May 27, 2009
SAN FRANCISCO - The No. 1 Bulldog women's sailing team showed that their first-place national ranking was deserved by winning the ICSA Women's National Championship on Thursday afternoon. The Championship, the highest possible achievement in women's college sailing, is the second title in school history and first since 2004. The Bulldogs were also in contention for the title last year, when they took third place.
The National Championship for the Bulldogs is the culmination of an impressive season in which the Bulldogs experienced strong finishes at the major intersectionals, including a third-place finish at the Women's Atlantic Coast Championships. The win at the National Championships, though, is the most impressive result of the season at what may have been the most competitive Women's National Championship in history in some of the toughest possible conditions.
For the first time in history, the Women's National Championships included a Semi-Final competition, so the National Championship included 27 teams from around the country. On the first day of the National Championship, 18 teams faced each other for the right to earn one of nine berths in the finals. The Bulldogs, though, by virtue of their win at the Women's New England Championship, received a berth directly to the Championship Finals. This was an advantage for the team as it allowed them to stay more rested than many of the teams, who had to race for one day in very windy and wavy conditions to make it to the finals.
The conditions at the ICSA Women's National Championships were some of the toughest that the team could possibly face. The team, which sailed 14 races in FJ's at the regatta hosted by No. 12 Stanford and St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco Bay, featured extremely high wind and current that occasionally created large waves. Both the water and air temperatures were cold, which combined with the strong winds, created a very tough environment for the team.
The challenging conditions, though, did not stop the Bulldogs from turning in a strong win at the Championships. The Bulldogs finished with 148 points over the 14 races in each division, nine points better than No. 2 College of Charleston. The Bulldogs had an even larger lead before the team had a number of tough results in B division near the end of the event. Still, the nine-point margin was good enough to bring home the first National Championship since 2004, when the team's skippers were Molly Carapiet '06 and Emily Hill '07, both of whom are now members of the US Sailing Team.
The team was led by senior Jane Macky and junior Marla Menninger who won A division at the ICSA Women's National Championships for the second consecutive year. Macky and Menninger scored 53 points over the 14 races, including only three finishes outside of the top four, including only one finish outside of the top half. This incredible display of consistency, which featured wins in six races, was key to bringing home the National Championship. Macky and Menninger also won A division last year, which at the time was the highest finish in A division by Bulldogs since 1994. The win in A division gives Macky the Madeleine Trophy, awarded to the winning skipper in A division, for the second year in a row. This is a very impressive feat because since the Trophy began being awarded in 1967, it has been won by the same sailor in consecutive years only three times in history. In total, only four different sailors have won the Trophy more than once, including one three-time winner. Only five Yale sailors have won the award, with Macky being the only one to win the honor multiple times.
The team also did well in B division, which was skippered by senior Kate Hagemann and junior Sarah Lihan and crewed by senior Grace Becton, junior Rebecca Jackson and sophomore Elizabeth Brim. The B division combos started the regatta off very strongly, never finishing outside the top half of the fleet until the 10th race of the regatta. The Bulldogs ended up finishing seventh in B division with 95 points. The division was won by No. 4 Boston College with 56 points. The team had five top five finishes.
McNay Family Director of Yale Sailing Zachary Leonard was proud of the performance.
"It was down to the last race," Leonard said. "Conditions were very windy and challenging and we didn't have a heavy air crew for A division so Jane and Marla sailed every race. They worked so hard. To come through right at the end when they were exhausted and to see them handle the pressure and win is just great."
While the team will certainly remember the victory, they will realize that the regatta was still only won in the last races of the regatta. After leading the regatta from early on the first day of the regatta, the Bulldogs entered the second day of competition with a large lead. Entering the last set of the day, though, which was sailed in A division, though, the Bulldogs had fallen behind the team from No. 9 Old Dominion by a significant margin. The team, though, made these two races count, taking the win in both of the two races. In the same two races, Old Dominion faltered, taking last in the 13th race of the regatta and second-to-last in the final race of the event. The combination of finishes helped give the team the program's second national title in history and second in six years. For all those that sailed in the Championship, especially Hagemann and Macky, who sailed their final women's regatta in college, the National Championships will be a memorable experience.
Report filed by Caleb Dorfman '09, Yale Sports Publicity