April 23, 2009
NEW LONDON, Conn. - The No. 1 Bulldog women's sailing team will compete in the 43rd Women's New England Championships this weekend on Lake Champlain in Burlington, Vt. Competition will include the best teams in the New England Intercollegiate Sailing Association district including No. 3 Boston College, No. 4 Harvard and No. 6 Brown. The Bulldogs have had a remarkable season so far this year, taking a top-four finish at every regular season competition.
The New England Championships is a critical regatta for the Bulldogs as it is the only qualifying event for the ICSA Women's National Championships on May 25-27 in San Francisco, Calif. The top five teams from the New England Championships will qualify for the national championships. Given the Bulldogs' record this spring, a top-five finish is well within reach, but will not come without a challenge from deep squads like Harvard, Brown, Boston College and Connecticut College. The Bulldogs report that the competition has been tough this spring with tight racing and deep fleets in both divisions. Senior Jane Macky gave a preview of the A-Division competition.
"In A division I think Megan Watson from Harvard had a really tight game this past weekend, and she has always been good but not so consistent -- she really switched it on this past weekend so I think she will be one to watch if she can put it all together again. Also, Connecticut College, Brown, BC and Roger Williams can all be quite good if they get their conditions up in Vermont."
So far this season the women have shown depth, experience and superior mental toughness by consistently placing in the top three teams at regattas featuring a wide range of conditions and competition. Highlights include wins at the Women's Dellenbaugh Trophy at Brown and the Emily Wick/Sloop Shrew Trophy at Coast Guard, as well as second place at the extremely competitive Navy Spring intersectional and third place at the St. Mary's Spring intersectional.
Besides excellent racing on the weekends, the Bulldogs feel prepared for the competition this weekend. Macky reflects on both team and individual boat preparation.
"We have put in a lot of hard work this season and so I think we are prepared for New England's. I think this past weekend we really focused on executing the skills we have developed because we know we have all the tools -- we just have to put them together, and that will be important this coming weekend. I know in my boat we have really been focusing on getting really practiced and mentally strong at sailing races so that we are really ready to race."
Sophomore Elizabeth Brim echoed Macky's input from the B Division, and summed up the Bulldogs' perspective going into the weekend as they look to finish the season strong despite a series of health issues.
"It's been a somewhat disjointed season for us -- between the pinkeye outbreak, a bizarre stomach bug, and just colds in general -- but we've gotten in a lot of good practices, had great breeze and weather, and everyone on the team does a great job keeping the competition level high. I know that Kate and I feel more confident in our boat handling than we ever have before, so we've been able to focus on improving on more specific things during practice (like holding a spot on starting line for a certain amount of time, being more aggressive about transitions, and boat to boat things in general). Starts were really important this past weekend, so we'll definitely keep focusing on starting. Overall, we're pretty excited for New England's, and as prepared as can be. Hopefully we've filled our health problems quota for the season, and will be healthy and ready to sail this coming weekend!"
The Bulldog women representing the team in Burlington will be Macky and captain and junior Marla Menninger in A Division and senior Kate Hagemann with Brim in B Division. Juniors Sarah Lihan and Rebecca Jackson will also attend the event as alternate sailors in the case that one boat needs more strength or different skills depending on the weather and wind conditions.
Racing will begin at 9:30 a.m. Saturday morning.
Report by Jenn Hoyle '05, Yale Sports Publicity