October 19, 2009

No. 1 Bulldogs Take Sixth At Captain Hurst Bowl

Sailors Find Variety Of Conditions Across New England

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- The Bulldogs persevered through wet and wild weather as a Nor'easter blasted through New England this weekend. Sailors finished sixth at the Captain Hurst Bowl at Dartmouth, fourth at the Norm Reid Trophy at Boston College and 11th at the Great Herring Pond Open at Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

Unlike many weekends where local features control the wind, this week a large storm system dominated. In Northern New England, the storm stilled all winds, leaving sailors becalmed. However, farther south near the center of the storm sailors encountered breezes exceeding 40 knots.

The Captain Hurst Bowl was saddled with light winds. After a long day of waiting and hoping on Saturday, there was eventually enough wind for three races. Sunday started equally bleak, with temperatures in the low 30s and not a breath of wind in sight. By mid-afternoon, the wind had built and competitors sailed five races. The event report termed the long wait for wind, "one of the longest sets in college sailing history."

Sophomore Joe Morris and senior Marla Menninger eked out a win in A division, besting University of Vermont by a single point. In an impressive performance, the pair scored 11 points over four races, including one win. In B division, sophomore Rob Struckett and junior Blair Belling finished 17th with 63 points. The Bulldogs finished sixth overall with 68 points. The event was won by Dartmouth.

Closer to the center of the storm, six sailors competed at the Norm Reid Trophy hosted by Boston College on Saturday.  Unlike the other fleet racing events featuring 18-20 schools, the Norm Reid Trophy was a six-school team race.

According to senior John Vrolyk, one of the skippers from the event, "Team racing requires a bit of a different approach. While in fleet racing you're really looking for the fastest way around the course, team racing really forces you to think in terms of the other boats, their relative positions, and the boat-to-boat tactics."

In a stiff 15-18 knot wind, the Bulldogs went 4-6 against the competition, earning them fourth place.  Vrolyk sailed with sophomore Isabel Elliman and was joined by juniors Andrew Kurzrok and Alexa Chu and senior Becca Jackson and sophomore Jared Shenson.  Boston College won the event. 

"It was a good day," Vrolyk added. "We had great breeze and definitely put things together more consistently in our later races."

Across Massachusetts, the Great Herring Pond Open was sailed in gusty conditions.  Each division completed eight races in 15-20 knot winds.  Sunday, however, brought too much wind for sailing.  A morning wind advisory coupled with a forecast predicting gusts in excess of 40 knots prompted the race committee to cancel the day's racing.  In A division, freshman Emily Billing and sophomore Margot Benedict finished seventh with 59 points.  In B division, freshmen Rafael Fernandez and Grace Zimmerly finished 16th with 117 points.  Yale finished 11th overall with 176 points, and the event was won by Salve Regina University.

Billing was pleased after the event.  "Margot and I did well in terms of smart sailing," she said. "Our biggest problem was mainly due to size-- we were sailing against much bigger boys."

Contemplating the new venue, Billing added that "Great Herring Pond is much different than other places I have sailed, but it was great experience."
Next weekend the Bulldogs travel to Brown for the Sherman Hoyt Trophy, MIT for the Oberg Trophy, and host Southern Series Seven at the McNay Family Sailing Center.

report by Andrew Kurzrok '11, Yale Sports Publicity