Two Eli skippers qualified for the U.S. Sailing Team after competing at the 16th annual 2005 Miami Olympic Classes Regatta.

All-Americans Stu McNay ’05 and Molly Carapiet ’06 were two of over 320 sailors hailing from 26 countries to compete in the five-day regatta, which took place on Miami’s Biscayne Bay from Jan. 24 to 28.

McNay and crew Graham Biehl, a freshman at the University of California-Irvine, sailed in the 470 division, placing fourth out of 20 boats, including both male and female teams, in 12 races. Out of the 11 male teams, the pair took third.

McNay and Biehl placed second among the U.S. men, qualifying for the U.S. Sailing Team in their event.

“Usually it’s a hybrid ranking system, but this year being right after the Olympics, they didn’t have time to schedule any earlier events, so they let the OCR be the [only] ranking event of the season,” McNay said.

McNay said he and Biehl got together because their combined weight was appropriate for the class.

“We decided to team up because we are the right size,” he said. “I’m larger than most skippers and he’s larger than most crews, so in combination that works well.”

The Elis were outsailed by a Dutch team and another U.S. team. McNay said the American pair that finished ahead of him had an advantage because they had been practicing together throughout the winter.

The weather presented a slight challenge, McNay said, as the wind conditions were not ideal.

“The breeze was quite light the whole time so we didn’t get tested on all of our skills,” he said. “It probably would have helped us if it were a breezier event.”

Overall, McNay said he was pleased with his performance in the races.

“I thought we could have done better in the later half of the event, but Graham and I accomplished our goal, which was to be ranked in the top two of the U.S. team,” he said.

The second-place ranking among the American teams in the division may have long-term benefits for the pair.

“I’m psyched about our ranking, which will put us in a position to be watched by the U.S. Sailing Committee — so we might get some substantial grants to keep sailing in the future,” he said.

Carapiet and crew Whitney Besse, who graduated from Brown University in 2003, also sailed in the 470, placing 11th overall and sixth out of nine teams in the female subdivision. The pair also qualified for the U.S. Sailing Team by placing fourth among the U.S. teams.

Carapiet said there are many benefits to being on the national team, ranging from coaching to monetary support, depending on how high a team is ranked.

Although not a consideration this season, the rankings also determine which sailors represent the United States in the Olympics during Olympic years.

“Now [that] we are four years out of the Olympics [the rankings are] just kind of a stepping stone,” Carapiet said. “In four years, the number-one person will go to the Olympics. Right now we are just trying to work up to number one.”

Carapiet also said she was happy with her performance considering the pair’s relative lack of experience.

“A lot of the girls racing us had more experience then we do in the boat,” she said.

Isabelle Kinsolving ’02 also competed in the event as crew in the fifth place women’s team.