplish" during their Florida training sessions.  Now the team is headed back north for the weekend to compete at the Navy Women's Spring Interconference Regatta, hosted by the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

Often when the sailing team goes on its annual spring break training trip it tends to lose a day or so of practice due to uncooperative weather (e.g. lack of wind).  However, this year Mother Nature was more than cooperative and nothing prevented the Bulldogs from sailing twice a day for six days straight.  In the past, training that much for that amount of time would have likely resulted in diminishing productivity due to exhaustion, but this year, despite minimal breaks in the practice routine, the team was able to sustain a high level of focus.  During the team's sixth day on the water, freshman team member Kate Gaummond expressed how, "surprisingly, [she] never really got tired of sailing" day after day. 

The team's higher level of stamina can likely be attributed to the physical training regimen which it instated this past fall and carried on through the winter off-season.  Also, Gaummond agreed that when the sun is out, the water is warm and the wind is good, it is not too difficult to get excited about another day of sailing.  Not to mention, the team was sailing brand new boats which the University of South Florida had not even sailed themselves prior to Yale's arrival. 

After such a successful week of training, the Bulldogs may be hesitant to leave Florida's nice weather, but they are definitely ready to get back to competition.  Four members of the team will represent Yale at the regatta at the Naval Academy this weekend. 

In A division, junior skipper Claire Dennis and senior crew Margot Benedict look to carry their success from last weekend into this weekend.  Last weekend Dennis and Benedict finished second out of 15 boats in A division at the Eckerd Intersectional.  The only team to beat them was an all-male crew from the Coast Guard Academy which arguably had an unfair weight and strength advantage in the heavy wind which most races were held in. 

Representing the Bulldogs in B division this weekend will be junior skipper and team captain Emily Billing along with sophomore crew Amanda Salvesen.  Although sailing separately last weekend, both Billing and Salvesen are also looking to continue strong results.  By finishing third in B division at the Charleston Women's Interconference Regatta, Billing helped Yale to finish second place overall.  Salvesen also finished third in B division but at the Eckerd Intersectional, a coed regatta, where an all-female Yale team took third overall.

Winds in Annapolis are forecasted to be around five miles per hour for most of the weekend.  Temperatures in the 40s on Saturday could be a shock for the Bulldogs who have gotten used to 70-80 degrees, but a high of 59 is predicted for Sunday. 

After racing concludes Sunday, the women's sailing team will get four days off to spend some of their spring break as they choose before returning to Maryland for a regatta hosted by St. Mary's College of Maryland next weekend.

Report filed by Chris Segerblom '14, Yale Sports Publicity