F18 Americas Championship

This past week I chose to miss four days of school in order to take advantage of a unique opportunity. The F18 Americas Championship was held out of my local sailing club, the Sarasota Sailing Squadron, and I decided to miss school in order to compete. Prior to this event I spent two days a week practicing with Sam, my teammate, perfecting our boathandeling maneuvers and boatspeed. We had spent a large amount of time training in the F16 before the summer so the transition to the F18 was not too drastic; however this larger boat is much more powerful so we had to alter our mark roundings and depowering techniques to accommodate this increase in power.

I started out the week of racing by competing in the annual Buzzelli Multihull Rendezvous. This regatta served as the Stiletto Nationals and a great warm up for the upcoming Americas Championship. We had eight boats registered for the F18 fleet but around fifteen boats raced on our course. We were able to get five races off on Saturday but on Sunday we were unable to get any races off due to a lack of wind. The sea breeze fought the remains of a front for the entire day, creating glass water and cloudless skies. Fortunately we had a several top finishes in the races that were sailed and we finished this regatta in first place.

Tuesday was the first day of racing for the Zhik F18 Americas Championship and the conditions were similar to those in the Buzzelli Multihull Rendezvous. We had light wind for the first four races of the regatta and we took wins in two of these four races, but unfortunately we were OCS in race 3. This score became one of our discarded races for the regatta and hurt us initially in the overall results. Wednesday brought completely different conditions than what we had raced in the previous days. Another cold front caused a rapid drop in temperature overnight and created a strong frontal breeze consistently blowing in the upper teens that lasted up until Saturday morning. We made and achieved our goal for the windy races: finish within the top fifteen in order to remain in contention for a spot within the top five. We were not the fastest boat out on the race course on the windier days, but we used our local knowledge and tactical experience to keep us in the front of the pack. We made several mistakes during these races, including beginning races with second row starts and not capitalizing on our gains in the fleet while we could; however we quickly learned and saw consistent improvements throughout the regatta.

Video is the property of Sam Greenfield. Thank you for putting this great video together for us! It truly highlights what youth multihull sailing is all about!

Saturday presented more light wind conditions in the Sarasota Bay. We got one final race off to end the regatta and Sam and I were able to put all the pieces together and pull off a win. This race moved us up from fifth place to fourth and we ended the regatta as the second junior team which included sailors aged 23 and younger, third American team, and fourth place overall.

This regatta taught me many lessons over the course of a whole week. I learned how to manage a large catamaran fleet as we had 56 boats out on the course. Managing a big catamaran fleet uses different tactics than the management of a large dinghy fleet; boatspeeds are much higher and it is slow to make several tacks to cover the fleet. I learned how to get first row starts on a long starting line in a big fleet and how to pace myself during a long and tiresome regatta, especially while on the starting line. One single bad start, such as our one OCS of the regatta in race three, makes it much more difficult to finish in the top of a large fleet. This race initially put us out of the top ten, but through hard work and persistence on the race course we were able to work ourselves back into the top five. Seventeen races also take a toll on a sailor both mentally and physical by the last day of an event and it is important to use free time between races and while off the water to assess the strengths and weaknesses of each day so improvements can be made. This entire week was a once in a lifetime opportunity to compete in this regatta against world renown sailors at my home venue and I am glad I chose to take four days off from school for this event. It is commonly said that having the home field advantage helps, but our results at this regatta show how much we have been training and how this hard work pays off.

The full regatta site is here.

Results for the regatta can be seen here.

Pictures taken by Tim Wilkes here.

All regatta reports from Scuttlebutt can be found here.

All of the regatta videos from each day can be seen here.

Catsailingnews.com posted several reports about the event that can be found below:
Day 1 Report
Day 2 Report
Day 3 Report
Day 4 Report
Catsailingnews Final Report
Final Report by Annie Gardner