Lady sailors look to slide into nationals after slipping

by Mark Davis | 4/24/02 5:00am

The members of the Dartmouth women's sailing team have no choice but to sit and wait to hear whether or not they will be going to the ICSA Women's National Championships, due to a disappointing sixth-place finish at the New England Championships this past weekend.

The national championships, which will be held at the University of Hawaii on May 27-31, base qualification entirely on one event. For the Big Green, this event was -- unfortunately -- the New England Championships at University of Rhode Island.

Since the number of qualifying teams from each district is not determined until all of the districts compete, and because the Big Green did not place high enough to automatically qualify, the Dartmouth women will be left blowing in the wind until the Northwest district finishes its qualifiers.

The prospects for the Big Green making it, however, are quite slim, with the number of teams qualifying from each district based upon a percentage of the number of teams showing up to the qualifying regatta. At the moment, the numbers are not in Dartmouth's favor.

The competition at Rhode Island was the first upset of the season for the Big Green, as it could only keep its score down to 132 points between its A and B divisions. Yale captured the win with an impressive 61 points, followed by Brown University with 86, Connecticut College with 94, Tufts University at 107 and Boston University with 112.

"We were definitely favored to be one of the qualifying teams at Women's New Englands, and so it was a huge disappointment to not qualify," Cindy Keppel '02 said.

"The site was an extremely shifty venue, with 180-degree windshifts a few times each day Saturday and Sunday. Because of that, we were not able to get enough races off to balance a few in which we were mid-fleet."

"The championships this past weekend were a huge disappointment for our team," Jen Morgan '02 added.

"We've finished either first or second at the nationals for the past 3 years (my time at Dartmouth) so to not even qualify was quite an upset."

On the plus side, however, Dartmouth seniors Jen Morgan (No. 4 skipper), Cindy Keppel (No. 1 crew) and Meaghan Gragg '02 (No. 10 crew) were selected as All-New England Sailors over the weekend. The only teams with more sailors named to the list were Brown and Yale, with five and four respectively.

"Regarding the All-New England list, it's an honor to be chosen by your peers. I think it says more than just your results, that you are respected by those you compete against every weekend," Morgan said.

"When it comes down to it, I'd rather have the respect of my competitors than another trophy. It says great things about our team to have so many sailors recognized."

Keppel, on the other hand, was not quite as upbeat.

"As far as being named to All-New England, I think all of us were happy, although it certainly didn't make up for not performing well this weekend," Keppel said.

On the men's side of the competition, John Diskant '03, Lindsay Reardon '03, Scott Linthicum '04 and Greg Hill '02 destroyed the competition at the Oberg Trophy, winning the Greater Boston Championship hosted by Boston University on Sunday.

The Co-Ed squad of Kevin Horrigan '02, Amory Loring '04, Scott Hogan '04, Christina Lyndon '04 and Vanessa Green '05 faced a daunting task as the sailors raced for the Thompson Trophy at the outer beaches of the Thames River.

The 18-team field at Connecticut College was composed of 14 teams that are currently ranked in the top-20 nationally, including teams from as far away as University of California-Irvine, University of Hawaii and the College of Charleston. However, the Dartmouth sailors responded to the pressure, finishing fifth overall to validate its current No. 6 ranking in the country.

In other co-ed racing, Garrett Holmes '05, Rachel Holmes '04, Jon Kling '04 and DeAnna Fernandez '04 extended Dartmouth's lead in the Metro Series with a win at Tufts on Saturday.

Coming up this weekend, many of the Dartmouth sailors will have another chance to qualify for nationals at the Team Racing New England Championships, hosted by the Coast Guard Academy. Dartmouth is sending the teams of Morgan/Keppel, Horrigan/Loring, Hogan/Lyndon and Diskant/Amanda Dwelley '03. Only two teams qualify from the region, but some of the Big Green sailors feel pretty confident.

"Cindy and I are putting all of our energy towards that and are really working hard to qualify for the Team Racing Nationals," Morgan said. "Only two teams qualify from New England, so the competition will be tough and to qualify is quite exciting."

"The New Englands will be the toughest regatta of the whole year, but we stand a good chance of making it," Keppel said. "The racing is going to be really tight, but I know that we are all hoping it works out."

Elsewhere next weekend, the Metro Series will continue, with Dartmouth traveling to Boston College this time, and the third leg of the Western Series will be held at the University of Vermont. In addition, the Women's Regis Bowl and Marchiando Team Race will be hosted by Dartmouth.

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