April 20, 2012

Bulldogs to Race for New England Title and a Spot at the Nationals

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – This weekend the Yale women's sailing team, currently ranked No. 4 in the nation, will race to keep its season alive.  The Bulldogs will be competing against 17 other schools at the New England Championship, which serves as the district's qualifier for the ICSA Women's National Championship.  At the end of the weekend, seven New England teams will move on.  The top two teams will earn themselves nonstop tickets to the nationals while the third through seventh place teams will have to race at the ICSA Women's Semifinal Regatta to secure nationals berths.

The New England Championship is to be hosted by Boston College out of Savin Hill Yacht Club in Dorchester, Mass.  A and B division will switch between a fleet of FJs and a fleet of 420s, meaning that both divisions will be on the water at the same time and the race committee should be able to complete a lot of races, assuming the weather cooperates.

Forecasts are calling for wind speeds of 10 to 20 miles per hour out of the south on Saturday and five to 10 miles per hour out of the north on Sunday.  The chance of rain is "likely." 

Last weekend, the Yale women's sailing team had its worst result of the season at the Emily Wick Trophy in New London, Conn., but the Bulldogs sound determined to be on their game this weekend.  When asked about what the team's focus is this week in practice to prepare for the championship, sophomore skipper Marlena Fauer said that she has personally been "working on [her] starts and getting off the line cleanly and consistently." 

"Everyone has their individual goals," she added, "and if we all work hard in the next two days, we will be able to have our best result." 

Fauer is just one of eight Yale sailors that will be traveling to the Women's New England Championship with the team this weekend.  Joining her will be senior crew Margot Benedict, junior skipper Emily Billing, sophomore crew Eugenia Custo Greig, junior skipper Claire Dennis, freshman skipper Morgan Kiss, freshman crew Urska Kosir and sophomore crew Amanda Salvesen.  Of course, eight people is twice as many as can race in a two-division event at one time, but in a two-day regatta  with potentially 18 races and varying wind conditions, the ability to substitute can be necessary for achieving the best results.

The high number of skippers and crews that Yale will be sending to this weekend's regatta attests to the deep pool of talent that the Bulldogs have, but Kiss also acknowledges that having so many good sailors can be burdensome at times.  When asked about her thoughts leading up to the weekend, Kiss said, "I just hope that our team's rotations go smoothly."  She proceeded to discuss the psychological dynamic involved with subbing athletes in and out. 

"You don't want to psych out the person you are pulling out or the person that you are putting in," she said.    

As a testament to how balanced the Bulldogs roster is, the coaches have yet to announce the team's starting lineup for the weekend.  However, the Bulldogs have proven their ability to manage a deep roster before.  They won the Atlantic Coast Championship in the fall with all eight of their sailors racing over the course of the two day event. 

Top two is the ultimate goal for this weekend since that would guarantee the Bulldogs a berth at the nationals.  If the team sails like it has for most of the year, the way that kept the Bulldogs ranked No. 1 in the country for six months straight, then that goal is most definitely achievable.  Anywhere in the top seven will keep the Bulldogs' season alive though.  Last year they finished fourth at the New England Championship and went on to win the ICSA Semifinals to qualify for nationals. 

Report filed by Chris Segerblom '14, Yale Sports Publicity