Yale sailors were looking to end the fall season with a top-five finish at the Atlantic Coast Championships, but a lack of wind played against their strengths.
The No. 2 women’s sailing team concluded their fall season with a seventh-place finish at the Women’s Atlantic Coast Championships in St. Petersburg, Fla. while the No. 8 coed team placed eighth at the Naval Academy hosted Coed Atlantic Coast Championships.
“It’s sort of a culmination of our fall season,” Claire Dennis ’13 said of the Women’s Atlantic Coast Championships. “At the same time, it’s a motivator for spring.”
One week after Dennis won the Women’s Singlehanded Championships at the University of South Florida, she returned to St. Petersburg with three of her teammates in order to compete for the Women’s Atlantic Coast Championships.
Dennis skippered in the A division with crew Heather May ’13. The two have worked together all season, and their chemistry paid immediate benefits when the duo won the third and fourth races. But they couldn’t keep up that success as they finished 13th and 16th in the day’s final two races.
“Usually for us, when we start off with some pretty good races, that motivates us to perform well for the rest of the regatta,” May said. “But Saturday was a really long day. We were on the water from 9:30 in the morning until 5:30 at night. I think we just got really tired and worn out. I think both mentally and physically, we were just drained.”
In the B division, Marlena Fauer ’14 and Eugenia Custo Greig ’14 worked together as they have for most of the season. The pair started the regatta off slowly and were unable to break into the top ten until their fifth race.
“The first couple of starts we had a rough time getting off the line,” Custo Greig said. “Considering that the breeze was so steady, there weren’t any shifts to allow you to make gains.”
After the wind picked up later in the day, Custo Greig said that they felt more comfortable and did not finish lower than eighth throughout the rest of Saturday’s racing. At the conclusion of Saturday’s competition, the Bulldogs were in fifth.
“Our goal is to always finish in the top five,” May said. “Our main focus was to concentrate on starting in each individual race.”
However, Sunday brought very little wind, which made it difficult for sailors to make moves on their competitors. Dennis and May posted inconsistent finishes ranging from as high as fourth to as low as fifteenth. Fauer and Custon Greig won the final race of the regatta, but they also had three finishes worse than 13th. Dennis and May ended their season with a seventh place A division finish while Fauer and Custo Greig settled for ninth.
“I’m not particularly excited about it, but I’m not upset about [the result],” May said. “With high expectations, we kind of fell short which is a little disappointing. It shows that we have a lot to work on before the spring.”
At the Naval Academy in the Annapolis harbor, members of the coed team competed for the Coed Atlantic Coast Championship. Unfortunately the Bulldogs, they were not proficient in the light and unchanging winds they encountered on Saturday.
“They were not very good for a championship,” Joseph Morris ’12 said of the sailing conditions. “The organizers and all the sailors did their best to adapt.”
Morris skippered the A division boat with Blair Belling ’11 as crew. The two got off to a hot start placing third in the first race and winning the second. The pair’s next two races produced sixth and thirteenth place finishes.
In the B division, Chris Segerblom ’14 and Elizabeth Brim ’11 started the meet with similar success. They took two top-threes in their first four races on Saturday. However, that was the extent of the racing as the judges ended Saturday’s competition after only four races in each division. At the conclusion of the Saturday round, the Elis sat in third place.
“The breeze shut off,” Morris said. “They weren’t very fair conditions, but [the judges] decided to race us. We had a good day on Saturday when things were more stable.”
On Sunday, it appeared as if the regatta might already be over. Teams did not take to the water until 11:00 a.m., when a three-to-five knot breeze started.
“I was just hoping that we would get sailing,” Morris said. “On Sunday, it was even lighter, and there was a lot of chop. There were kind of a lot of weird factors that made it pretty difficult to sail in.”
Morris and Belling only succeeded in cracking the top ten once out of Sunday’s four races. Segerblom and Brim had similar troubles; they finished 11th in each of their first two races. Cameron Cullman ’13 took over for Segerblom for the final set and contributed by skippering to a fifth-place result in the final race. However, it was too late for the Bulldogs as they had already fallen to seventh overall. While the team is disappointed, they are focusing on the positives.
“It’s hard to look back on a championship regatta that was only eight races and think of it as a full series,” Morris said. “We had a good day on Saturday when things were more stable. It’s a young team overall, much younger than the ones we were competing against. We feel good about it. Everyone is moving forward with a positive attitude.”
The Atlantic Coast Championships marked the end of the sailing teams’ fall season, but they will begin anew in February with their eyes set on a national championship in May.
“It was definitely a good fall,” Morris said. “We recognized what our strengths are and we’re happy about those. I think everyone is pretty excited about the spring already.”