SAILING | Sailors brave windy conditions

The sailing team braved fickle weather conditions and strong currents to place third overall in the Charleston Spring Intersectional hosted by the College of Charleston, accumulating a total of 133 points over the course of 24 total races Saturday and Sunday.

Two teams competed in the co-ed competition. Skipper Joseph Morris ’12, along with crew Michael Hession ’10, won third overall in the A Division with a total of 76 points, just 16 points away from second place. This was a dramatic improvement over last year’s 13th-place finish in the A Division of the Charleston Regatta. In the B Division, skipper Jane Macky ’09 and crews Marla Menninger ’10 (races 1-10) and Hession (races 11-12) placed second overall with a total of 57 points, matching their second-place finish in the same division from last year. Both teams sailed in the College of Charleston’s new 420s.

Conditions during the race went from one extreme to another. The race was postponed Saturday because the wind was not strong enough for competition.

“There were pretty light breezes from the south … a little shifty but pretty light throughout the day,” Morris said.

Although conditions later improved and it became what Menninger called a “really nice day,” Sunday’s conditions shifted to the other end of the spectrum, becoming so windy that sailing was difficult.

“We had lots of wind, from 15 to almost 25 knots at some point, and there was a lot of flipping and stuff like that,” Morris said, referring to capsizing. “It was pretty crazy conditions, but we hung in there … luckily we stayed upright … that was the key.”

The winds were so strong Sunday, according to Hession, that Macky was sometimes “planing” — gliding over the water and going as fast as possible.

“The boat actually comes up on the water so that instead of displacing a bunch of water it’s riding over the top,” Hession said.

In addition to tough wind conditions, there were strong currents in the harbor where the competition was held. This called for strategic navigation by the Yale sailors.

Menninger said, “We usually don’t have current, so it was an added complication.”

The team’s performance is especially admirable considering the team had not practiced since November. Southern teams have been practicing for a few weeks already, while northeastern teams like Yale have had to stay out of the water because of the cold weather. While Morris had done some sailing last weekend, participating in the team’s first-place win in the Mendelblatt Team Race in St. Petersburg, Fla., he said that Yale has not really been able to practice yet.

Plus, the competition this weekend was in fleet racing, which Hession said requires a different mind-set than team racing.

Morris said, “[The Mendelblatt Team Race] was our first regatta but it wasn’t actually just practice time, it was competition, and then this weekend we came back down with no practice. For Jane and Marla and Mike this was their first time on the water since last November.”

Menninger said she and her teammates relied on their training from the fall and their experience from previous years of sailing to pull them through the race.

“We haven’t practiced at all this spring so we literally just jumped in the boats and went racing,” she said. “We definitely probably could have done a bit better with some more practice, but I think we’re really happy with how we did.”

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