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No. 2 Bulldogs to Compete in ICSA/APS Team Race National Championship

Margot Benedict. (photo by Lincoln Benedict.)
Margot Benedict. (photo by Lincoln Benedict.)

Qualified Through Second-Place Finish at Fowle Trophy

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NEW HAVEN, Conn—The Bulldogs will take to the waters of Lake Mendota this weekend at the ICSA/APS Team Race National Championship, hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  The three-day event will be held this Saturday through Monday, May 29-31.  Yale earned a berth at the event through a third-place finish at the Fowle Trophy, the New England Team Race Championship.  

Collegiate sailing features two types of racing, team and fleet.  In fleet racing, one boat from each of 18 schools races around a fixed course, with the first boat to finish earning the win.  The regatta winner is the school that scores the lowest amount of points overall.  Team races are bracket-style competitions, with three boats from two schools racing against each other.  Like fleet racing, the first boat to finish receives one point; second place receives two points; etc.  The team with a combined score of 10 points or less wins the race.  In practice, this means that the winning team must either have the first-place finisher—known as “the one”—or the second- and third-place boats—“the two” and “the three”.  The performance of an individual boat on a team does not matter, but instead, which school finishes in a given position.  Therefore, one boat on a team might sacrifice itself and purposely lose positions if it is in the team's greater interests. 

The ICSA/APS Team Race National Championship brings together the 14 best teams from each of college sailing's six districts.  The regatta will feature at least one round-robin, in which each team races against every other team.  The four teams with the best win-loss record will transfer to the “final four” round, where the championship will be decided.  The 14 teams are Boston College, College of Charleston, Eckerd, Georgetown, Hawaii, Navy, Northwestern, Stanford, St. Mary's, Texas A&M Galveston, Tufts, University of Washington, University of Wisconsin and Yale.

Sailing for the Bulldogs will be seniors Thomas Barrows, Sarah Lihan and Marla Menninger; juniors Blair Belling and Liz Brim; and sophomore Joseph Morris. Senior Mike Hession will be present to sail with Morris if the regatta is windy. 

The Bulldogs finished fourth at last year's Team Race National Championship at the Treasure Island Sailing Center in San Francisco.

The team's success this spring is all the more remarkable because this is Lihan and Brim's first semester as a leg of the team race team.  Though Lihan and Brim are both accomplished members of the Bulldogs squads, they had never previously team raced together.  The pair proved to be quick studies, and helped the Bulldogs win the season-opening Mendelblatt Team Race, hosted by the University of South Florida. Strong performances throughout the season at the Friis-Marchiando Team Race and Southern New England Team Race helped propel the team to a qualifying position at the Fowle Trophy. 

Lake Mendota leaves several questions outstanding for the Bulldogs.  The Women's Semifinals were cancelled without any racing after two days of breathless calm.  Forecasts suggest that though conditions for Women's Nationals are no better, there will be wind for Team Race Nationals.  If anything, the regatta may resemble the Fowle Trophy—one day of near calm followed by a second of storm-force winds.  The Bulldogs were one of the best teams at switching gears between the wind conditions at the Fowle Trophy, with the best win-loss record on Sunday. 

Yale has been tuning up for the event extensively since the regular season ended.  The team has practiced against Brown University and an alumni team including a mixture of Zach Brown '08, head coach Zack Leonard '89, Stu Mcnay '05 and Phil Stemler '07.  With luck, this practice will pay off with a national championship by Monday afternoon.

Racing begins Saturday at 9:30 a.m.

Report by Andrew Kurzrok '11, Yale Sports Publicity