The No. 5 Yale sailing team is well ahead of schedule.

The Elis finished second overall at the Danmark Trophy at the Coast Guard Academy last weekend, earning a berth in the Atlantic Coast Championships. The Bulldogs have qualified for the ACC in the past but have typically not clinched a spot until late in the season.

“It was really awesome that we did that well,” captain Meredith Killion ’05 said. “We usually end up qualifying at the end of October.”

Despite unfamiliar conditions in New London, the Elis were able to secure the second place spot by putting up consistent performances in both A and B divisions. Stu McNay ’05 skippered the A boat with Killion and Benoit Bewley ’05 as crew. The Bulldogs finished fourth of 18 in the A division. Skipper Phil Stemler ’07 and crew Jenn Hoyle ’05 raced in the B division on Saturday. On Sunday, Molly Carapiet ’06 skippered the B boat, with Hilary Shapiro ’08 and Emily Hill ’07 splitting crew duties. The Bulldogs finished second in the division, 33 big points in front of third-place Dartmouth. St. Mary’s College, which won both divisions, wrapped up the regatta handily.

The Danmark Trophy is one of the most important intersectional regattas of the fall season and has implications for championship events later in the fall. While the Elis have qualified for the ACC over the past few years, they have typically not clinched a spot until the Schell Regatta, held at MIT at the end of October.

“The regatta was fairly important, granted not a championship, but the top two New England teams get berths for the ACC,” Phil Stemler ’07 said. “All the best teams from the East Coast were racing, and it was the biggest sailing event of the weekend.”

The Bulldogs have had a successful fall season to this point but expected the Danmark to be their most difficult challenge so far.

“We had been doing well all fall,” McNay ’05 said. “We had been top four in every intersectional, but we knew the Danmark would be the most challenging. We had hoped to finish in the top five, and we ended up finishing second.”

The course at the Coast Guard Academy, at the end of the Thames River in New London, Connecticut, also presented a potential challenge for the Bulldogs.

“The venue at the Coast Guard Academy is not really what were used to,” Killion said. “It’s on a river, and it is always flowing out. When the tide is going out, the current gets pretty strong.”

It is noteworthy that the Elis fielded a different team in B division on each day of the event. Stemler and Hoyle, sailing in ten races on Saturday, ended the day in second place. Carapiet, Shapiro and Hill continued the successes through eight races on Sunday, holding second place through the end of the event.

“We switched to give the boats a chance to sail in really good competition,” said Killion. “We were definitely the only team at the regatta that switched skippers and teams and we still did so well.”

The Coast Guard Academy is also unique in that it has two separate fleets, meaning both A and B division races occur at the same time. Killion said that this often provided an emotional boost.

“Stu and I would have a bad race and we would be bummed. Then we would look and see the B boat winning their race. It was really a great team effort.”

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