Road to National Championship Begins for No. 4 Bulldogs
New England Dinghy Championship Is Qualifier for ICSA Semifinals
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – This weekend's New England Dinghy Championship at Connecticut College is the first challenge the Bulldogs must over come if they wish to secure a spot on the starting line at the ICSA/Gill Dinghy National Championships this June in Wisconsin. The top-eight finishers at this 18-team event will earn the right to represent NEISA at the ICSA Semifinal in two week's time. The Bulldogs will also race at the Oberg Trophy and host the Short Beach Invitational.
Last year, ICSA restructured the qualifying process for the national championship. In past years, each team would receive a certain number of berths and would hold a district championship to determine which schools would fill them. For teams in high-density regions like the northeast and the mid-Atlantic, this actually meant that nationals would be an easier regatta than some intersectional events because weaker districts represented an outsized portion of the fleet. Now, the ICSA holds two semifinals: east and west. Each district is allocated a certain number of slots in the semifinals – NEISA has eight – and from that point the best teams move on. The two semifinals are each 18-boat fleets, with the top-nine finishers in each fleet moving on to form the national-championship entry list. The Bulldogs took fifth place in last year's New England Dinghy Championship.
Sailing for the Bulldogs in A division will be senior Thomas Barrows and junior Blair Belling, with freshman Rafael Fernandez ready to step in if the breeze becomes strong. Sophomore Joseph Morris and senior Marla Menninger will race in B division, with senior Michael Hession available as a heavy-air crew. The event will use Connecticut College's fleet of FJs and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy's fleet of 420s.
Rain may be in the forecast this weekend, as a low-pressure system moves into the area on Saturday. This could potentially lead to 10-15 knot winds, but local effects may dominate many racecourses.