No. 8 Bulldogs Qualify for National Semifinals

(photo © 2010 Rob Migliaccio)
(photo © 2010 Rob Migliaccio)

Bulldogs Face Big Breeze Across New England

NARRAGANSETT, R.I.—The No. 8 Yale coed sailing team sailed in some of the biggest breeze some of the team has ever sailed in, taking seventh at the New England Dinghy Championship and securing themselves a trip to Long Beach, Calif. for the National Semifinals. Another team of Bulldogs finished sixth, fighting big puffs and shifts on the Charles River at the Oberg Trophy. Due to the forecasted breeze, the Short Beach Invitational, which was supposed to be sailed at the McNay Family Sailing center, was cancelled on Friday.

Saturday dawned brisk at the New England Dinghy Championship hosted by the University of Rhode Island at Roger Wheeler State Beach. The wind came out of the east at 15 to 20 knots before blowing well into the 20s by the third race of A division. Eight races were completed in each division. The rotations were completed off of the beach and provided plenty of excitement with the tide coming up and the shore break increasing throughout the day.

Sunday provided even more extreme conditions with winds from the southwest at 20 to 25 knots. Four more races were completed until the breeze began to gust over 30 knots in B division's 12th race, cutting the regatta short after almost all of the fleet flipped and the Bulldogs' mast snapped in half.

Due to the heavy breeze, the Bulldogs relied on a large number of people in order to form heavy enough combinations to keep up with the breeze. Junior captain Joseph Morris skippered A division to an eighth place finish. Sophomore Rafael Fernandez crewed the entire regatta, taking full advantage of his opportunity to sail as a heavy air crew. They finished in the top ten in nine out of the 12 races.

Many Bulldogs contributed to the Bulldogs 10th place finish in B division. Freshman Christopher Segerblom skippered races one and two and seven through 12 as well as crewing in races five and six. Sophomore Cam Cullman skippered races three through six. Sophomore Heather May crewed in races one through four and seven and eight with freshman Eugenia Custo Grieg crewing in races nine through 12. The combined group finished in the top ten seven times and also did not finish in the last race, snapping their mast in half.

The Bulldogs will be joined by seven other New England teams at the Nationals Semifinals which will be held in Long Beach, Calif. Apr. 30 and May 1, including No. 5 Roger Williams, winners of the New England Championships, No. 7 Brown, No. 1 Boston College, No. 4 Harvard, University of Rhode Island, No. 12 Tufts and No. 18 Connecticut College.

The Bulldogs also found some big, although not as strong, breeze on the Charles River at the Oberg Trophy hosted by Northeastern at Boston University's sailing site. The Bulldogs faced cold temperatures and rain on Saturday with a wind chill of 30 degrees. A puffy and shifty breeze of twenty plus knots came from the east allowing for the completion of eight races in A division and six races in B division despite the late start due to crew races.

Mother Nature simply could not make up her mind on Sunday with a combination of sun, clouds and rain alternating throughout the day. The breeze built throughout the day to over 20 knots from the west, though there were many lulls of much quieter breeze. Five races were completed in A division with six in B division, one short of a full rotation.

Juniors skipper Robert Struckett and crew Isabel Elliman finished sixth in A division. They had six top-five finishes and their strong Sunday moved them up the standings. Freshman skipper Max Nickbarg and junior crew Margot Benedict, sailing in their first regatta together, finished third in B division, just seven points out of first. They were able to remain consistent with eleven top-five finishes, including a win in race 10. The Bulldogs finished sixth as a team.

Next weekend the Bulldogs will take a break from National Championship qualifying, sailing in both fleet racing and team racing regattas around New England.

Report filed by Margot Benedict '12, Yale Sports Publicity