No. 1 Bulldogs Triumph at Singlehanded Nationals
Dennis Captures Win, Billing Fourth
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.- The No. 1 Bulldogs took St. Pete by storm, finishing first and fourth at the National Singlehanded Championships. Sophomore Claire Dennis brought the Janet Lutz Trophy back to New Haven for the first time since Molly Carapiet '06 captured it in 2006 while sophomore Emily Billing finished a mere one point out of the top three to finish fourth.
The entire weekend was marked by sunshine, lots of breeze, and unseasonably nippy temperatures. Racing began on Friday at 12:00 p.m. with breezes of 15 to 18 knots. Six races were completed before the sailors were sent in. Saturday brought wind of 18 to 22 knots with a bit of lighter breeze of 16 knots in the afternoon. With nine races completed on Saturday, only three races were sailed on Sunday to complete the rotation. The breeze was a bit lighter ranging from 12 to 15 knots.
The course all three days was a windward-leeward with five legs and a windward offset and a leeward gate, providing plenty of exciting sailing for spectators and sailors alike.
Dennis compiled an incredibly impressive score line. She won 10 of the 18 races, including a string of wins from the second race through the ninth race. She only finished out of the top ten in two races with a high finish of 11th. She was able to remain consistent throughout the regatta despite the pressure that second-place finisher Anne Haeger of Boston College put on her the last day. The regatta came down to the last race, but even with Haeger breathing down her back and trying to pin her out at the start, Dennis was able to finish fourth and take the win.
Dennis commented, "The win was hard fought but a lot of fun. It was a very stressful day [on Sunday] but it feels great now." She credited her incredible performance this week to the expansive heavy air Laser Radial training she had last summer as well as her tactic of using a lot more controls than the other sailors.
Billing also sailed a superb regatta, just missing third place by one point. Coming off an ankle injury earlier this fall that sidelined her for half the season, Billing had to fight through the breezy conditions which are not particularly agreeable with her ankle. She was able to stay remarkably consistent with a high finish of seventh. She also won race number 17, which was a part of her impressive Sunday.
Billing commented, "On Sunday I knew I only had to do three races so I tried to get good starts and get off the line and hike really hard."
The weekend once again proved that the Yale women's sailing team's reputation as a Laser Radial powerhouse is well-founded. Strong finishes at the Singlehanded National Championships have become somewhat of a tradition for the Bulldogs.
Next weekend the Bulldogs will return to St Peterbsurg, Fla. for the Atlantic Coast Championships. It will be the final regatta of the fall season.
Video Coverage (Including a champion dunking for Dennis)
Report filed by Margot Benedict '12, Yale Sports Publicity