April 26, 2009
NW HAVEN, Conn. - The No. 5 Bulldog coed sailing team continued their streak of strong performances this weekend at intersectional competitions across the East Coast. The team, which is coming off of a fifth-place finish at the New England Dinghy Championships, used the four regattas this weekend as a valuable opportunity to face the same, stiff competition that they will face next weekend at the ICSA National Semifinals.
The best performance of the weekend came at the Thompson Trophy hosted by Coast Guard. The Bulldogs finished fifth at the regatta this year, a large improvement on last year's 15th-place performance. The Bulldogs completed 18 races in each division in tricky conditions that were characterized by strong currents and puffy, shifty wind. The tough conditions, though, did not stop the Bulldogs from performing well, scoring 290 points. The sailors, who sailed in both FJs and 420s, did well in a variety of wind strengths that included hiking conditions. No. 1 Boston College won with 207 points.
In A division, junior captain Thomas Barrows and sophomore Blair Belling took fifth with 136 points. The duo had half of their races in the top five, including two first-place finishes. Consistency and adaptation to the constantly changing conditions was key to the success of the Bulldogs at the event.
Belling felt the regatta went well, despite the challenging conditions.
"It was a good weekend overall for the team," Belling felt. "The wind was shifty with strong current, which made for some of the trickiest conditions that we have seen all year. Current is normally a factor at Coast Guard, but today, it was ripping and much stronger than normal. We had to be aware of the current at mark roundings and the wind was very puffy, so it was important to stay on your toes and adjust to the puffs. I felt that we had really good boat speed and we transitioned well from the FJ to the 420, which was important for our performance."
The Bulldogs also performed well in B division, with the team of junior John Kempton and senior Adriane Levin taking seventh in the division with 154 points. This was an improvement over last year, when the duo raced in A division, in which they took 15th. Kempton and Levin had seven finishes in the top five.
The Bulldogs also competed at the three division Admiral's Cup hosted by US Merchant Marine Academy-King's Point. The regatta was sailed in two divisions of dinghies and one division of the singlehanded Laser. The regatta featured a trapezoidal course, which has an upwind, reach leg, downwind, reach leg and a final upwind, with separate start and finish lines. This is different than the typical windward-leeward courses in college sailing.
On Saturday, the Bulldogs waited for the wind to fill in until the early afternoon, at which time they started racing in a moderate eight knot breeze with flat water. The wind soon built to a steady 12-14-knots for the middle of the day, before dying to six knots for the last of eight races of Saturday. On Sunday, the sailors arrived to glassy water and the wind never filled in, so the scores from Saturday counted as the final results for the regatta. The regatta, which featured very close competition, was a good tune-up for the ICSA National Semifinals. The Bulldogs finished 11th at the event with 212 points. The Bulldogs, however, wished there were just a few more races to move up in the rankings as they were just 19 points out of sixth. The regatta was won by No. 12 Tufts with 114 points.
In A division, freshman Joseph Morris and senior Grace Becton led the team in the doublehanded FJ. The duo took third in their division with 43 points, only one behind the team from No. 1 Boston College. Morris and Becton normally sail in B division, so the regatta was a good opportunity for Morris to face the more challenging competition in A division. They showed that they will be a force to be reckoned with at the ICSA National Semifinals, winning one race and being in the top five in half the races.
In B division, freshman Cameron Cullman sailed with senior Emmet Smith in 420s. The duo took 10th in their division while scoring 70 points, only five points out of eighth. The duo had four top five races, with a best race of third. The team did well with their starting and improved as the regatta went on, especially hitting a groove of strong performances in the windier conditions and as the duo got accustomed to sailing with each other.
In C division, senior Caleb Dorfman competed in the Olympic class Laser, which is sailed singlehanded. Dorfman placed 13th in the division with 99 points, only seven points out of 11th. This was his collegiate debut in the Laser, which is optimally sailed by an athlete physically taller and heavier than Dorfman. As a result, he struggled with keeping the boat flat in the stronger wind, which is important to sailing fast, but had good starts and downwinds.
Morris was pleased with the regatta.
"I think that the Admiral's Cup was a very good learning experience," Morris said. "It was a good opportunity for members of the team to try out new positions, which they all did well in. Personally, for me, it was nice to get some experience in sailing A division, which has tougher competition than B division, and is good preparation for next weekend, when there will be lots of good competition. I think that we did well at holding thin lanes and coming back from tough starts. Our first beats were the best parts of our races, and we frequently had mediocre starts, but we were good at coming back from them."
The team also competed on Saturday at the Priddy Trophy for the New England Freshman Championships hosted by Massachusetts Maritime in 420s. The team of freshmen Rob Struckett and Stephanie Schulyler took fifth with 55 points in the 11 race regatta.
The team also competed at the George Morris Trophy hosted by No. 13 Boston University, but results are not available at this time.
The team is next in action May 2-3 at the ICSA National Semifinals hosted by No. 8 Harvard at Fan Pier in Boston and at the BU Trophy hosted by Boston University. The top nine teams at next the Semifinals will qualify for the ICSA Coed Dinghy National Championships.
Report filed by Caleb Dorfman '09, Yale Sports Publicity