Bulldogs Finish Sixth at Nationals

The race committee calls the line during a start at the 2013 ICSA Women's Nationals.
The race committee calls the line during a start at the 2013 ICSA Women's Nationals.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— After three days and 36 races, the Yale women's sailing team finished in sixth place at the ICSA Women's National Dinghy Championship.  Eighteen schools competed in the event and in the end only five points separated the Bulldogs from a place on the podium. 

Racing was hosted by the University of South Florida and took place just south of the Magnuson Hotel Marina Cove in St. Petersburg, Fla.  Two fleets of FJs were used so that both A and B division could race simultaneously.  They raced on a trapezoid course similar to that used by most Olympic classes.

All three days of the national championship saw very similar conditions—seven to 12 knots of wind from the west and very hot.  Temperatures were in the high 80s all regatta long with humidity levels above 50 percent.  Coaches and spectators onshore could be seen constantly moving between their air-conditioned hotel rooms and tent-shades to escape the heat.  Every four races, the racers were given short breaks to get out of the sun and recuperate. 

There was no wind on Wednesday morning for the ICSA Women's Semifinal Championship and at noon it was announced that the results from Tuesday's eight races would determine the last nine teams to qualify for the finals.  Those nine teams met the nine prequalified teams, including Yale, on the starting line at 1 p.m. for the first race of the finals.  By that time the westerly sea breeze had filled and racing was able to continue throughout the afternoon without delay.  Six races were completed in both A and B division on day one.

Going into racing on Thursday, the Bulldogs were in fifth in the overall standings.  A surge during the first half of day boosted them to within seven points of first place, but tougher finishes at the end of the day dropped them back to sixth.

The last four races of the regatta were sailed on Friday afternoon in the hottest temperatures of the week.  The Bulldogs started off with two strong races in both A and B division, but then struggled in race 17.  Both of Yale's boats recovered well and finished strong with second-place finishes in race 18, but it was not quite enough to put the Bulldogs on the podium.

The team was led by juniors Marlena Fauer and Eugenia Custo Greig and sophomore Katherine Gaumond whose combined efforts earned them first place overall in B division.  They finished in the top three in 11 out of 18 races and only outside of the top ten twice. 

Team captain Fauer attributed her boat's success to strong starts and boat speed.  She also said that "it was really important to be in phase and always go to the next pressure."

Skippers Emily Billing, Claire Dennis, and Morgan Kiss and crews Urska Kosir and Amanda Salvesen all contributed to the team's 12th-place finish in A division.

The Dartmouth Big Green won the nationals quite handily with 38 points separating them and second.  The St. Mary's Seahawks and Cornell Big Red rounded out the top three.  Although sixth may not have been the result that the women's sailing team was looking for, it is still a young team with most of it sailors returning next year. 

The team will attend the regatta awards banquet tonight, but then many of its members will actually be looking for a good night's sleep in preparation for racing again tomorrow.  Custo Greig, Fauer, Gaumond and Salvesen will all be racing with the Yale coed sailing team at the ICSA Team Racing National Championship which begins at 9 a.m tomorrow morning.

Report filed by Chris Segerblom '14, Yale Sports Publicity