NEW HAVEN, Conn.- Early on the morning of May 24th, the Bulldogs will fly to Madison, Wisc., to begin the five-day journey that will hopefully culminate in a second straight National title. While the Bulldogs are considered slight underdogs to take the championship again, they have spent an intense week prepping for the big dance.
Nationals will be held May 25-28 on Lake Mendota on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The first day will be a semi-final competition for the last nine spots in the national championship. The Bulldogs are one of the 18 teams from across the country fighting to join the automatics in the finals. The second day will be a half-day of semi-final competition if at least six races have been completed in both divisions over the day and a half. If fewer than six races have been sailed then the semi-final competition will continue for the rest of the day. If six have been sailed then the finals competition will begin following a lunch break. May 27 and 28 will both be full days of sailing for the National Championship beginning each morning at 9:30. No race can begin after 5:00 p.m. on Friday.
The University of Wisconsin last hosted the event in 1996. They are extremely excited to host the event this year in conjunction with the Hoofer Sailing Club. Wisconsin is a perennial power in the Midwest and often travels east to participate in regattas in the Northeast. The Wisconsin women’s team qualified for the semi-finals and will get to sail on their home waters in their 420s. North Sails is providing the sails for the event.
The Bulldogs will face stiff competition in the semi-finals. Both No. 1 Boston College and No. 3 Charleston had off weekends at their respective regional championships, causing them to miss grabbing the automatic finals slots. While being assured of a berth in the finals is less nerve wracking, the Bulldogs will get some quality time on the waters of Lake Mendota and in the Wisconsin 420s. Much like lakes in the Northeast, Mendota can throw pretty much every condition at the sailors. The wind can range from none or very little to colossal.
Because of the unpredictable wind conditions, the Bulldogs are bringing a large contingency, providing them with options and a sizable cheering squad. Seniors Sarah Lihan and Rebecca Jackson, juniors Elizabeth Brim and Blair Belling, sophomores Genoa Warner, Stephanie Schuyler and Margot Benedict, and freshmen Emily Billing, Claire Dennis and Heather May will all be making the trip to Madison. Senior Marla Menninger will also be available to come off the bench for the finals once she arrives with the Co-eds early on May 27.
While the season has been a bit of a rollercoaster for the Bulldogs, they find themselves in the perfect position to peak at the right time. With plenty of motivation as well as vigorous practice, the Bulldogs are primed and prepared to sail their way, beat by beat, to the most important finish of all and to prove that rankings don’t mean anything if there isn’t a trophy involved.