February 5, 2013

Yalies Medal at Miami Sailing World Cup

Alums Win Two Gold and Two Bronze, Dennis Finishes Eighth

MIAMI, Fla. – Four Yale alumni stood on the podium at the Miami Sailing World Cup awards ceremony this past Saturday.  Zachary Brown '08 won a gold medal in the men's 49er class, Molly Carapiet '06 won bronze in the women's 49er FX, Sarah Lihan '10 won bronze in the Nacra 17 mixed multihull and Stu McNay '05 won gold in the men's 470 class.  In addition, current senior Claire Dennis qualified for Saturday's medal race and went on to finish eighth overall in the laser radial class. 

The Miami Sailing World Cup is the second of four regattas on the 2012-2013 ISAF World Cup circuit and it is the biggest Olympic class regatta of the year in North America.  More than 300 sailors competed in the event and 35 different countries were represented.

Racing at the regatta commenced on January 28 and continued for six days.  Over the course of the event, competitors experienced a full range of wind conditions, but never too little wind to race.  According to Dennis, "the conditions were great the entire week." 

Dennis, who still has one season left of collegiate sailing before she graduates, has quite a bit of experience in the laser radial, which is the designated women's singlehanded dinghy in both college and the Olympics.  In four years she has never finished outside of the top three at the ICSA Women's Singlehanded National Championship.  Not to mention, she won the event her sophomore year.  However, compared with much of her competition at the World Cup, going to college has limited the time that she has been able to focus on Olympic sailing.  With that in mind, Dennis said, "Overall I am happy with how I performed and I am in a good position to be graduating and going into sailing full-time post college." 

Dennis is following in the footsteps of numerous individuals who all sailed for Yale as undergrads and are now sailing full-time in pursuit of the Olympic dream. 

Brown, unlike some of the others, has not been to the Olympics yet, but his past two years of training in the 49er with Brown University graduate Fred Strammer seem to be paying off.  Brown and Strammer held the lead in their class at the World Cup from day one forward.  Yet, their crown did not go unchallenged.  In the penultimate "theater race"—a new format of medal race that was recently introduced to only the 49er class— they finished second, leaving them tied with the American team that beat them going into the final race.  However, Brown and Strammer overcame the pressure and won that last race to claim the gold medal.

McNay, who represented the US at the Olympics in both 2008 and 2012, also won a gold medal at the Miami Sailing World Cup.  He was skippering the same boat that he sailed at both Olympic Games, the 470, but this time with a different crew, Dave Hughes. Hughes and McNay only finished outside of the top three once in 11 races.  Although the Austrians finished one place ahead of them in the medal race, they still finished five points ahead of the Austrians in the final standings.

Lihan competed at the World Cup in the Nacra 17 mixed multihull class, which has been added to the list of Olympic classes since the London Games.  In London, Lihan represented the US in the women's 470 class, but her teammate has since retired.  What boat she will campaign for the 2016 Olympics in is still unclear, but she has shown before that she is capable of learning new boats quickly.  It was only 18 months after graduating from college and stepping into the 470 that she qualified for the London Games and now she already has a World Cup medal in the newest boat on the market.

The women's 49er FX, the class in which Carapiet sailed in Miami, is actually just as new to the Olympics as the Nacra 17.  But Olympic-level sailing is not new to Carapiet.  Although she has not been to the Games, she has trained at a very high level since graduating in 2006 and just missed qualification at the 2008 US Olympic Trials in the women's 470.  Carapiet recently took some time off from sailing to earn her MBA at Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business, but last week she was back on the water showing that she's still a serious competitor.  She and her skipper won the bronze medal in the 49er FX despite not completing three of the 17 races. 

Yale has a long history of its sailors going on to compete and win medals at the Olympics.  It is very early in the new quadrennial, but it appears that that tradition has high hopes of being continued.

Report filed by Chris Segerblom '14, Yale Sports Publicity