SAILING | Light winds slow sailors

This season, both the coed and women’s sailing teams usually overcame their opponents on the second day of weekend competition to win their regattas. But light winds limited the women to two races and canceled coed events this Sunday, preventing the teams from catching their second winds at the Atlantic Coast Championships.

In the last regatta of the fall racing season this weekend, the No. 1 ranked women sailors finished third and the No.1 ranked coed Bulldogs took fourth at the ACCs. The women’s event was hosted by Brown in Cranston, R.I., and the coed event was hosted by Harvard in Cambridge, Mass.

“Usually we’re always working to build to Sunday,” Blair Belling ’11 said. “We never think of Saturday as the whole thing. We left ourselves plenty of time to come back, but with no wind we didn’t have a chance.”

Both the coed’s and women’s teams have led New England racing throughout the season — the coed team placed first at the top-level event in six of nine weekends, and the women’s team won the Navy Fall Intersectionals and the Yale Women’s Intersectional — and hope to continue their streak after the winter recess, Belling said. And both regattas over the weekend were an excellent indication of the competition the teams will face at Nationals next May, sailors said.

“I feel like everybody made a lot of positive contributions to make it a really great season,” Belling said. “We met some of the best teams that we race in the toughest college sailing venue, and while it’s not exactly the note we’d want to end on, its not the worst. I’m excited for the spring season to begin.”

This weekend’s competitions featured sailors from all three Atlantic Coast Regions — Yale’s own New England region, plus the Mid-Atlantic and the South-Atlantic regions.

For the women’s team, winds at Narragansett Bay were less forceful than expected. In addition to the low four-10 knot north-northeast wind, a drizzling rain lasted throughout the day.

Because of light winds, only six races in each division took place Saturday. Four races were held in the A division on Sunday, but the scores from the second set were thrown out because only two races were held in the B division.

Sarah Lihan ’10 and Elizabeth Brim ’11 placed third in the A division with 51 points. The duo won the last race of the regatta, and placed in the top five four times. Claire Dennis ’13 and Heather May ’13 placed eighth in the B division with 68 points in eight races.

With 119 points over eight races per division, the team finished in third behind Boston College (107) and College of Charleston (109).

The coed Bulldogs also faced challenging weather conditions on the Charles as the remnants of Hurricane Ida drenched the fleet Saturday. With winds varying between 4 and 12 knots, sailors raced in Harvard’s FJ fleet and had to constantly adjust to the varying wind speed throughout the day.

“It was heavy rain with sort of light and shifty conditions,” Thomas Barrows ’10 said. “We didn’t really ever see much wind.”

In the A division, team-captain Barrows and crew Belling finished in the top five three times out of ten total races. Earning 74 points in all, the duo placed sixth in the division.

Joe Morris ’12 and Marla Menninger ’10 raced to a second place finish in the B division. The pair finished in the top five five times and top 10 in eight races.

All together, Yale finished fourth with 132 points, narrowly missing third place by one point to St. Mary’s. Boston College won the regatta with 99 points, and Brown placed second with 121 points.

“Boston College definitely sailed well in A division and brown also had very strong performance in B division,” Barrows said of Saturday’s competition. “Those teams separated themselves by having big leads in a division.”

Ten races were held in each division on Saturday, and on Sunday, the wind dropped to nothing, and all of the races were canceled.

“Although we didn’t end as well as we’d like, now it’s all about training over the winter, going to the gym and preparing for the nationals,” Morris said.

The teams will now break until February. The coed team will resume racing at the Frank Mendelblatt Team Race hosted by the University of South Florida and Eckerd College. The women’s team opens their spring by competing in the 29th Women’s Intersectionals at Charleston, S.C., on March 6, 2010.

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