It’s that time of year where everyone is getting excited about the Orange Bowl Regatta and spending the end of the year in Miami!
My first time sailing in Miami was my first OB regatta. I was only 9 years old and sailing in the green fleet in the Optimist class. Being from Cleveland, Ohio I new nothing about sailing in the winter, or even that people really did that. We always went skiing at Holimont for Christmas and thoughts of sailing didn’t even happen until March when my parents started talking about Sail Camp at CYC. But this year my oldest sister, Lianne was a senior in highschool and she talked my parents into taking her to sail “just one time” at Orange Bowl Regatta. Since she was sailing, my dad registered me too!
Up to this point, I had only sailed in I-LYA regattas and while I was climbing up the fleet, I was only just starting to figure out how to trim my mainsail and big fleet tactics were nothing I ever encountered. Since we were flying down the day after Christmas, we chartered boats from McLaughlin Boatworks. We got to Coral Reef Yacht Club that morning and I was overwhelmed by the number of sailors that were in Miami to sail. They were everywhere. Walking down the streets, eating at all the restaurants, in all the hotels…sailors took over Coconut Grove. It was the most incredible thing I have ever seen.
Who knew that in a sport as obscure as sailing that so many people my age from all over the country and around the globe would come to Miami to sail in the Orange Bowl Regatta for the Holidays? That year I made a ton of friends, got to sail in Biscayne Bay for the first time and learned that sailing was the most fun I have ever had in my life. Sailing in a fleet of hundreds of sailors was so much different than the 6-15 boats I was used to on Lake Erie. The Orange Bowl Regatta is one regatta that every youth sailor in the USA should experience at least once in their sailing career!
Of course, this “one time” trip to Miami became an annual tradition for my family. We have spent Christmas here every year since then and it has become sort of a homecoming of sorts as so many of the friends I have made while sailing around the country and all over this planet. It is amazing how many people you get to know and the depth of friendships you make in this sport and how those people continually pop into your life at regattas you would never expect to see anyone at.
Today my life is so much different than back then. I will be back in Miami next week from school in Boulder, Colorado and will be in Miami until the Olympic Sailing Trials the end of January in the NACRA 17 where I hope to win the trials and represent USA in the Rio Games in 2016. The Trials take place over the week of my birthday, where I have celebrated my birthday for the last 4 years at the ISAF World Cup Regatta as part of my Olympic Campaign, sailing against the top athletes in our sport as we all hone our skills in working towards the Olympics. The funny part is that so many of us started our sailing career in Miami at the Orange Bowl Regatta over the years. It definitely is a great way to live life!
Will you please help my win the Olympic Trials next month by donating $20 today to my training?
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