With a clutch performance in the last few minutes of last weekend’s three-day ICSA Women’s National Championship, the women’s sailing team took second place — their best performance of the last three years.
After winning the last of the regatta’s 13 races, the Bulldogs finished just four points behind the winning Boston College Eagles to end their season and win the New England Women’s Trophy. They had entered the regatta seeded third. Three members of the team, skippers Emily Billing ’13, Marlena Fauer ’14 and Morgan Kiss ’15, were named All-Americans, making Yale the only school this year with multiple honorees.
“We wanted to sail how we always sail, let other people make mistakes and make use of those opportunities,” Fauer said.
Over the course of the competition, the Bulldogs climbed the standings. They ended the first day ranked sixth and battled their way to fourth by the conclusion of the second day.
When Kiss and crew Urska Kosir ’15 began the final race of the tournament, Yale hovered in third place, eight points behind the leading Eagles and just a few points ahead of fourth-placed Georgetown.
“We were always in a spot where we had the potential to do well,” Fauer said.
Kiss and Kosir had a fantastic start, assistant coach Bill Healy said. They led the race at the first mark, so far ahead of the competition that had the regatta ended, the Bulldogs would have come out on top. Rhode Island, which placed third in the tournament, had an early penalty and Boston College was struggling to stay in the race.
From the stands, Kiss and Kosir’s teammates looked on eagerly.
“It was pretty nerve-wracking,” Fauer said. “It was far away, but we knew there was a pretty good gap between Morgan [Kiss] and the Boston College girl.”
Yale led at the second mark and went on to win the race. But in the last leg, the Eagles came back, passing about six boats to finish fifth and retain their title.
Six of the eight Elis present competed in the championships. Fauer skippered in A-division throughout the tournament alongside Eugenia Custo Greig ’14. Billing and Amanda Salvesen ’14 started the first three races in B-division, and Kiss and Kosir raced the rest.
Kiss and Kosir just began working together this spring, Healy said.
“They gelled really well together and had great communication on the boat,” he said. “It was almost as if they could read each other’s minds.”
The duo only finished outside the top three in one of their ten races of the tournament. Yale won the B-division by 26 points.
The top four teams finished within 14 points of each other, remarkably close for a 13-race regatta, Fauer said. Boston College (142) and Yale (146) finished ahead of previously No. 9-ranked Rhode Island (150) and previously No. 1-ranked Georgetown (156).
Head Coach Zachary Leonard ’89 said Georgetown and Boston College were special threats going into the tournament. The two schools had “really excellent seniors” who had been competing in co-ed races all year. He added that the Bulldogs knew they needed to do a very good job if they wanted to compete.
“You have to try really hard to stay in it concentration-wise,” Leonard said. “Everyone stayed in it mentally, and everyone on the team thought we can do really well and contend to win.”
Yale also bested three Ivy League competitors in the field of 18: Harvard finished eighth, Brown ninth and Dartmouth 12th.
The conditions for the tournament, which took place on Lake Travis in Austin, Texas, were often quite poor. It was very hot, and the wind did not pick up until the middle of the last day of competition. Healy said that the dammed Lake Travis was down about 65 to 70 feet, making the wind shifty and light.
The Bulldogs ended their season with the most successful championship regatta since 2009. Last year, Yale placed fifth. The year before, the Elis did not make it past the semi finals.
“It was a rewarding few days after all the hard work and training we put in,” Billing said. “Hopefully next year we can go out there and win!”
Coed national championships run from June 6 to June 8 in Austin, Texas.