SAILING | Smooth sailing for champions

SAN FRANCISCO — The members of the No. 1 Yale women’s sailing team came here on a mission in May: to prove why they were ranked first in the nation during the 2008-’09 season. And they did just that.

After two days of racing against the best competition from around the country, the Bulldogs fought back from 15 points down headed into the last two races to win the ICSA Women’s National Championship on Wednesday, May 27. The title is the second in Yale history and the first for the team since 2004.

The title was sealed for the Elis in the last two races as Jane Macky ’09 and Marla Menninger ’10, who won A division for the second consecutive year, finished first in both races while No. 9 Old Dominion, the leader going into the races, faltered and finished last and second to last. In addition, the Yale B division sailed well throughout the regatta, skippered by Kate Hagemann ’09 and Sarah Lihan ’10 and crewed by Grace Becton ’09, Rebecca Jackson ’10 and Elizabeth Brim ’11.

Hosted by No. 12 Stanford and the St. Francis Yacht Club on the San Francisco City Front, the Women’s National Championships featured some of the toughest conditions of the season for the Bulldogs, with strong winds gusting above 30 mph, powerful current, and low air and water temperatures, all typical of this historic San Francisco venue.

“It was down to the last race,” head coach Zach Leonard ’89 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.”

Following the presentation of the championship to the Bulldogs, Macky was recognized as the Quantum Women’s College Sailor of the Year and an All-American skipper. Hagemann was also named to the All-American skipper team.

Meanwhile in June on the San Francisco Bay, the No. 3 Yale coed sailing team won second place at the ICSA/Gill Coed Dinghy National Championships on Wednesday, June 3, its best finish in more than a quarter-century.

Coming into the last day of racing, the Elis found themselves a mere 7 points out of first after a strong performance Tuesday, June 2, netted them a 28-point gain on frontrunner No. 4 Saint Mary’s College of Maryland and allowed them to surge past No. 1 Georgetown into second place.

With only eight races scheduled to be sailed in the last day, the focus of the regatta was on St. Mary’s and Yale as the two teams battled it out. But while the regatta lead changed three times, St. Mary’s managed to hold off the Bulldogs.

“As soon as the races started, since it was so windy, you’re zoned in on hiking or going downwind,” Thomas Barrows ’10 said of the final day of racing. “It was a lot of fun, especially coming down to the last race competing with St. Mary’s. Even though we didn’t win, it’s fun to have such great competition.”

The Elis finished with 199 points over 36 races, besting third-place Georgetown (231 points) and trailing only St. Mary’s (179 points). The second-place finish was the team’s best performance at the Coed Dinghy National Championship since 1981, when the Elis also came in second.

Barrows, with crews Blair Belling ’11, Marla Menninger ’10 and Jane Macky ’09, led the Bulldogs with a dominant performance in A division, accumulating 68 points, besting St. Mary’s A division by 34 points. Joe Morris ’12, with crews Grace Becton ’09 and Mike Hession ’10, sailed solidly in B division, finishing fourth behind St. Mary’s, Georgetown and No. 6 Roger Williams.

The coed sailing team also competed in the ICSA/APS Team Race National Championship held at Treasure Island Sailing Center in San Francisco from May 29 to 31. The team finished fourth at the regatta, which was won by No. 2 Boston College.

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