May 27, 2014

9th Ranked Women's Sailing Currently 2nd After Day One of National Championship Semi-Final

Annapolis, Md. (May 27, 2014) – The 2014 Intercollegiate Sailing Association's series of National Championships began today on the Severn River in Annapolis, Md. at the U.S. Naval Academy with the Sperry Top-Sider Women's Semi-Final Championship. The semi-finals are the precursor and qualifying event for the Women's National Championship slated to begin Thursday, May 29 at 9:30 a.m.

The semi-finals are divided into two fleets, an Eastern and Western semi-final, each with fourteen teams from across the nation. The top nine teams from each fleet will advance to the finals on Thursday. The competitors are racing in FJs and Z420s on windward-leeward four leg courses.

At the start of racing today the temperature was already warm at around 80 degrees with sunny skies and light winds from the west around 3 mph. Temperatures rose to the mid-eighties as the day progressed and the winds gradually shifted from the west northwest to the south southwest, but stayed pretty light and variable at around four to seven mph with gusts a little higher allowing for the sailors to hike at times. The sunny skies gave way to clouds and some rain at times. By the end of the day thunderstorms were threatening to hit the racecourse.

Racing began at around 10 a.m. and finished up just before 6 p.m. The Eastern fleet sailed Z420s today and A-division completed six races, while B-division only completed four races due to the threatening weather. The Western fleet sailed FJs today and both A and B-division completed six races. Tomorrow the fleets will swap boats and Eastern will sail FJs and Western Z420s.

"No two races were the same today," Skip Whyte, head coach for the University of Rhode Island (URI) says of the conditions today. URI is leading the Eastern fleet after today's racing and Whyte attributes their success today to having a great group on the water who made good decisions. "The conditions were so variable that everyone was in a tough spot at times," he says. "The girls would recover from dismal beginnings, which was possible because of the volatility of the winds.

Sailing for URI is Rachel Bryer '17 with Kaity Norton '15 and Fiona Christie '17 in A-division and Chanel Miller '14 with Nellie Hamilton '16 in B-division. Whyte says they are pleased with their racing today, but they know that the racing is only going to get more difficult as the event progresses.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology is only three points behind URI with 46 points and Stanford University and Brown University trail the two front-runners with 56 points.

Yale University is leading the Western semi-final 14 points ahead of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in second place and 18 points ahead of the defending champion of the Sperry Top-Sider Women's National Championship, Dartmouth College.

"We excelled today by connecting the dots," Brian Swingly, head coach of the Coast Guard Academy says. "We are still working on little things as we move towards the finals," he says, "one being fleet positioning, especially with how shifty the conditions can be." Although it was a long day today, Swingly says the Coast Guard sailors are focused, as this is the pinnacle event of the season.

Sailing for the Coast Guard Academy is Nikole Barnes '17 with Justine Morrison '13 in A-division and Kayla Ellis '16 with Christina Frost '16 in B-division.

The scores are close for the top nine teams in both fleets and the racing continues tomorrow starting at 9:30 a.m. Tomorrow will be the last day of racing in the semi-finals portion of the championship. The top 18 teams will be determined and they will advance to the finals on Thursday.

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