Eighteen Teams advance to ICSA/Gill Dinghy National Championship

A start at the Semifinal Championships in Long Beach, CA - 2011 ICSA Eastern and Western Dinghy Semifinal Championships
It was another warm sunny day for the sailors at Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier at the U.S. Sailing Center in Long Beach, CA with temperatures in the high 70s. The close racing continued and challenged sailors as the day began with the Southern California Santa Ana winds fighting the sea breeze.

This resulted in some shocking puffs and fleet inversions where one part of the fleet was sailing upwind while the other part was sailing downwind. The race committee had to abandon several races due to the conditions and eventually posted a postponement until the sea breeze filled in and the wind direction settled so racing could resume.

Twelve races total were completed on trapezoid courses in both divisions in the Eastern Semifinal and eleven total races for both divisions in the Western Semifinal. There continued to be some big buildups and pinwheels at the leeward marks on the course making good boat handling and good boat placement key to come out of the pileups on top and without any fouls. The breeze stayed steady in the afternoon and by the end of the day puffs built to be around 14 knots.

In the Western Semifinals the racing stayed suspenseful until the end of the regatta with game changing events. The University of Rhode Island came into the day thirty points out of ninth place behind the University of Wisconsin, but in the second to last race everything started to change. URI finished the day winning the second to last race in A-Division (Matt Carmody, Maggie Craig, and Jamie Simmons) and placing third in the last race with their B-Division (Amy Hawkins, Caroline Hall, and Jeremy Henry) finishing the last two races in third place as well. Wisconsin could not keep up with URI’s clutch performance and placed in the double digits in the last races of the event. 'The wind came up which helped us and we put our heavy-air crew in the last race in B-Division it made all the difference,' explains URI coach Clinton Hayes. URI will advance to the Dinghy Nationals for the first time since 1994.

At the top of the fleet in the Western Semifinal Boston College set out to stay close with Roger Williams University in the pre-start of race 8B and unfortunately they got into a windward leeward situation where RWU the windward boat fowled BC by drifting into them to leeward. This helped BC close the gap and take the lead in the event, 'having a protest help us move ahead in the event is not a great feeling, but we sailed well and I am really proud of our team,' says Greg Wilkinson, head coach of BC. RW sailed a very strong event, but this violation caused the two teams right behind them, Boston College (defending National Champions) and Yale University to gain points and pass them in the standings taking first and second respectively.

In the Eastern Semifinals the Harvard University and Georgetown University sailors in both A-Division and B-Division continued to battle back and forth in the top of the fleet and while Harvard stayed on top for most of the day their A-Division boat had a rough last race placing 11th which put them one point behind Georgetown going into the last B-Division race. Georgetown was able to beat Harvard in the last B-Division race to win the event. Mike Callahan, head coach of Georgetown University explained that they did realize they had a chance to beat Harvard and set out to make sure it happened. They also had to keep their eye on the Naval Academy, who was closing in as well. The U.S. Naval Academy managed to pull ahead of College of Charleston who stood in third place after yesterday’s racing. While there was some place shifting among teams in this fleet, the top nine teams remained the same throughout the semifinal.

The University of Rhode Island and Old Dominion University are the two ninth place finishers in both semifinals who make the cut to go onto Nationals. They win the U.S. Sailing Grit Award for fighting hard and being in a position to advance to Nationals.

All of the close racing pays off for the top nine teams in both the Eastern and Western Semifinal groups as they will all advance to the ICSA/Gill Dinghy National Championships, May 30 – June 1, 2011 at the Gorge in Cascade Locks, Oregon. The tight competition will continue in the challenging conditions of the Hood River.

Tight racing at the Semifinal Championships - 2011 ICSA Eastern and Western Dinghy Semifinal Championships

Congratulations to the top nine teams in each event fleet advancing on to the Nationals:

Eastern Semifinals
1. Georgetown University
2. Harvard University
3. U.S. Naval Academy
4. College of Charleston
5. Stanford University
6. Brown University
7. Tufts University
8. Connecticut College
9. Old Dominion University

Western Semifinals
1. Boston College
2. Yale University
3. Roger Williams University
4. South Florida University
5. St. Mary’s College of Maryland
6. University of Miami
7. Hobart and William Smith College
8. Eckerd
9. University of Rhode Island


For complete results and event information visit the event website here
For event photos by Glennon Stratton visit GTS Photos here

The Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association (ICSA) is the governing authority for sailing competition at colleges and universities throughout the United States and in some parts of Canada. Visit the website to learn more.
http://www.sail-world.com/83065