This past week I sailed in the Sailing World Cup Miami regatta.
The 2014 Sailing World Cup in Miami was a huge event which occupied much of my mindset and my time over the past several months. The regatta serves as the qualifier for the 2014 US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider and the Development team. In addition, this years event was the selection event for the Rio Olympic Test event and the 2014 ISAF World Sailing Championships. So it was arguably the most important event for US sailors who are competing in Olympic classes.
Having made a last minute change in skippers for this regatta, Steph Hudson and I spent a total of 9 days on the water together training for the event. Clearly not much time for the level of competition we were facing, and considering it was Steph’s first time sailing a NACRA17, that added another unique aspect to our challenge. We honestly did not go into the event with a lot of high expectations. We knew we were fighting an uphill battle.
We had been training in unusually light breeze for Miami in January and knew that the unusual conditions were not likely to stay around for long. Each day we went out onto Biscayne bay leading up to the regatta we were faced with winds ranging from 2 up to 10 knots. Knowing that the regatta historically provided 18 knots, we were grossly unprepared. But we were going in with our eyes wide open and we were just pushing to sail our best in every single race.
The breeze for the first two days of the regatta proved to hold out as unusually light. Just what we had been practicing in. We sailed fairly well and at the end of day 3 we were the 2nd place team for USA and 16th overall! By far much better than we had expected and we had momentum and some confidence going into the rest of the regatta. Day four we experienced a bit more breeze, up to 16 knot gusts and the breeze was shifting as much as 70 degrees during a race, making it difficult to plan a leg or hold a position from one leg to the next. We had three races which proved to be the worst of our regatta, and the last race we came back and held our own. By the end of the day we had dropped to 22nd overall and 4th USA team with the 3rd, 4th and 5th position USA teams all separated by only one point!
Friday, the last day of racing proved to be a bust. We launched with no breeze and sat on the bay until almost 3 pm. before the race committee hoisted AP over A and then by the time we got to the beach AP over H, ending the Sailing World Cup Miami regatta for us and everyone in the fleet. We ended up in 22nd overall and 4th American team in the NACRA 17. Our results were better than expected but not as good as we could have done in the light and shifty breeze. All in all, I am pretty satisfied with the sailing and the results we accomplished.
The next few weeks following the Sailing World Cup Miami will be spent training in all conditions, with the majority of our time out in the Gulf Stream so that we can prepare for the conditions we will likely see in Palma and Hyeres in the spring. As planned, Steph Hudson and I will not continue to sail together but I will continue to train with Stephanie Robel and evaluate potential partners for the remainder of the Sailing World Cup series and the ISAF World Championships coming up later this year. I clearly understand the importance of having a quality and dedicated partner who has the vision, determination and time to put into training ad competing on a rigorous and highly competitive schedule throughout the remainder of 2014 and through 2015 as we prepare for the US Olympic Trials in 2016.
The lessons i have learned and the experiences I have gained up to this point in my campaign and at the Sailing World Cup events have changed me as an individual and have made an impression on me that will last a lifetime in sailing and every aspect of my life. My sponsors of Serpentini Chevrolet, Jaguar PT, The US Sailing Team Sperry Top-sider, Harken, Kaenon and SEA Gear along with the multitude of individual campaign donors have given me the ability to sail at an elite level over this past year and are driving me forward towards the top of the fleet as I strive for Olympic Gold in Rio 2016! Sailing in the Sailing World Cup Miami and the remainder of the SWC regattas are going to shape me as an athlete and an individual as I sail against the top athletes in the sport! I simply think it is awesome to know that I love Sailing World Cup Miami and simply sailing in general. It is the best sport there is!