Bulldogs Take Close Second at Nationals

Competitors race upwind at the 2012 ICSA Women's National Championship in Austin, Texas.
Competitors race upwind at the 2012 ICSA Women's National Championship in Austin, Texas.

AUSTIN, Texas – After 13 races over the course of three hot days on Lake Travis, the final results of the ICSA Women's National Championship are finally in.   At the 18-school regatta, the Yale women's sailing team, previously ranked No. 3 in the nation, took second place overall, just four points behind the victorious Boston College Eagles.      

It all came down to the final race in B division, which Yale actually won.  Aware that the points were close, freshmen Morgan Kiss and Urska Kosir got a strong start just to leeward of the Boston College boat and after eliminating the Eagles' lane they went on to win the race.  That start put the Eagles behind early and made it seem, for a while, like the Bulldogs might overcome the Eagles' 8-point lead to take first in the overall standings.  However, Boston College ground its way back to a fifth place finish in that race to secure the national title.

Such a race was no doubt suspenseful to watch from the Lake Travis shoreline, as a coach or even just a fan, but one can only imagine the pressure the athletes must have been feeling on the water.  Going into the final race, four different schools—Boston College, the University of Rhode Island, Yale and Georgetown University— were all in contention to win the regatta. 

If Kiss was feeling pressure though, she did not necessarily show it during the race, nor afterwards in an interview.  When asked about what thoughts were going through her head just prior to the start of the final race, Kiss said confidently that she and Kosir "were not sure of the exact points, but [they] knew they could pull out the win if the race went well enough".  This was true and the race almost did go the Bulldogs way. 

Had Boston College not been able to recover from their poor start, then the Bulldogs would be national champions.  However, instead of being frustrated with the fact that her first place finish was not quite good enough to pull off the win, Kiss recognized that the Boston College sailors "did what they needed to do" and praised them on their recovery as well as on their impressive regatta performance as a whole.     

Boston College led in the standings for the majority of the event, while Yale started slower but steadily climbed up the results page throughout the regatta.  After day one, with four races completed in A division and just two in B division, the Bulldogs sat sixth overall.  Then, after four more races in B and two more in A on day two, the Bulldogs moved up to fourth.  Finally, the last day of racing saw the most wind of the regatta and, after seven more races in each division, the Bulldogs jumped up two places again, to finish second.

Sophomore Marlena Fauer, who skippered in A division for the Bulldogs throughout the championship, reported that she and her crew, sophomore Eugenia Custo Greig, were "happy that [they] were able to finish strong".  They went out and had two third-place finishes in the final A division set before officially passing the team's fate into the hands of Kiss and Kosir in B division.  Fauer and Custo Greig ultimately tied for sixth in the A division standings, but lost the tie-breaker. 

As mentioned, Kiss and Kosir finished strong in B division as well.  In fact, their win in the final race was the grand finale to a dominant overall B-division performance by the two freshmen.  The young duo sailed 10 out of the 13 races for the Bulldogs and only finished outside of the top three in one of them.  In the end, Yale won B division by a commanding 26 points. 

Every year, after completion of the final race at nationals, the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association (ICSA) holds an awards banquet for the competing teams.  This year the University of Rhode Island Rams, last year's national champions, were awarded for finishing third with 150 total points, the Yale Bulldogs were awarded second with 146 points and the Boston College Eagles were awarded first with 142 points. 

In addition to teams being awarded for their national championship finishes, a select number of individual sailors are awarded ICSA All-American honors for their year-long performances.  This year, three members of the Yale women's sailing team—junior skipper Emily Billing, Fauer and Kiss— were named first team All-Americans.

The 2011-2012 collegiate women's sailing season is now officially over, but some members of Yale's women's sailing team will be remaining in Texas, waiting to join the Yale coed sailing team on Tuesday morning.  The 2012 ICSA Coed Dinghy Nationals are schedule to begin at 9 a.m. on Wednesday June 6 and the No. 3 Yale coed sailing team will be looking to end its season in a strong fashion similar to that of the women's team.

Report filed by Chris Segerblom '14, Yale Sports Publicity