Friday, September 21, 2012

College Sailing: Mrs. Hurst Bowl Recap

By Samantha Bobo

Teams from all over the country convened on Mascoma Lake in Enfield, NH last Saturday for the Mrs. Hurst Bowl, hosted by Dartmouth College. Twenty-two teams, including powerhouses Old Dominion, Boston College, Yale and Roger Williams, came to duke it out at this women’s intersectional.  Connecticut College, the 2011 winners, were back to try and defend their title. Last year’s second place team and 6th ranked Yale was also in the field of teams. Georgetown and Old Dominion were also vying for a top three finish with the help of new freshman. After two days of windy, shifty conditions the Yale Bulldogs were able to assert their dominance with Claire Dennis and Katherine Gaumond crushing B division with a lead of 45 points over second place Tufts, as well as a solid third place finish by their A division pair - Emily Billing and Amanda Salvesen. This strong finish in both divisions indicates that the Yale ladies could be a force to be reckoned with through the rest of this fall season.
Competitors on day one were greeted with chilly weather and a building north-northwest breeze. Considered to be “truly champagne conditions,” the wind was a steady 15 knots with gusts to 20 and the sun was shining brilliantly into the valley as the ladies took to the water. There were steady, whitecapped waves rolling down the lake as the race committee blew the first start at roughly 10:00am that morning.

Mascoma Lake is a challenging venue to sail for even the best sailors, as the surrounding mountains act as barriers creating strange shifts that come across the lake in puffs that could either make or break your race. The key to success in such shifty conditions was to distinguish the difference between a small knock and a massive header. The right and left shifts tended to be huge, lasting 3-5 minutes at a time, allowing boats in phases to come almost close to layline in one tack. It came down to doing one’s prestart homework on which side is favored now? How long do I have till it shifts back? Starting in phase, in pressure, and on the lifted tack was essential to good position in every race. The surrounding geography was hilly and caused the sides of the course to fill before the middle, so if one was stuck on the midline as a shift came through, they could expect to stall and drop back a few places. This feature made playing the sides strategic, in that one had to commit to a side and almost guess at which was going to be the favored side in the end. After sailing four sets in both A and B division, racing was called for the day with the Yale Bulldogs were on top by a solid 38 points, followed by Boston College and Tufts.

On day two, the sun was shining and the wind, while still puffy and shifty had calmed to an easy 6-12 knots. Teams showed up to rig at 9:30 am and took to the water for a 10:15 am first start. The A division sailors took to the water first, showing the spectators and waiting B sailors on land that they could expect the same “inconsistent consistency” they had experienced the day before. The gusts were smaller and at points the wind would die almost entirely, then fill again from the sides, which made being caught in the middle a near “death” sentence. This made catching the correct shifts and being in phase off the line even more important than it had been the day before, because the pressure was just as inconsistent as the wind direction. After numerous general recalls, and one race abandoned, the race committee concluded the day with two more sets for both divisions for 12 races total.

The Mrs. Hurst Bowl is a women’s ICSA event named for the wife of Captain Hurst, a naval officer who came to Dartmouth College to reform the ROTC program and coach the sailing team. Congratulations again to Yale for winning the 2012 Mrs. Hurst Bowl and thank you to Mrs. Hurst for providing the incredibly tasty baked goods for the event. Dartmouth College would also like to thank alums Ed Jude Glackin ('11) and (Bernie Roesler '12) for dedicating their time to their former team and helping run the event.

For more info and full results click on the link below:

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