Cullman Captures National Singlehanded Championship

Cam Cullman. (Photo by gtsphots.com)

Junior Beats Competition By Almost 30 Points

CHICAGO, Ill.—Junior Cameron Cullman took the windy city by storm this weekend, capturing the ICSA National Singlehanded Championship by 27 points.  Remaining remarkably consistent despite the varying conditions, Cullman added further confirmation that the Yale coed sailing team deserves its current No. 1 ranking.

The regatta was hosted by the Chicago Yacht Club in Laser full rigs provided by event sponsor Laser Performance. Racing was held on Lake Michigan, which provided a wide variety of conditions over the three days.

Racing commenced on Friday afternoon in an east-northeast breeze of five to six knots. Conditions were particularly difficult because of what locals call the "washing machine effect." A front blew through the area on Thursday with a large amount of wind that created large waves on the lake. While the wind had dropped down significantly, the waves remained, rolling into the city's shore wall and bouncing back into the lake, creating a mess of chop that is quite different from the more uniform waves found at most open water venues. The breeze picked up for the final two races of the day, topping out at nine knots.

Saturday dawned with even trickier waves but with more breeze, which made navigating them a bit easier than on Friday. Ten races were completed on windward leeward courses that lasted twenty-five minutes. Despite concerns that Chicago might be brutally cold this time of year, the sun shone all day and temperatures climbed into the 50s, creating ideal conditions for some great fall sailing.

Sunday's forecast proved correct as the breeze continued to increase from the prior two days. It began around 15 knots and continued to build to 20 knots by the first race. It continued to clock upwards into the mid to high 20s with some gusts over 30 knots. The race committee concluded that conditions were a bit too extreme to continue after the first race and sent the fleet in to see if the breeze would abate. It remained quite strong causing the race committee to call the regatta at 12:30 p.m. despite only having completed fifteen races.

Cullman remained remarkably consistent despite the varying conditions and strengths of breeze. While Cullman was tied with eventual second place finisher Christopher Stocke from the University of South Florida after Friday, he quickly distanced himself from the rest of the fleet.

Cullman began and ended the regatta with a win, collecting three other bullets in between. He only had four finishes outside of the top five and unlike every other sailor in the fleet, never found himself outside of the top ten.

Cullman commented, "Training with Thomas Barrows, the only other Eli to ever win the men's college singlehanded nationals, was a huge advantage and his advice and coaching was indispensable. My coaches Zack Leonard and Bill Healy helped keep my head on my shoulders and their strategy allowed me to minimize risk around the racecourse in order to sail consistent races and grab the win. I've been working towards winning this national championship for Yale all fall and to have the effort pay off makes the victory feel that much better." 

The Bulldogs hope to replicate Cullman's dominating victory this weekend at the Atlantic Coast Championships at Harvard, which will close out the 2011 fall season.

Report filed by Margot Benedict '12, Yale Sports Publicity