SAILING | Bulldogs advance despite tough conditions

The coed team squeaked into the national semifinals after finishing sixth overall at the NEISA Dinghy Championships last weekend.
The coed team squeaked into the national semifinals after finishing sixth overall at the NEISA Dinghy Championships last weekend. Photo by Zeenat Mansoor.

Over a weekend of shifty winds and difficult sailing conditions, both of Yale’s sailing teams emerged with their goals met: The women’s team sailed to their fourth consecutive regatta victory, while the coed team qualified for the national semifinals.

In New London, Conn., the women’s team raced to a big win at the Wick & Shrew Trophies hosted by the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, finishing 55 points clear of second-place Tufts University in the regatta. Skipper Morgan Kiss ’15 and crew Urska Kosir ’15 won the A division by 14 points, while skipper and team captain Marlena Fauer ’14 and her crew Katherine Gaumond ’15 finished 25 points clear of the second-place boat in the B division.

The victory extended the team’s win streak to four regattas, an accomplishment that Fauer said is not making them complacent.

“I think our winning streak makes us hungry for more,” she said. “We want to keep up the energy and dominance we established through these wins all the way up to nationals.”

Once again, the Bulldogs were forced to adapt to wind that varied drastically across the weekend. On Saturday, a light northwesterly wind in the morning shifted to the southwest by afternoon, and on Sunday the opposite occurred, as the early southwesterly wind shifted to the northwest by the end of the day’s racing.

Fauer attributed the team’s performance to its ability to start races well.

“For Kate [Gaumond] and I, we were always trying to get a start that would allow us to win, rather than a start that would just put us in an OK position,” she said. “This past week of practice, our focus was definitely on perfecting our starts — that is what really led us to our success this weekend.”

While the women wrapped up their victory in New London, the coed team squeaked into the national semifinals after finishing sixth overall at the New England Intercollegiate Sailing Association Dinghy Championships hosted by Brown.

The event, also in a two-division format, was sailed in particularly challenging conditions. On Saturday, unstable northwesterly and southerly winds led to the race committee negotiating throughout the day whether or not to continue racing. Fortunately, no teams filed protests, and six races were completed in each division despite the poor weather.

Sunday saw more of the same, as stronger 6–16 knot north to northwesterly breezes continued to shift throughout the day, making for difficult race management for the sailors. The Bulldogs finished ninth in the A division and sixth in the B division to place sixth overall in the regatta. The top eight teams advanced to the ICSA Semi-Final Dinghy Championship on April 27–28, in Hampton, Va.

Head coach Zachary Leonard ’89 said that the team, which snapped its four-regatta win streak this weekend, still has much room for improvement.

“It wasn’t an easy weekend for the sailors, and I’m sure they’ve got a lot they know they want to work on moving forward,” he said.

Skipper Graham Landy ’15 attributed a poor week of practice to the subpar performance.

“Last week, we lost a day of practice to no wind and a day of practice to bad weather and too much wind,” he said. “We probably could have benefitted from some more time on the water.”

Although the team was disappointed with the result, the Elis still have a chance to advance to the national finals when they compete in the ICSA Semi-Finals in two weeks, hosted by Hampton University.

The women’s team will travel to Tufts next weekend for the Women’s New England Championship. The event is the first of two steps to qualify for the ICSA Women’s National Championship at Eckerd College on May 21–24.

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