Sailing looks to make a splash at national championships
By Matt Stanton, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Wednesday, May 30, 2012
After placing as one of the top nine teams at the Intercollegiate Sailing Association Eastern Semifinal, the Dartmouth coed sailing team will compete in the ICSA Dinghy National Championship, which will be held on June 6-9 in Austin, Texas. The women’s team qualified for the ICSA women’s national semifinal, which is set to begin today at the same venue.
All of the events will be sailed in Club Flying Junior boats, which are manned by a crew of one sailor and the skipper. The racing will take place on Lake Travis and will be hosted by the University of Texas and the Austin Yacht Club.
Lake Travis last hosted the national championships in 2005, when sailors were treated to consistent wind speeds around 12 knots and good weather throughout the competition. Conditions this year should be similar, despite a significant drop in water level due to a drought. With more land exposed, there will likely be more wind shifts off of the land, making it less of a boat speed race and more of a tactical race, according to Carissa Crawford ’14, one of the sailors in the women’s race.
“Our coach [John Storck] won the team race and coed nationals [at Lake Travis] seven years ago, and when he was here last, the lake was about 60 feet higher [than it is now],” Crawford said. “The lower water level will lead to flatter water since waves won’t really have a chance to build.”
The women’s semifinal, which consists of 18 boats, is scheduled for an 8 a.m. report time and a first race warning at 10 a.m.
Crawford will race with New England Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association 2012 Rookie of the Year Deirdre Lambert ’15. Both women received all-NEISA honors earlier in the season and are expected to make a splash in Austin.
“We’re looking forward to the chance to compete against the best in the country,” Lambert said. “It is a unique opportunity and one that teams don’t get all the time, so it is really awesome that we were able to do well enough this year to get the chance to show our skills in this context.”
Sailing is a sport in which adapting to the conditions is crucial, something that the team’s training has stressed throughout the season.
“The training we do for nationals has really just been working hard all year,” Lambert said. “Putting in time and good, focused practice exposes you to all sorts of wind and conditions, which is crucial in order to be prepared for what competition will throw at you.”
The conditions can even change who sails, something the Big Green needs to consider in each race to be as fast as possible. If the wind picks up, Crawford may be replaced by Catie O’Sullivan ’14, who has a size advantage over Crawford.
“If the wind is strong, that heels the boat over, something that slows us down,” Crawford said. “Catie’s weight would flatten the boat to make us go faster.”
The women’s group will sail until nine teams make it out of the semifinals to join the nine previously qualified teams to compete for the championship. Racing will commence in a single round robin format and continue until June 2, when a women’s team will be crowned national champion. The Dartmouth women’s team placed fifth out of 17 teams at the NEISA Women’s Championship to qualify for the national semifinal.
The Dartmouth men will join the Dartmouth women on Lake Travis for the coed dinghy national championship, slated to begin on June 6 at 8 a.m. The coed dinghy team qualified for nationals after it placed eighth out of 18 teams at the ICSA national semifinals on May 13.
“The most important factor will be consistency,” Matt Wefer ’14 said. “At a regatta with this many quality teams, everybody is going to have bad races. The factor that separates the top few boats from everyone else is the ability to stay away from the really deep races and take advantage of the opportunities to have good races when they are presented to you.”
Eighteen coed teams will compete in single round robin racing through June 8, when the Henry A. Morse Memorial Trophy will be crowned. The Big Green last competed at the national final in 2007, when the team finished second to the College of Charleston.