Although she’s used to sailing at the Yale Corinthian Yacht Club in Branford, Conn., or at home in Woodside, Calif., the waters near St Petersburg, Fla., proved to be no problem for Julie Papanek ’05.

Papanek tied for fifth place in the North American Women’s Singlehanded Championships, which were held at Eckerd College on Nov. 21-23. She qualified for the regatta by finishing fifth in the New England Women’s Singlehanded Championship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Sept. 29.

Coed team captain Kate Littlefield ’04 said Papanek represented Yale admirably well.

“Julie did an absolutely great job in really challenging conditions,” Littlefield said. “Julie hadn’t really sailed [at Eckerd] before and is more of a doublehanded sailor than a Laser sailor and did wonderfully well.”

Papanek is one of the top skippers on Yale’s nationally ranked No. 5 women’s sailing team, along with Molly Carapiet ’06, who finished second at the North American championships last year but did not qualify this year.

Carapiet said she was also impressed by Papanek’s performance.

“Julie did very well, especially the second two days, and we’re very proud,” Carapiet said.

Carapiet also added that many of the girls from the New England Intercollegiate Sailing Association, or NEISA, did well. Although Anna Tunnicliffe, a student at Old Dominion University in Virginia, dominated the event, three Harvard sailors finished second, third and fourth.

“The New England girls did very well,” Carapiet said. “It shows the depth of New England women’s sailing.”

In intercollegiate sailing, as opposed to other sports, many of the competitors often know each other or are friends. The top sailors at each school, who have been sailing on a high level since before college, almost invariably know each other. Papanek said that this environment provided for a friendly, healthy rivalry between herself and the Harvard sailors, especially since the championships were held the weekend of the Yale-Harvard football game.

“We all showed up wearing Game t-shirts,” Papanek said. “It was great competition.”

Papanek added that Yale assistant coach Bill Healy was a great help and encouragement for her at the championships.

“[Healy] really helped me out, especially on the first day when I wasn’t doing as well,” Papanek said.

The championships are sponsored by Vanguard Sailboats, which provides the boats and money for all the competitors to sail in brand-new Laser-class boats. The championship consists of 16 men and 16 women competing in separate divisions. The men sail faster, full-rigged Lasers while the women sail the slower Laser Radials.

Although there were three days of sailing rather than the standard two days as in other intercollegiate competitions, only 15 races were held due to light and often nonexistent wind the first two days.

Papanek said she would have liked it if more races had been held.

“I wish we had time to do one more race,” Papanek said. “It would have been nice to break the tie — one way or another.”

Although the North American championships are the conclusion of the fall sailing season, the Bulldogs will soon be back in action, as the intense spring season will be underway soon after sailors return from the holiday break.