NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Yale women's sailing team will put its No. 1 preseason ranking to the test this weekend at the first regatta of the fall collegiate sailing season. The Bulldogs will travel to Cambridge, Mass., to sail in the Toni Deutsch Regatta, hosted by MIT on the Charles River.
It has been just over three months since the Bulldogs wrapped up their last season with a second-place finish at the ICSA Women's National Championship in Austin, Texas. Four points was all that separated Yale from the victorious Boston College Eagles. However, the Eagles graduated both of their nationals-winning skippers, whereas the Bulldogs' entire 2012 nationals roster will be returning this season. In fact, only one of the sailors on that roster was not an underclassman.
The coaching decision as to which sailors will represent the Bulldogs at the Toni Deutsch Regatta this weekend has not yet been announced. With such a deep roster, one can see how it might be difficult to make such decisions. However, most coaches would agree that this is a good problem to have.
Adding to the roster, four freshmen have joined the women's sailing team this fall. Charlotte Belling, the younger sister of past Yale Sailing Team Captain Blair Belling '10, is from Newport Beach, Calif., but went to high school at Hotchkiss where she was captain of the sailing team her senior year.
Marly Isler, from La Jolla, Calif., also has sailing experience from high school, as both a skipper and a crew. She was a member of the 2011 US Sailing Olympic Development Team and also happens to be the daughter of Jennifer "JJ" Fetter '85 who earned All-American honors while sailing for Yale and has also won two Olympic sailing medals, a silver and a bronze, in the women's 470 class.
Emily Johnson is a lake sailor from Liget, Mich. She has a good amount of experience crewing in Club 420s, one of the most prominent dinghy classes in collegiate sailing. And last but not least, Sanam Rastegar, a Connecticut local from the nearby city of Weston, also sailed dinghies prior to coming to Yale. In high school, she started a sailing program at Paul Newman's Hole in the Wall Gang Camp and was later named a junior ambassador to the organization.
Look for all of these freshmen to become major contributors on the women's sailing team. This is already the third week of practice and the team has been working hard to integrate the freshmen and brush off any cobwebs from the three-month summer vacation.
The Bulldogs are also very fortunate to have an additional assistant coach helping them this season. After spending some time campaigning for the Olympics, Thomas Barrows '10 has returned to Yale to work with his former team. While sailing at Yale, Barrows was a four-time ICSA All-American, went to the Olympics in the Laser class, representing the US Virgin Islands, and was named ICSA College Sailor of the Year in 2010.
With extra coaching power, four new-but-experienced freshmen, and all members of last year's team returning, the Bulldogs are hopeful that they can live up to their No. 1 preseason ranking. That said, the Bulldogs are well aware that many other teams will also be returning to competition in full force this weekend. Additionally, the Charles River is one of the most challenging regatta venues in collegiate sailing. The Bulldogs will have to find once again that race-by-race "consistency" that they talked so much about last year as being the key to success.
If this year's Toni Deutsch shapes up to be anything like last year's, the Bulldogs are in for a long weekend. Last year MIT ran 26 races in each division at the regatta.
Report filed by Chris Segerblom '14, Yale Sports Publicity