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Women’s Collegiate Sailing Nationals day 1

by Jennifer Mitchell on 24 May 2011
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Today was the first day of racing for the final berths to the Sperry Top-Sider/ICSA Women’s National Championships. Eighteen teams competed today for a spot in the top nine that will allow them to advance to the final round of competition for the Gerald C. Miller Memorial Trophy. The top nine from this round will be added to the nine already qualified teams in the Final Round of Nationals.

The Finals are scheduled to begin tomorrow afternoon.

There was a slight delay to the start of racing this morning with a committee boat breakdown, but once the sailing got started it was a good day on the Columbia River Gorge. The sun was in and out with an occasional shower and temperatures hovered in the low to mid 50s. The air seemed chilly especially with the westerly breeze blowing down the river at 15-18 mph with gusts to 25 mph in the afternoon. The current was ripping in the river making for challenging conditions for the competitors. The courses run today were Windward/Leeward’s either four or five times around. Both A-division and B-division were able to complete six races.

The most challenging aspect of the day was getting used to the strong currents that would carry the sailors over the starting line early, therefore, making sure to time starts accurately became an essential part of the day. The upwind legs were very quick moving as the boats were sailing with the current, but once they reached the windward mark to turn downwind the racing would halt, 'the current compressed the fleet on the runs changing the pace of the race because once you rounded the mark everything slowed tremendously,' says Mitch Brindley, president of the ICSA.

It was a good day for New England sailors, the top four teams are from the New England district and leading the event all day were Yale University (New Haven, CT) sailors Claire Dennis ’13 with Heather May ’13 in A-division and in B-division Emily Billing ’13 with Amanda Salvesen ’14. 'Being patient on the downwind is what set us apart in the racing today, people would cross in the middle of the run too early. It was about staying consistent and not making big mistakes,' says Salvesen. In preparation for the event the Yale sailors spent a lot of time discussing the conditions that they were going to face in the Gorge and they were ready for the windy conditions.

Behind Yale is Brown University (Providence, RI), whose sailors also enjoyed sailing in the big breeze, but John Mollicone, head coach of the Brown Team says, 'tomorrow we will be better on the starting line.' Sailors Elizabeth Barry ’11 and Jessica Claflin ’13 in A-division and Emily Dellenbaugh ’12 with Cecilia Strombeck ’11 suffered being over early in their second B-division race, but will certainly have learned about the conditions today to prevent it tomorrow. There were a couple general recalls today, but not as many as one would expect with the boats travelling at almost six knots in the current.

There is a 60-point spread between first and ninth places with fifth – ninth place only a few points apart. It was a day of close competition and the conditions mean that anything can happen on the racecourse. The prediction for tomorrow is for lighter breeze, which will help to keep the races moving and hopefully keep the sailors from capsizing and having to chase down their boats in the strong current. 'Today we saw standard spring Gorge weather, with puffy winds and some light rains, but we are on target for tomorrow to get our minimum of 8 races off in each division,' explains Kyle Eaton, the regatta chairman.

Racing will begin again tomorrow at 9 a.m. for the First Round women’s. If all of the required races are completed in the morning, racing is set to begin for the Women’s Final National Championships Round at 1 p.m. Find full results and follow the racing and scores live on the event website: 2011nationals.collegesailing.info

Top Nine Teams
1. Yale University
2. Brown University
3. University of Rhode Island
4. U.S. Coast Guard Academy
5. Old Dominion University
6. Georgetown University
7. Eckerd College
8. Harvard University
9. University of South Florida

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 www.collegesailing.org to learn more. The ICSA National Championships are sponsored by Sperry Top-Sider (www.sperrytopsider.com), Annapolis Performance Sailing (www.apsltd.com), Gill North America (www.gillna.com), and US SAILING (home.ussailing.org).
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