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No. 1 Bulldogs Head For National Singlehanded Championships

No. 1 Bulldogs Head For National Singlehanded Championships

Bulldogs Sail for National Success

NEW HAVEN, Conn.—Two of the No. 1 Bulldogs will go in search of the sun and warm water this weekend at the National Singlehanded Championships hosted by University of South Florida and Eckerd at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Bulldogs are excited for a chance to get a nice dose of Vitamin D as well as the opportunity to prove their excellence against the top Laser Radial sailors in the country.

Last year, three Bulldogs qualified for the event. Sophomore Claire Dennis finished in second, only six points out of the top spot. Sarah Lihan '10 finished fourth while sophomore Emily Billing finished seventh. The navy blue Y pinnies were spotted at the front of the fleet all weekend long.

While Billing and Dennis will not have their longtime teammate and friend Lihan out on the water with them this year, she did come to Yale to tune them up for this event early this week. Billing and Dennis will also have wise sailing advice in Florida from a member of the class of 2010 as Thomas Barrows will travel down to the regatta to coach. Also accompanying the duo and sophomore Cam Cullman, who qualified for the men's event, will be assistant coach Bill Healy.

For both Billing and Dennis, sailing in St Petersburg will be nothing new. Billing grew up sailing in nearby Clearwater, Fla., and the team will be staying at her house. Hopefully the hominess of the sunshine state will energize and inspire her performance. While Dennis grew up on the other coast, she spent many weeks sailing in the sunshine state and has plenty of experience to give her an advantage over many of the other sailors.

This will be the Bulldogs' second and final chance to show the expertise that they have gained over years of sailing Laser Radials. Both sailors have traveled the globe racing the 4.23 meters long boat with a sail area of 5.76 meters (as compared to the Laser's 7.06 meter sail area). Both have been members of the US Sailing Development Team. Dennis is currently a member of the US Sailing Team Alphagraphics following her impressive finish at the Miami Olympic Class Regatta last January.

The Bulldogs have always been known for their bite in the Laser Radial class and have consistently had top finishes at both the New England and the National level. However, a member of the women's team has not won the Janet Lutz Trophy, the award given to the winner, since 2006 when Molly Carapiet '06 captured the title in her senior year. Billing and Dennis hope to change that this weekend.

Unlike most college regattas, racing will begin around noon on Friday, following a morning practice session. Laser Performance will be providing the boats for the event and the sailors will get a chance to adjust to them and get them fine-tuned on Friday morning. Racing will continue on Saturday and Sunday. The three days should allow adequate time to complete numerous races.

Currently the forecast is for winds of 20 knots with choppy water on Friday with light chop and wind of 10 knots on Saturday and Sunday.

Billing and Dennis will sail against the top singlehanded sailors in the country. Three other sailors hail from the New England region, four come from the Mid-Atlantic, two come from the Mid-west, one comes from the Northwest, two come from the Pacific, three come from the South Atlantic and one comes from the Southeastern region, making a total of 16 sailors.

Billing and Dennis will attempt to reclaim the Janet Lutz Trophy for the Bulldogs starting on Friday at 12 p.m.

Report filed by Margot Benedict '12. Yale Sports Publicity