Summer of 2016 is coming down to its final weeks and it has been a blast so far. It began with post season practice with my college sailing team. We spent the two weeks leading up to the ICSA National Championship practicing out on Boston Harbor with the Tufts team. After we brought the boats back onto the river we made one final trip down to Roger Williams University for a joint practice with several other schools.
|Mark rounding at ICSA Nationals.|
Nationals was definitely one of the most difficult regattas I have ever sailed in. The morning of each day of racing brought a light southerly wind that soon died and filled into the steady westerly San Diego is known for. These reliable sailing conditions and tough competition brought top level racing to the semifinals and final championship. I raced in the A-Division and at the end of the semifinals the BUDS finished 11th in A, 6th in B, and 8th overall. By the end of the finals we finished strong especially in the B-Division and placed 15th in A, 4th in B, and 8th overall. Several of our teammates received All-American awards later in the summer, which show they exemplify the true spirit of collegiate competition as well as high performance on the water.
After racing finished in California I returned to my home in Florida for a week before driving back to Boston with the F18 in tow. Once back up North I began practicing in the carbon Nacra 20 FCS, M32 (Marstrom 32), and F18. I have since joined 13Fifty Racing in their campaign for the American spot at the 2017 Red Bull Youth America's Cup. In order to prepare ourselves for this competition we have practiced in the FCS in order to get used to foiling and high speeds in a catamaran. The FCS is a 20 foot, all carbon catamaran with curved J-shaped main foils and long T-shaped rudders that lift the boat completely out of the water while sailing, greatly reducing friction between the boat and the water and raising the top speed the boat can achieve. It is not uncommon to average 25kts while sailing downwind with the spinnaker hoisted and exceeding 30kts on a run with just the main and jib. I have become quite comfortable sailing this boat on the foils and will use this experience to help my teammates progress.
The M32 has provided an excellent training platform for teams preparing for the Youth America's Cup. These boats are 32 feet long, approximately 18 feet wide, close to 1000lbs, fully carbon fiber, and are sailed with only a mainsail, furling gennaker, and 4-5 crew. They are also the same boats currently used on the World Match Racing Tour. We have used the M32 to work out team dynamics, try out new sailors, build endurance and strength outside the gym, and learn new tactics. The courses we sail during M32 regattas are nearly the same as those used in the America's Cup, allowing us to learn how to handle these unique tactical situations in a big fleet of catamarans. Reaching starts, upwind gates, and a revised set of sailing rules have made the racing all the more intense and fast paced.
|The Young Guns|
Next began a tour of the midwest and the first stop was Harbor Springs, Michigan where I intended to race on Escape Velocity, a privately owned M32 on which my BU coach sails. Unfortunately, during the practice day before the event I sprained my ankle and was not able to walk well for several days. This took me out of the racing, but even with only 4 crew members the Escape Velocity team sailed very well through the event. I spent that week on various support and mark boats, taking notes on both EV's and 13Fifty's performance. Since I couldn't sail I made the most of my time off the boat by learning from observing racing as well as sharing notes with my teammates to help them improve.
Following the Harbor Springs regatta I made a quick trip back to Boston in order to catch up with missed summer class work before heading to Wayzata, Minneapolis. At this venue I worked as part of 13Fifty Racing with the World Match Racing Tour to host a match racing expedition event on Lake Minnetonka. We assembled two M32s, attended several sponsor-hosted events, interviewed with local and regional news programs, took VIPs out for rides, spoke with junior sailors at the youth sailing center, and put on a show for the locals with eight match races. The goal of the event was to help set up a tour stop in Wayzata, beginning with a qualifying event, to bring more high performance racing to Lake Minnetonka, and to show younger sailors one pathway into professional sailing. The event was a huge success and I really enjoyed the time we spent there. The hospitality and support from the locals, sailors or non-mariners, made the event as fun as it was and I am looking for the next opportunity to return to the lake soon.
After missing nearly half of my classes this summer term I have to spend a week here in Boston to get caught up. Fortunately, I have kept up with the work and will finish strongly. Next weekend I will be competing in the US Team Racing Championship for the Hinman Trophy with a group of Tufts sailors. This will be a very challenging event and will help prepare me for team racing in the Spring college sailing season. The following week the BUDS will be reuniting in Newport for preseason practice where we will focus on getting more open water experience in 420s. At the end of that week I will resume my college academic and sailing schedule, but will continue working with 13Fifty Racing in our challenge for the Red Bull Youth America's Cup.