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. 

The team will also travel to Boston for the Oberg Trophy hosted by Northeastern University at Boston University.  The event will take place on the notoriously tricky Charles River, a venue known for its large, unpredictable windshifts.  Sailing for the Bulldogs will be junior Andrew Kurzrok, sophomore Margot Benedict and freshmen Emily Billing and Grace Zimmerly. 
Yale will also play host to Southern Series Five, known as the Short Beach Invitational, at the McNay Family Sailing Center.  The Bulldogs will enter two teams into the event, which promises to give plenty of Yale sailors time on the racecourse.  Sailors this weekend include seniors Becca Jackson and John Vrolyk, juniors Alexa Chu and Nathan Stevens, sophomores Chris Ell, Isabel Elliman, Stephanie Schuyler and Genoa Warner and freshmen Caroline Elenowitz, Zachary Foreman and Senem Cilingiroglu. 

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.

Racing begins Saturday at 9:30 a.m.
Report by Andrew Kurzrok '11, Yale Sports Publicity

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