No. 6 Bulldogs Head to Nationals

Christopher Segerblom and Elizabeth Brim (Photo by Glennon Stratton).
Christopher Segerblom and Elizabeth Brim (Photo by Glennon Stratton).

Bulldogs Travel to Oregon

NEW HAVEN, Conn.—Rather than taking a break once exams were completed, the members of the No. 6 Yale coed sailing team dropped their books and put on their sailing booties, hitting the water for almost two weeks of intense practice. While their classmates were relaxing, the Bulldogs were working hard in the gym and on the water in preparation for the Intercollegiate Sailing Association National Championships in both team and fleet racing. The Bulldogs will follow in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark, traveling to Oregon for six days of sailing.

Both National Championships will be held on the Columbia River Gorge in Cascade Locks, Ore., and will be hosted by the Columbia Gorge Racing Association. The venue is known for both big breeze and strong current making racing exciting and difficult. This winter saw a large snowfall in the region, giving nearby Mount Hood an excellent year, but also strengthening the current with a large snowmelt.

First up for the Bulldogs will be the ICSA Team Race Championship sponsored by Annapolis Performance Sailing. Racing will take place over three days, May 27-29, and will hopefully, if the wind cooperates, feature plenty of round robins. The Bulldogs qualified for Nationals by finishing second at the New England Team Race Championship May 7-8 at Dartmouth.

While the Bulldogs have not had many team race regattas at full strength this season due to injuries, the team came together at the New England Championship, surprising many people by claiming one of only three nationals berths given to the extremely competitive New England region. The Bulldogs finished just behind Boston College and won the tiebreaker with Roger Williams.

While nationals will have new competitive teams such as Charleston, Georgetown and St. Mary's, the Bulldogs are fully up for the challenge. They have spent the last several weeks improving their skills with one of the best team racers in the world in Zachary Brown '08. While young, the team has made great strides in the past couple of weeks. While two of the crews were at Yale commencement this past Monday, the rest of the team took the time to travel to Roger Williams to sail against some of the top team racing teams in the region. All of the hard work on the water as well as the tactical and rule discussions off the water send the Bulldogs into the National Championships extremely well prepared.

The Bulldogs were placed into Group 1 with Georgetown, Roger Williams, UC Irvine, Charleston, Northwestern and Tulane and will thus begin sailing on the first morning.

The Bulldogs will have to transition quickly from team racing to fleet racing as the ICSA Co-ed Dinghy Championship sponsored by Gill starts the day after the completion of team racing on May 30 and runs through June 1. As in team racing, the Bulldogs peaked in fleet racing at just the right moment, finishing second at the National Western Semifinals held in Long Beach, Calif., Apr. 30- May 1. After an up and down spring season, the Bulldogs pulled it all together and just barely missed the win, finishing one point behind Boston College.

The Bulldogs will rely on a deep team, which contains only two seniors. Junior captain Joseph Morris, sophomore Cam Cullman and freshman Chris Segerblom will skipper for the Bulldogs. With varying amounts of breeze predicted and seen at the Women's Nationals which is currently being held, the Bulldogs will rely on numerous crews. Freshmen Amanda Salvesen and Eugenia Custo Grieg and sophomore Heather May are already at the Gorge sailing at the women's nationals. Seniors Blair Belling and Elizabeth Brim were able to remain on campus to graduate and will end their illustrious college sailing careers at the Gorge.

The Bulldogs could not be in a better place. They performed to their potential at the right time and qualified for both National Championships. They then spent two weeks practicing without the pressures of schoolwork. While young, the Bulldogs are poised to turn some heads at the Gorge. The National Team Racing Championship will start at 10:00 a.m. on Friday.

Report filed by Margot Benedict '12, Yale Sports Publicity