NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Despite the wrath of Hurricane Sandy, senior members of the Yale women's sailing team Emily Billing and Claire Dennis were back on the water on Wednesday to practice. It was their last opportunity to sail before the ICSA Women's Singlehanded Championship, which they will compete at this weekend in Long Beach, Calif.
Billing and Dennis qualified for the singlehanded nationals back in September by finishing fourth and third, respectively, at the New England Women's Singlehanded Championship. Both sailors are looking to cap off their very successful college singlehanded sailing careers with a strong finish in Long Beach.
The nationals will be sailed in laser radials, the principal women's singlehanded class at both the collegiate and the international level.
Not only do Billing and Dennis both have extensive experience in the laser radial, but they also have a long history of training together in the boats. Prior to coming to Yale, both sailors were teammates on the US Sailing Olympic Development Team in the radial class. While singlehanded sailing is inherently an individual effort, success in the discipline still requires a level of team effort. Billing and Dennis have been pushing each other since early on in their careers and their results in collegiate singlehanded racing prove how valuable that relationship has been.
Fifteen races were sailed at last year's nationals in Chicago, yet Billing and Dennis ultimately finished only eight points apart. Dennis took second and Billing took third.
Dennis, who also finished second at the nationals her freshman year and won the event her sophomore year, reported that she feels well-prepared for this year. She said that she is "just focused on sailing a smart regatta and doing the best [she] can in the conditions."
"I am happy that we had a lot of light wind to practice in recently," said Dennis. Long Beach tends to be a relatively light-wind racing venue during this time of year.
Billing has also had a successful series of results at the singlehanded nationals. She finished seventh her freshman year, fourth her sophomore year and third last year. If the trend of improvement continues, she is sure to find herself on the podium again this year.
According to Billing, who reported while standing in line to board her plane to California, "we worked hard to get here and both of us are going in with a positive mindset."
The Bulldogs, along with their two coaches Thomas Barrows '10 and William Healy, are scheduled to arrive in Long Beach early this evening. This should allow them plenty of time to get a good night's sleep before tomorrow's racing begins. Eighteen races, wind permitting, are scheduled for the event. The results can be followed online by following this link.
Report filed by Chris Segerblom '14, Yale Sports Publicity