There’s nothing better in intercollegiate athletics than playing for a national championship. Especially as a freshman.
Two sailors on the No. 6 Yale women’s sailing team will be doing just that on Nov. 6 to 8, as Emily Billing ’13 and Claire Dennis ’13 earned a spot in the Singlehanded National Championships by finishing in the top five at the New England Singlehanded Championships over the weekend at Boston College. Billing and Dennis finished third and fourth, respectively, while Sarah Lihan ’10 and Rebecca Jackson ’10 finished second and 11th, respectively.
The four women sailors battled through 14 races Saturday and Sunday, including some wet weather Sunday, to demonstrate their prowess as the defending national champions. Billing and Dennis, along with Lihan, will compete at the Singlehanded National Championships in Corpus Christi, Texas, in two months. This is the first time since 2006 that three Yale women sailors have qualified for Singlehanded Nationals.
“I am so happy to be sailing for Yale as a freshman. It has been such a great experience,” Billing said about her feat. “I have been working really hard since I got here to work on really improving at some basic skills that seemed to really pay off this past weekend.”
Next weekend the team will split up to participate at both the Regis Bowl at Boston University as well as the Finger Lakes Women’s Intersectional at Cornell.
Meanwhile, the No. 1 Yale coed sailing team participated at two events this past weekend. Four Bulldogs participated in the Chris Loder Trophy at New Hampshire, a four-race event marred by bad weather. Genoa Warner ’12 and Stephanie Schuyler ’12 finished eighth in the A division while Andrew Kurzrok ’11 and Margot Benedict ’12 finished sixth in the B division. The team finished eighth overall.
“The weather did not cooperate with us at UNH this weekend,” Kurzrok said. “The skipper and crew need to keep the boat moving smoothly, manage other boats and keep their eyes peeled for wider changes in the breeze. It’s a skill we’re constantly working on, and improving in this area is a goal for us this season.”
Simultaneously, four other Bulldogs raced at the Hood Trophy at Tufts University, a large 24-team event. Yale finished fourth overall. Joe Morris ’12 and Blair Belling ’11 finished third in the A division while Rob Struckett ’12 and Liz Brim ’11 came in sixth in the B division. Yale finished behind Roger Williams, which came in first, and Tufts University, the host.
The result was particularly intriguing given the absence of three notable seniors from the rotation. Captain Thomas Barrows ’10, Mike Hession ’10 and Marla Menninger ’10 took a break from intercollegiate competition to compete in the U.S. Team Racing Championship. Their absence makes the other Bulldogs’ performance at the Hood Trophy all the more impressive.
“We finished fourth with two starting sophomore skippers. That’s pretty good,” Morris said.
The coed team will compete at three events next weekend: the Danmark Trophy at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, the Smith Trophy at MIT, and the Southern Series Four at Connecticut College. The team has big expectations for the future.
“We finished second at Nationals last year,” Morris said. “We’d like to improve on that a little bit this year.”