September 30, 2012

Billing and Dennis Qualify for Nationals

NEW LONDON, Conn. – Two members of the No. 1 Yale women's sailing team, seniors Emily Billing and Claire Dennis, qualified for the ICSA Women's Singlehanded National Championship this past weekend.  National championship berths went to the top five finishers at the Women's New England Singlehanded Championship.  Dennis and Billing finished third and fourth, respectively.   

Over the course of what Dennis called a "stressful weekend," all of Yale's sailors were on the cusp of qualifying.  On Saturday, six races were sailed in a fickle northerly breeze and strong current.  At the end of the day, Dennis was fifth, sophomore Urska Kosir was sixth and Billing was seventh. 

However, Sunday brought slightly improved wind conditions and Billing and Dennis were able to secure themselves in the top five.  Unfortunately, Kosir finished in sixth; a mere two points shy of qualification.

According to Dennis, "It was very shifty and current was a factor all weekend."  After the first two races on Sunday, the wind shifted 180 degrees, from north to south and built to as much as eight knots.   

Billing, who struggled somewhat in the early races of the regatta, thrived in the southerly and strung together some particularly impressive scores in order to qualify.  She finished either first or second in each of the last five races.

"The breeze just came in and was a bit more predictable, so I was just sort of able to get in a groove," said Billing.  However, she described the weekend as a whole as "scary."  

Billing and Dennis have both qualified for singlehanded nationals every year since they were freshmen.  Laser radials were the primary class of boat that they sailed prior to college.  In fact, both senior Bulldogs were members of the US Sailing Olympic Development Team during high school.

Now that these Bulldogs were able to get themselves past the qualification stage, they will spend the next month preparing to race against the country's 20 best collegiate radial sailors.  The ICSA Women's Singlehanded National Championship is scheduled for the first weekend of November and will be hosted by the University of Southern California.  Racing will take place just off of the Belmont Pier in Long Beach, Calif. 

Report filed by Chris Segerblom '14, Yale Sports Publicity

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