2014 F16 World Championship

I just recently arrived back home after spending the past week traveling to and sailing in Newport, RI. This week was full of many adventures, experiences, and memories, all of which taught me valuable life lessons. I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Newport and racing in the F16 Worlds; however, after spending a week away from home living with several other sailors and approximately 50 hours towing a trailer I am glad to finally be home and back on my regular training schedule.

The whole trip started on Thursday June 19th when we began the drive. All of Thursday afternoon and Friday was spent in the car taking turns behind the wheel. We didn't hit bad traffic until we reached New York City, where we decided to take a short break from driving to get a nice dinner in order to avoid rush hour traffic while crossing the Hudson River. We arrived at the regatta venue, Sail Newport, on Saturday morning and after rigging the boats, greeting fellow competitors and friends, and moving into our home for the week we were able to get acclimated to the change in scenery and explore Newport. I had already sailed in Newport once before, but since this was several years earlier at an Opti regatta it was still a new experience.

Sunday and Monday were both spent practicing out on the Narragansett Bay where the race course would be placed. This time was quite beneficial to my teammate Sam and I as we had implemented several new systems and upgrades to the boat prior to coming to Newport. This included carbon rod rigging in place of the standard stainless steel wire that holds the mast upright. These carbon rods are much stiffer, lighter, and thinner than the wire, increasing the sensitivity of the boat and platform as well as decreasing the overall weight and windage of the boat. With this new rigging came new boat settings and we used our precious practice time before racing to figure out our optimal mast rake and rig tension settings in all wind conditions.

Racing began Tueday morning and we were fortunate enough to have a consistent breeze of 10-15 knots with occasional sustained gusts in the upper teens. Unfortunately, we had a mechanical issue during the first race of the regatta when our spinnaker halyard cleat pulled out of the mast. Sam and I quickly sailed to our coach Jim Zellmer and repaired the rivets on the water. After missing the first two races of the regatta in our preferred sailing conditions our spirits were beginning to break; however, we knew that this was going to be a long regatta with 15 races on the schedule and we approached the following races with a fresh mind. In order to make up for this loss we worked very hard to win the next two, keeping us in a good position to place well by the end of the week.

Day 2 of racing had similar conditions and wind direction as day 1, but with less velocity and more dispersed wind lines. We were able to maintain our hot streak through the first race of day 2 by placing first and we kept consistent scores for the remainder of the day, all in the top 5. Day 3 brought light wind from a new direction with a forecast of rain and thunderstorms in the afternoon. After a survey by sailors and conversation with the race committee, which was a new way of making decisions at this world championship, racing was postponed on shore until late in the afternoon and then finally canceled for the day. Even though we did not have the opportunity to sail and stay on schedule with races, we were able to see more of the city of Newport. The Etchell World Championship was held during this same week out of the famous New York Yacht Club and it was very interesting to see the list of competitors for this event as it included several former world champions and professional sailors.

Racing resumed the following day and in order to make up for our lost time the race committee ran 5 more races for a grand total of 13. We started out the day strong with several top finishes, but during the third race we had a problem with our spinnaker retrieval line wrapping on the forestay, putting us just two points out of fist place by the end of the regatta. Sam and I finished as the 1st youth, 1st American and 2nd overall team and even though we were slightly disappointed with our performance this is still quite the achievement for us.

Sarasota Youth Sailing was strongly represented at this regatta. Another youth team consisting of a brother and sister, Nico and Sophia Schultz, also came to the event and placed very well despite fighting through some tough situations that were similar to those Sam and I faced. They also missed two races on day 1 of the regatta, but they quickly recovered from this and ended the regatta on a great note by winning the final race.  They placed 7th overall which was still a strong finish in this World Championship. Sarasota Youth Sailing has come a long way with it's youth multihull team and it is great to see how we are benefiting from this program and getting good results at top regattas.

Now came the time to leave Newport and drive back home. The trip back to Florida was quite uneventful and now that I am back home I have some time to reflect and learn from last week's experiences. I learned that it is absolutely essential to be prepared for any boat issue that could arise on the water and that boat prep work is key prior to a big event. I also learned that even though I may face several obstacles and setbacks, it is important to keep the bigger picture in mind and to continue progressing forwards. I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel with my friends and sailing partners and the memories I have created will remain with me for the rest of my life. I must thank my family, coaches, friends, and teammates for their continued support as without their help I would not have been able to make last week a success.

The remainder of my summer will be quite busy leading up to the beginning of my school year in September. Mid July I will be traveling to Portugal with Nico Schultz and competing in the ISAF Youth World Championship. This is the same regatta that I sailed in last year with Sam as a member of the US Sailing Youth Worlds Team. After I return back to the states I will be sailing an F18 in the Hyannis Regatta off the coast of Massachusetts late in July. Near the end of August I am planning on sailing the Nacra 17 National Championship at Oakcliff Sailing in New York. I am not pursuing an Olympic campaign for the 2016 games as my primary focus is my education at Boston University, but, as it is important to stay competitive and learn as much as possible, I am attending as many regattas as I can fit in my schedule. Continue to check this blog in the weeks to come because I will be posting updates about my travel and sailing experiences!