No. 3 Bulldogs Win Ivy League Regatta
March 29, 2009
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The No. 3 Bulldog coed sailing team showed once again that it is a dominant force in Ivy League sailing by winning the Mosbacher and Knapp Trophies during its second-place performance at the Owen, Mosbacher and Knapp Trophies hosted by the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy-King's Point this Saturday and Sunday. The Bulldogs, who captured the Ivy League regatta for the second consecutive year by winning the Mosbacher Trophy, took second place at the Owen Trophy. The Bulldogs also competed at the Boston Dinghy Club Cup and Southern Series Two.
The Owen Trophy regatta, which featured competition for the Owen, Mosbacher and Knapp Trophies, was certainly the highlight of the weekend for the team and a bright spot for the Yale athletic department. The regatta was hosted by King's Point in two divisions, with A division sailing FJs on Saturday and B division sailing 420s on Saturday. On Saturday, 10 races were completed in each division before five more races were completed on Sunday, with A and B divisions switching fleets of boats for the competition on Sunday. The regatta featured 20 teams, including many of the founding members of college sailing.
2009 marked only the second year that the Mosbacher and Knapp Trophies have been combined with the Owen Trophy event. The Owen Trophy is held annually and features the charter members of the Intercollegiate Sailing Association (ICSA) along with Navy and Coast Guard. The traditional rivals of these schools are also invited to compete in the event. The Owen Trophy was awarded to the overall winner of the regatta and honors Prof. George Owen, a legendary MIT professor and yacht designer who designed the Tech dinghy in 1936. Owen's legacy continues to live on through the Tech, which is still sailed in college sailing. The Mosbacher Trophy is awarded to the top Ivy League finisher and was started in 1962 as a way of honoring former Dartmouth sailor Emil Mosbacher, Jr., who was a standout college sailor and defended the America's Cup twice. The title is awarded to the top Ivy League school at the Owen Trophy. The Knapp Trophy is awarded to the top school among the Harvard, Yale and Princeton squads at the Ivy League Championship.
The Bulldogs sailed strongly throughout the regatta to win both the Mosbacher and Knapp Trophies, earning the team the Ivy League Regatta title for the 2008-09 competitive season. The team also placed second at the Owen Trophy with 134 points. No. 2 Boston College edged out the Bulldogs with 107 points while No. 17 Connecticut College was third with 209 points. The Bulldogs dominated the Ivy League competition, with the second-best Ivy League school, Dartmouth, taking eighth with 244 points. The Bulldogs won the Owen Trophy last year, as well as the Mosbacher and Knapp Trophies. The Bulldogs have been the top Ivy League finisher at the regatta for three of the past four years. The Bulldogs also captured the regatta in the 2005-06 and 2007-08 seasons.
Both days of competition featured tricky competition, with light to moderate wind and tough starting conditions. Saturday featured wind that was at times strong enough to require hiking and the pin end of the starting end was always favored, so many boats would attempt to start at that end. While the end was favored, some boats at the pin would frequently get as bad start at the end because of the intense competition. On Sunday, the wind was light, with the crew sitting in the boat for the entirety of racing. Sailing in foggy and chilly conditions, the Bulldogs tried to sail in a consistent manner in tricky conditions. A strong current swept upwind during the racing on Sunday morning and the pin was again heavily favored, leading to frequent jam ups at that end. However, on Sunday, it was vital to have a good start because the left side of the course, which was most easily accessible from the pin end, was heavily favored due to more wind and more current pushing the sailors upwind. Despite the tough conditions, the Bulldogs fared well on the windward-leeward courses with a gate.
In A division, junior captain Thomas Barrows and sophomore crew Blair Belling placed second with 69 points. Boston College won the division with 59 points. Barrows and Belling were consistent in the tough conditions, only placing outside of the top half of competition once in 15 races. As well, the duo was in the top five in 11 of the races and won a further five races. They got on a hot streak in the middle of the regatta, having seven straight races in the top five. While the cold weather and chop along with light wind and fog was miserable for some on Sunday, it treated the Bulldogs well, with Barrows and Belling winning the final two races of the regatta. Barrows won A division at the regatta last year, leading the Bulldogs to an overall victory.
Barrows was pleased with the win of the Ivy League Regatta title in the face of tough conditions.
"Overall, the regatta went pretty well," Barrows said. "Although winning the Ivy League is not the biggest goal we have on our team, it is a pretty nice honor to win. It is a big thing for the team to capture an Ivy League title and we like to take pride in the university by helping win Ivy League Championships. Starting was very important at the regatta and it seemed at times to be the only issue for our team. Since the fleet was not as deep as other events, we could not afford to make some of the mistakes we did and get deep finishes as there was not the parity there is at other regattas. I think that we did well because we were able to recognize what was going on on the course and see what side was favored while going fast."
Freshman Joseph Morris and senior Grace Becton also turned in a strong performance by taking second in B division with 65 points. Boston College won the division with 48 points. The duo never finished outside the top half of the fleet and had a very impressive first day of competition, having only three finishes outside the top three in the first 10 races. They had 10 finishes in the top five and won three races over the two days of competition.
Morris views the regatta as a positive experience in the short run and as a positive contributor towards the team's long-run success.
"It feels great to represent Yale and win an Ivy League Championship, especially as a freshman," Morris said. "At the same time, we are looking forward to nationals and preparing for that event. We had our confidence shaken a few times in races with bad starts and we need to not get frustrated when things don't go our way. It is better to make mistakes now and learn from them so we have one more thing in our arsenal for the season."
Morris found the starting situation at the event to be the toughest aspect of the regatta.
"Starting didn't go so well for us on Saturday, but we were able to grind back well during the races," Morris said. "We had over early starts, but were still able to get top five finishes. The pin was very favored, so you had to either manage a high-risk pin starting strategy or a more conservative approach. On Saturday, we took a conservative approach and grinded back, but on Sunday, the left was very favored. We had trouble executing the risky starts on Sunday with the light and choppy conditions and since the start was so critical because the left was favored, it was tough to grind back."
Despite the starting issues, the team still views the Ivy League Regatta title as a positive development in the team's progress towards its ultimate end of season race preparations. Belling believes the regatta is a positive evaluation of the team's progress so far this season.
"Winning the Ivy League Championship is a big accomplishment for us," Belling said. "It shows how hard we have been working this fall and spring and is a good benchmark for us. As well, it is a way to make our school proud. We were trying to stay consistent during the regatta and try to have good starts. The conditions were tough and we wanted to sail 15 good races. I'm excited to win, but also fired up for the season. It is nice to do well in a fleet race. We still need to put in more time, but the good boathandling we had this weekend will help us in team racing as well."
The Bulldogs also had a successful weekend of sailing at the Boston Dinghy Club Cup hosted by MIT and Harvard in FJs on the Charles River, a historically shifty venue. The Bulldogs, who won the event last year, took ninth with 455 points at the 18-team regatta. No. 6 Harvard won the event with 346 points. The regatta featured shifty winds that ranged from two to 14 knots.
The Bulldogs were led by the seventh-place finish of the C division combination of freshman Cameron Cullman and senior Adriane Levin. The duo scored 136 points and turned in a number of first-place finishes. In A division, senior Jane Macky and junior Michael Hession were 10th with 153 points while junior John Kempton and junior captain Marla Menninger were 12th with 166 points.
Cullman felt the hardest part of the regatta was dealing with the tricky and always changing conditions.
"Overall, our starts were very good, which was a big thing for us," Cullman said. "We were pretty aggressive overall and were always pushing the line. The conditions were tough, though. We always tried the same strategy, but it never worked out the same because of the shifts. We did well playing the shifts and going fast and were good in both the light and heavy breeze. We had pretty good first beats and we played the shifts well up the middle, but we kept on getting tacked on and needed to go out to the sides of the course more often."
The team also took third with 130 points at the Southern Series Two event hosted by Salve Regina in 420s. The regatta, which was won by the hosts and featured 20 teams, included warm, sunny conditions on Saturday and cold, foggy and rainy conditions on Sunday. The wind started out very light on Saturday, before building to occasional hiking conditions and then lightened near the end of the day. The wind was patchy, with it being critical to connect the puffs while taking advantage of shifts that occurred near the edges of the course. On Sunday, the sailors endured rain and a light to moderate breeze.
The Bulldogs took third in A division with 59 points over the 12 races. Senior Caleb Dorfman sailed on Saturday (races 1-8) with sophomore Alexa Chu while freshman Rob Struckett (races 9-12) sailed with Chu on Sunday. Dorfman started the regatta with consistently strong performances, never finishing outside the top half and having six of his eight finishes in the top four boats. Struckett then turned in two top five finishes during Sunday's racing, with a top finish of third.
Chu felt that the team turned in a solid performance at the regatta.
"I felt that the regatta went very well, especially because John [Vrolyk] and Emmet [Smith] have not sailed 420s since the fall," Chu said. "We did a good job getting consistent, conservative finishes and we sailed well on both the upwind and downwind legs. On Sunday, it was so foggy that it was tough to sail. On the sail out, the fog was so thick that it was like a maze with all the buoys and when racing started, it was tough to see other boats."
In B division, junior John Vrolyk and senior Emmet Smith took fourth with 71 points. While they got off to a slow start, they hit their stride part way through the day on Saturday, winning two consecutive races and having two other top three finishes. Vrolyk and Smith ended the regatta with eight top five finishes.
The Bulldogs next compete in the Southern New England Team Race at Coast Guard and Connecticut College and will host and compete in the Ferrarone Team Race at the McNay Family Sailing Center. Both events will begin at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday and will continue on Sunday.
Report filed by Caleb Dorfman '09, Yale Sports Publicity