Hitting the southern seas, the Elis opened their spring season with a splash. For the fourth year in a row, the Bulldogs won the Mendelblatt Team Race in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Sweeping the team race 7–0, the Elis quickly recovered after a long winter on land.

“We do this every year,” women’s captain Blair Belling ’11 said. “It’s a nice way to get ourselves situated.”

Unable to practice in Long Island Sound since November because of the brutal Connecticut winter, the team headed south on Thursday to get in a few training runs before competition started Saturday morning. They sailed until lightning forced them off the waves.

“We had Friday to practice, but the wind and the rains were insane,” Belling said. “We only got 15 minutes. So we just thought, ‘We’ll just go for it. We’ll be fine.’ ”

Mike Hession ’10 added: “We got blown out in a pretty spectacular way with lots of boats flipping.”

The field was split between two venues: USF and Eckerd College. The Elis sailed out of USF on Saturday where racing officials got in 10 races. College of Charleston, the Elis top opponent at the race, was in the Eckerd College division on Saturday.

“It was pretty windy and very shifty, but flat water,” Thomas Barrows ’10 said of the conditions. His only complaint was that it was chilly for a Florida event with the temperature hovering around 50 degrees with a 10-degree wind chill.

As in all collegiate team races, the Elis sailed three double-handed boats in each race.

Former team captain Barrows skippered with crew Belling. Newly elected co-ed captain Joe Morris ’12 skippered with Hession. Sarah Lihan ’10 skippered with crew Liz Brim ’11.Proxy-Connection: keep-alive

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t was Lihan’s first team-race regatta.

Sunday, the breeze faded throughout the afternoon, causing a 45-minute delay. The Bulldogs remained at the USF venue with the top half of the competition. College of Charleston, the only undefeated team who had sailed at Eckerd College on Saturday, changed venues and joined the Elis at USF.

“The racing went by slowly. We just finished the Gold round in time and had no time to do the planned final four,” Hession said. “The challenging race of the day was against College of Charleston in very little breeze, but we managed to tack with them and stay in the lead.”

By the end of the day, despite delays, the Elis kept their perfect record and won the regatta 7–0. College of Charleston placed second, sailing 6–1.

Back north, the team is hoping to catch a few days on the water before spring break and the beginning of the thick of northeast collegiate season.

The next scheduled event for the Elis is the Tom Noble Team Race at Washington College in Chestertown, Md., on Feb. 27 and 28.