May 14, 2012

No. 3 Bulldogs Punch Ticket to Texas

Bulldogs Qualify For Nationals

ANNAPOLIS, Md.—The No. 3 Bulldogs solidified their successful season with a second place finish at the ICSA Western Semi-Final Championship, securing a spot at the ICSA National Dinghy Championships in Austin, Texas June 6-8. The Bulldogs were consistent across the two divisions, proving that they are one of the teams to beat in the Lone Star State early next month.

The Bulldogs went into the weekend with a sour taste in their mouths after a heartbreaking finish at the New England Team Race Championship two weekends ago. However, the week of work they put in on the water combined with the added drive of recent disappointment prepared them well for the weekend at the Naval Academy.

Originally the Semi final championships were supposed to be held in Miami, Fla. at the same time as the Volvo Ocean Race stopped in to port. However, scheduling issues left the ICSA scrambling for a new location. Navy stepped up to the task providing their venue for the two semifinals, with one of the championships in one fleet of its boats and one of the championships in the other fleet. 

The Bulldogs and the rest of the teams in the Western Semifinals began the weekend in FJs. Conditions were light and variable on Saturday with a wind hold to begin the day. The Bulldogs kept their concentration despite the break and hit the water with a focused attitude. Eight races were completed in A division while seven were completed in B division before the breeze shut off for the day, preventing any more racing.

Sunday brought more sun as well as more wind requiring a tactical and in many cases a personnel change. Sailing moved out to Triton Point and the Bulldogs adapted to the boat change as they moved from FJs to 420s. Six more races were completed in A division and seven more were completed in B division to round out the regatta four races from a full rotation.

Senior Joseph Morris skippered the A division boat to a sixth place finish with crews senior Isabel Elliman (races one through eight and 11 and 12) and junior Heather May (races nine and 10 and 13 and 14). The division was extremely tight as Morris and company were only five points out of third. They collected seven top fives including two wins and remained quite consistent besides an unfortunate last race in which they were over early and had to clear the line twice. However, they displayed their ability to thrive in any of the conditions thrown at them.

B division had a larger cast of characters. Freshman Graham Landy skippered the first eight and last four races of the regatta while junior captain Cameron Cullman skippered races nine and 10. May crewed races one through eight with senior Genoa Warner crewing for Cullman in races nine and 10 and sophomore Christopher Segerblom crewing for Landy when he was put back in for the last four races. The combined effort pushed the team to second in the division, just two points out of first. They finished with seven top fives including two wins and went on their best streak at the end of the regatta.

In a surprise to everyone but perhaps themselves, No. 16 University of Miami sailed past all of the higher ranked schools to win the Western Semi-final, largely due to their A division skipper's great weekend. Harvard, SUNY Maritime, Boston College, Wisconsin, Navy, Tufts and the University of South Florida rounded out the rest of the top nine teams that will move on to the National Championships.

A more expected winner emerged in the Eastern Semi-final with No. 1 Georgetown taking the regatta. Roger Williams, Stanford, Charleston, Old Dominion University, Hobart William Smith, Brown, Dartmouth and Boston University rounded out the qualifying teams.  In a testament to the region's depth, all eight of the New England teams that qualified for the Semi-finals secured spots at the National Championships.

After another week long break for graduation and some rest and recovery, the Bulldogs will hit the water for two weeks of training at the McNay Family Sailing Center before heading south for the National Championships which begin on Lake Travis in Austin, Texas on June 6th.

Report filed by Margot Benedict '12, Yale Sports Publicity