Thursday, October 18, 2012

College Sailing Recap: The Danmark Trophy

By Samantha Bobo
Recap contributions by Doyle Calhoun

Last 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 William Smith, was back as well as second place Tufts and third place Yale, who were aiming to dethrone the defending champions. Teams from College of Charleston, Boston College and St. Mary’s were also in attendance and looking to assert their fleet racing skills. 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 win over second place BC and a 13 point margin of victory over third place MIT.

The Thames River is similar to the Charles in many ways, especially when it comes to wind shifts. Rarely is the wind direction a constant at this venue. Day one greeted competitors and event staff with light winds and strong ebbing tides, which made the conditions extremely challenging for all. Pre-start homework was crucial to getting off the line, especially with the fast-moving current. The big issue was not only the speed of the current, but its variability in direction as well. From shore, the current lines were easy to spot, but not from the race course. This is where having a consistent pre-start routine was key. The winners of the day were those who modified their strategy best to fit the constantly changing venue. Although playing the current was extremely important to great position in a race, it wasn’t the only solution. 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 seen 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 boat speed. After completing three more races in A division and two in B division, racing was called due to lack of breeze. There were 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 the Brown Bears 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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