This past week was an experience unlike others I have had in the past. High levels of competition, international interaction, and new friendships were all factors that made this event a huge benefit to myself both as a sailor and as an individual. I am very grateful for having this opportunity to travel abroad and I am applying the lessons learned this past week to better myself both on and off the water.
I arrived in Cyprus with my family on July 12th early in the morning and was surprised by the landscape; I had expected to see a tropical island with a large abundance of green and vegetation, however instead I saw dry desert-like land and old buildings. This scene made me realize how different this part of the world is compared to my home. My family and I spent our first day getting accustomed to the time change, meeting the other US teammates and our coaches Andrew Campbell and Zach Brown, and learning about the city of Limassol.
|The Ajax Hotel in Limassol, Cyprus.|
I ended up staying with the US team in one of the three regatta hotels. Several other countries were also staying there and this allowed us to introduce ourselves and make some new international friends. We received our sailing equipment on Saturday, two days before the event, after waiting in the long line for regatta registration behind many other countries. After taking some time to get the boats set up and tuned to our liking, we were finally able to head out on the water for a short one hour practice. Sam and I paired up with the SL16 team from Singapore and got in some valuable practice time before heading in and returning back to the hotel. Sunday was our first official practice day which we used to set our pace for the rest of the regatta. We got up at the same time as we would for the rest of the week, rode the bus to the venue, sailed at approximately the same time of day that we would be racing, and headed back to the hotel for dinner after a long day out in the sun. The entire day went without too much excitement, except for a broken mast on the French SL16. Luckily the boat suppliers had a spare that they interchanged with the broken spar.
Monday began racing for the regatta. The entire week followed a consistent schedule which provided excellent racing conditions. We would head out on the water at around 11:30 and get three races done every day, except for the final day where we only had one race scheduled. The conditions couldn't have been any better; the wind filled in at around 11:00 every day and built as the day progressed into the 12-15 knot range with the third and fourth days of racing building to 15+ knots. The water, a deep blue color, provided decent sized waves that posed a challenge for the SL16s as they tend to stuff their bows into the back of waves on the downwind. This made for some big gains on the downwinds for the teams that had good control of their boat and caused some interesting wipeouts!
The racing during the week was at a level that I was not used to. All of the top teams had as good if not better boatspeed than me and called sound tactics out on the racecourse. One significant disadvantage that Sam and I had was a lack of experience in the boat. The SL16 is very different from the typical multihull that we sail in that it lacks daggerboards. This causes it to power up less quickly and to slide sideways in the water more than I am used to occurring. Several of the teams in the top five had attended the SL16 World Championship prior to the ISAF Youth Worlds and placed very well, showing their expertise in the boat. I believe that if I had gained a significant amount of experience learning how to sail this boat to its full potential prior to this event I would have been able to execute tactical decisions with less worrying about boatspeed issues. Regardless of this, I am very happy with how I performed at this event and I see that I can only improve from here.
|Leeward mark rounding competing with Belgium and Spain.|
Overall, I learned a lot at this event and created new friendships that will last the remainder of my sailing career. The experience that I gained at this event will greatly benefit my sailing in the future, but this entire trip would not have been possible without the support of my parents and entire family, coaches Zach and Andrew, and all the other individuals who helped organize US Sailing's participation in the 2013 ISAF Youth World Championship.
|Team USA during the opening ceremony parade.|
|Sam and I with our coaches Zach Brown (left) and Andrew Campbell (right).|
During the event the US team had a blog that was updated with news about all the sailors. A link to this blog can be found here
. Check it out!