2014 ISAF Youth Worlds

This past week I took advantage of a special opportunity to travel abroad. I went to Tavira, Portugal in order to represent the US Sailing Team at the 2014 ISAF Youth World Championship. This is the same regatta that I attended as a US representative last year and this year's edition of the regatta surpassed last year's with even more learning, intense competition, and fun both on and off the water. This trip was the first time I traveled internationally without my family and I learned how to navigate through foreign and domestic customs as well as experienced a diverse culture where the primary language was not English, but Portuguese. After spending 7 days in a row on the water, however, I am happy to have returned home safely and to share my experiences from this event.

As soon as the US Youth Worlds Team arrived in Tavira, we set up our daily itinerary and stuck to it in order to develop a routine for the week. We woke up at 8am every day, left for the regatta venue by 10:30, and spent the remainder of the day preparing our equipment, practicing, and actually racing until we returned back to the host hotel late in the evening. Some days wore on longer than others; during one day of racing we left the boat park at 9pm! And that was before the windsurfing fleet had returned to shore. Despite losing a few hours of precious sleep time as well as competing all day in the sun, the US Team remained strong and consistent throughout the event. When it came time for the closing ceremony two boats from the US Team, the mixed skiff (Quinn Wilson and Riley Gibbs) and the women's singlehanded dinghy (Haddon Hughes), received silver medals. Nico Schultz and I just barely missed earning the bronze medal in our mixed multihull fleet and ended up in fourth place by the end of the regatta.

A flag from each competing nation.
One of the best aspects of the ISAF Youth Worlds experience is having the opportunity to meet new people. The coaches this year, Kevin Hall and Mike Kalin, and the team leader, Leandro Spina, provided us with the tools and guidance required for our success. Without their help it would have been difficult for our team to manage the distractions and remain unified and competitive throughout the week. While we were off the water we had the opportunity to talk with other sailors and make new international friends. These will be the same sailors from my generation that I will be sailing with and against for my entire life.

The ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship is a unique opportunity where education, friendship, competition, and athletic excellence can be found. At the end of the regatta it is not only your finish position but also the lessons learned, connections made, and ideas shared that create a memorable experience. I would highly recommend setting this regatta as a goal for any youth sailors who are still eligible to attend because what is learned through this opportunity is of priceless value.