It’s been a week now, and the Sailing World Cup Miami is in the books. It is great tracking the PNW women in their campaigns. To compete at that level is very special, and these young women are doing the Northwest proud. Here’s a retrospective on how it went for them all.
In the Laser Radial class we have Hanne Weaver. While she would certainly have liked a higher finish, she was the fifth US sailor. Hanne was kind enough to share her thoughts:
Miami World Cup for me was a challenge. I had a hard time getting off the line this year. I had a training camp prior in Miami at the beginning of January with the USA Sailing Team. That helped me a lot with windy condition. I came early to Miami World Cup to do more training before the event start. I perfected my down winds and increased my boat speed. Like always the training days are never like the regatta. It was lighter the first two days of racing. The Laser Radial class didn’t race the first day due to that lack of wind. The next day we started first. I had a difficult time getting off the line which made it very hard to pass boats. I didn’t finish that great. After that it became windy, I don’t think it got below 20knots. It was all about hiking hard and hitting the left, and don’t tip over. On the 26th all classes didn’t race due to the high winds that came through, but the last day we races 3 races in once again 20+ knots. I made a few mistakes up the course by tacking too late or not getting on that wave on the downwind. I took this regatta as I have nothing to lose. I didn’t start out that great but I ended on a good note. Just because you have a bad first few races doesn’t mean you should give up. Anything can happen when you have a 5-day regatta.
Looking ahead toward the Olympic berth, we have Paige Railey still on top after taking some time off. She’ll be trying to make her third Olympic Games. All the Radial sailors will be pushing her hard, and at age 30 Paige is by no means the youngest in the class. This will be a fun class to watch in the coming months and I know a whole lot of Northwest Laser sailors who are rooting for Hanne.
Don’t look now, but here comes Kate Shaner in the 49erFX class. She along with crew Charlotte Mack are newcomers to the game and gaining speed and technique by leaps and bounds. Best of all, you just have to like the attitude. You can see in the pictures and from her writing that Kate is enjoying herself. That is, I believe, the foundation of boatspeed. You gotta love it. Kate wrote about the event on her web site, and has allowed us to share it hear as well:
We’ve just wrapped up our first international competition as a team. Last week Biscayne Bay played host to over 500 top notch sailors from all over the world. While our scoreline shows less than stellar finishes, we progressed by leaps and bounds each day of the event, and the inspiring level of competition and incredible atmosphere gave us motivation to take lessons learned back to our training. Huge thanks to the event organizers and our event coach Udi Gal for getting us through the week!
Day one of the event saw light to nonexistent breeze; the FX fleet waited several hours on shore before finally launching and getting in two light races. The first, we struggled with keeping speed and height through the lulls. By the second race however, we sorted through the changes that needed to be made to our upwind technique and earned a top ten finish.
Day two was slightly windier, enough to bring the boats to full power. Light to moderate conditions de-emphasize boat speed– everyone goes fast. The most important part of the races by far were the starts, which we struggled with. Our lateral positioning against boats and accelerations were good, but we were too far back from the line. We intend on putting in some solid hours of starting line practice these next few months.Day three got “fresh.” Wind gusted from 18 – 25 knots, sea state was 3-5 ft short chop. The FX course was downwind of the harbor, boats had to execute well timed bear-aways and jibes just to make it to the race. A few boats turned around and wentin immediately. It took most of the fleet several attempts to turn down before making it to the course. After our second try, our coach gave us our helmets to wear. Helmets are a relatively new piece of safety equipment in sailing. While serious head injuries do happen relatively frequently, especially in skiff sailing, sailors prefer to have their heads free to feel the wind. Most of us don’t wear them, even if we should. Neither of us had ever worn one in competition. Putting them on, however, took away the fear of injury and gave us both the confidence to push ourselves in difficult conditions. Any thought of hiding onshore with the other new teams vanished. We made it to the line in plenty of time for our start.
We approached the race with more “can do” attitude than technical ability; our upwind speed was off the pace slightly. This didn’t matter too much. Half the fleet capsized at the first windward mark. We waited for an easy wave set before bearing away, and nearly impaled a poorly placed coach boat in the process but got the kite up cleanly. We executed a stable jibe in the corner, where many others flipped, and came screaming in to the leeward gate. Unfortunately, when we arrived another boat had flipped with their mast across it, making it impossible to get through. We flipped avoiding them.
The boat came up quickly, and instead of attempting to bear away again, we backed our sails to slide between the gates, then turned upwind. The breeze built, and we bounced off wave peaks up the course, our centerboard coming out of the water. We’d gained some confidence in our tacks, and were able to use them to gain advantage on a few faster boats before the windward mark. We got around clean, and then looked for a good spot to jibe into the finish. A missed grab on the main sheet lead to our second capsize. This took longer to right as we had to douse the kite in the water.
When we came upright, we didn’t risk putting it back up. We reached, both of us on the back corner on the wing, straight towards the finish. We were in 7th place, 20 boat lengths from the finish line when the time limit expired. Five boats finished within the time limit.While it was disappointing to miss out on a top 10 finish by minutes, it was encouraging to know that after 27 days in the boat together we could put up a good fight. There was no racing the next day due to too much breeze. No classes sailed. Qualifying series was over. However, the opportunity to watch the medal races the next day and learn from the top 10 teams in the men’s and women’s fleets gave us a better idea of the target to aim for. Over the next few months, we will continue training and begin to focus on the specific mechanics that define excellence in our class. Can’t wait to get back on the water.
We’ve already been lucky to get a check-in from Helena Scutt (originally of Kirkland, Washington) during the Miami event. Along with skipper Bora Gulari, she’s tackling the relatively new Nacra 17 foiling catamaran. To hear her describe crewing on the beast, it sounds like she’s moving all the time. I guess that’s what happens when you don’t have a bunch of guys on bicycles powering hydraulics to adjust the foils like they did in the America’s Cup. And, really, I’m guessing here. Gulari and Scutt capsized in the medal race, but the bigger point is they made it to the medal race after a very limited time sailing together.