One Long Hot Summer of Learning

This has been one long and hot summer of learning and growth for me!

This is the 16th summer of my life and it is proving to be one of many lessons as I take the opportunity to drive my new Chevy Truck and by boats around the country in an adventure that will surely be the start of many exciting adventures of my sailing career.

David drives his Viper F16 in the Gulf of Mexico

David drives his Viper F16 in the Gulf of Mexico

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that I started the summer at Sail Newport and then Bristol Yacht Club in two amazing clinics that helped me to set the direction of my training for the summer. These two clinics were tremendous in that I was able to sail and hang out with large groups of other teenage athletes, which is something that I do not get to do as often as I would like since the Cat crowd tends to be a lot older of a group than I am used to (hint to those friends of mine that love to go fast…HELP ME CHANGE THIS and come out and sail cats!).

After Bristol, I headed back to my Summer home in Cleveland, Ohio where I had the opportunity to do some maintenance on my boats and get them in better sailing condition (faster) for the remainder of the summer.  I was also confronted with a need to find someone to sail a couple of events with in a hurry, and this proved to be difficult.

Sailing Catamarans is exciting. For Optimist, 420 and even Laser sailors that are used to letting the wind push them around the racecourse, sailing an F16 is so different.  To start with, when you sail at speeds over 20 knots everything happens fast. So fast that you have to get used to thinking two and three steps in advance so that you can perform well. But I know that looking at the cats from those other boats is intimidating mainly because of the huge sail area and the speed at which we blow by everyone else.  Let me just recommend that you come out and give it a try, It will be the most fun you ever have on a boat…I promise!

So finding someone that is both willing to take the plunge and has time in their busy sailing schedule proved to be a near impossibility. We all live such active lives and our schedules of summer sailing are filled with trips, regattas, clinics and little if any time to breathe. The good news is that I have a list of people that want to sail, so I have people to hop onto the boat with in the fall! the bad news is that finding last minute crew continues to be problematic.

I ended up working with Max to free up some time so we could practice more and be ready for the US Sailing Youth Champs in Corpus Christi, Texas next month. So we met in Clearwater for two solid weeks of training with Red Gear Racing.  This time proved to be valuable as Max and I were able to meld more as a team and were able to focus on our combined movement on the boat and our coordinated efforts to squeeze every ounce of speed out of our boat. After our time in Clearwater, we had a few days off.

In this down time, I took the opportunity to drive down to my home in Miami for a day so I could pick up some things I had forgotten when I left back in May. Then I headed back up to Cleveland. I have go to tell everyone at this point that it perplexes me as to why the gasoline companies like BP, Exxon, Shell or others don’t invest in a coordinated marketing program to the sailing community.  How many of us drive extensively with big heavy trailers behind our gas guzzling trucks to get from one regatta or clinic to the next? I know that I am spending over $4,000 in fuel this summer along and I am only one boat out of thousands that travel around the USA every summer!

While in Cleveland, I spent three days wetsanding my Viper F16 to make sure that she was as fast as can be for the upcoming regattas. Unfortunately, those three days were the hottest days of the year which made for hot tempers and hours upon hours grueling manual labor ashore. When I was finished, I could literally see my reflection in the bottom of my boat and I am 100% certain that I have the smoothest boat that will be at Nationals and Youth Champs!

Breeze on at Sail Newport Hein/Hudson 2013

Then I hit the road for a week of practice with Max in Racine before the National Champs at RYC. This will really be the first regatta that we have sailed in together, so it will be important for us to keep clear heads and to communicate while racing and to have frank discussions between races so we can make important changes to get to our best performance under the pressure of an important series of races. This is the one and only chance for us to race against great sailors before we begin racing at the US Sailing Youth Champs four days after Nationals ends.

I am looking forward to sailing in Texas. Youth Champs is the ultimate regatta in the country for teenage sailors.  The one regatta where the best of the best get to battle it out against one another to see who comes out on top! I am also looking forward to spending time with my friends off the water and enjoying the regatta filled with athletes my own age that are all working hard to be the best they can be.  I personally think it is awesome that we play a sport where we are fierce competitors while racing on the water, doing whatever possible to gain an edge over one another; but when we get back to the beach at the end of the day, we are all friends and enjoy talking about the day and offer suggestions to how we can improve at battle the next day!

After Texas, I am putting my F16 away for a while as I head up to Oakcliff Sailing Center in New York for the NACRA 17 National Championships. I will be sailing with Katie Flood and since this will be our first regatta on the boat together, it will be the opportunity for us to set a baseline for where we will need to focus our training to be ready to win Gold at the ISAF World Cup Miami Olympic Class Regatta in January.

I am working hard, keeping an open mind and learning as much as I can…all while having a blast learning to be independant and “on my own” as I head full-speed into my Olympic challenge to get to Rio in 2016! Wish me luck and keep following my efforts along the road.




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