Thursday, October 4, 2012

College Sailing Recap: The Danmark Trophy

By Samantha Bobo and Doyle Calhoun

This weekend’s top ranking collegiate event was the Danmark Trophy, hosted by the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. Twenty top college teams from all ICSA divisions came together to duke it out on the Thames River for this intersectional title. Last year’s winner, Hobart and Smith was back as well as second place Tufts and third place Yale. Teams from College of Charleston, Boston College and St. Mary’s were also in the mix and looking to assert their fleet racing abilities. After nine races in both A and B divisions, it was ultimately the Brown University Bears who ended up on top of the fleet with a total of 119 points - an eight point margin over second place BC and 13 points ahead of third place MIT.

The Thames River is similar to the Charles in many ways, especially when it comes to wind shifts. Very rarely is the wind direction a constant at this venue. Day one greeted competitors and event staff with light winds and strong ebbing tides, making the conditions extremely challenging for all. Because of the light and variable, doing one’s pre-start homework was crucial to getting off the line, especially with the fast moving current. The big issue was not just the speed of the current, but its variability in direction as well. From shore the current lines were easy to spot, but not so much out on the race course. This is where having a consistent pre-start routine was key. The winners of the day were those who were able to modify their strategy that best fit the constantly changing venue. Although playing the current was extremely important to great position in a race, it wasn’t the only factor. If one could dig into pressure and stay in phase, it was possible for them to make large gains, even if they were not able to get into any current relief. In this way, boat speed was crucial in order to finish in the top of the pack because keeping up speed through light air and adverse current is extremely challenging for even the best sailors. After completing seven races in A division, and six in B division, the race committee called it a day.

Day two met competitors with the same light northeasterly they had the day before, as well as the steadily increasing opposing current. Once again, the keys to winning the day were to stay in phase, stay in pressure, and keep up one’s boat speed. After completing three more races in A division and two in B division, racing was called due to lack of breeze, making it nine races total for the event.

The Brown Bears were able to maintain a comfortable lead from day one into day two by posting the most consistent scores of any other team on the water. With only two finishes out of the top five for their A Division boat as well as multiple top finishes in B division, Brown took home the 2012 Danmark Trophy for the first time since 1992.

Congratulations to Brown for their hard fought win on the tricky Thames this weekend.

For a report and full scores click the link below:

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