NEW LONDON, CONN. – After coming off a dominating performance last weekend at the New England Team Race Championship, the Bulldogs were not in their usual form this weekend, struggling to find consistency and clarity in the challenging conditions on the Thames River at the Thompson Trophy hosted by Connecticut College.
Sailing for the Bulldogs were skippers junior Nic Baird, first-year Shawn Harvey, and senior Casey Klingler in A,B, and C division respectively. With winds ranging from 3 – 20 knots over the course of the regatta, many crews saw action with heavy and light pairings constantly changing throughout the event. Some skippers sailed with as many as three combinations for the Bulldogs. The crew squadron for the Bulldogs were seniors KB Knapp, Claire Huebner, and Christopher Champa, sophomore Graceann Nicolosi, and first-year Claudia Loiacono.
After a brief wind delay on Saturday with amazingly sunny skis, an unexpected southerly breeze came in with a punch, becoming increasingly windy for the first few sets of the event. At the beginning of the day with a strong outward tide, current played a major factor, creating a large premium on executing a solid start at the pin end of the line and being one of the first boats to the deeper water pushing the boats upwind on the left side of the course. This bias was so strong that a poor start at the pin would be significantly better than a winning start in the middle of the line. The downwind of the race course was increasingly challenging as sailors were faced with the decision of weighing the current advantage that the right side of the course allowed from its shallower depths or the opportunity to catch the large puffs rolling over the easterly shoreline that would also help alignment with the course left gate for the next up wind.
Unfortunately Harvey and Knapp did not realize this the first race, having a great start at the boat but were never able to get to the current on the left side of the course. The next race they were able to quickly rebound, getting off at the pin.
Senior skipper Casey Klingler began the day sailing with senior Christopher Champa, a heavy pairing never seen before. The duo played the current and breeze well, having consistent finishes in the first five races.
As Saturday's racing continued, the breeze built to a consistent 10-15mph with puffs in the high teens out of the south. First-year crew Claudia Loiacono switched in as a heavy for first-year skipper Shawn Harvey as these conditions persisted.
As the sun began to go down and temperatures cooled, the breeze clocked left, switching to a tricky easterly that was blowing directly across the river over the hill. In these new conditions it was important to keep one's head out of the boat before the start and being the first boat to pressure. Recognizing marginal shifts to take back was essential as long lifts could persist throughout the beat with few chances to consolidate.
Sunday's conditions were a complete 180 from those on Saturday with freezing temperatures in the mid-30s, cloudy skies, and giant puffs that would come from the eastern shore easily peaking in the high 20s. The Bulldogs began the day with heavy pairings, with Baird sailing in A division with Loiacono, Harvey sailing in B division with Champa, and Klingler sailing C division with Champa and Huebner. The Bulldogs struggled to get off the line and be the first to the shift all day, making mid-fleet comebacks extremely difficult. The wind was up and down throughout the event, with both Knapp and Nicolosi seeing action towards the end of the day.
With this weekend behind them, the Bulldogs will shake off their 8th place finish and work hard to get into the fleet racing mindset at practice this week. With one weekend before the coed nationals qualifier, the Bulldogs can easily workout the rust to be back at the top.
In A divison, Nic Baird, Graceann Nicolosi, and Claudia Loiacono finished 6th, in B division Shawn Harvey, KB Knapp, Claudia Loiacono, and Christopher Champa finished 10th. In C division Casey Klingler, Chris Champa, KB Knapp, and Claire Huebner finished 6th.
Full scores can be found at http://scores.collegesailing.org/s18/thompson/C/.
Report filed by KB Knapp '18, Yale Sports Publicity