Well, that’s a wrap on our 5 week adventure in Florida! After three regattas, it feels like ages since we spent the first three weeks of January in Fort Lauderdale. We owe a huge thank you to the Toppa family for hosting us so graciously while we trained in Miami for Midwinters and Sailing World Cup Miami. We enjoyed lots of healthy food (homemade fish tacos, turmeric shots, and gluten-free chocolate cake, anyone?) and Libby was so kind to help Helena treat her carpal tunnel syndrome. During this period, we met with our sports psychologist, strength and conditioning coach, and tactics coach. It was exciting to start the year off by building our relationships with these experts! The first event, Midwinters, boasted 32 of the 40 teams that would be at Sailing World Cup Miami a week later, so we treated it as practice for the big fleet competition. The three-day event kept everyone on their toes as it gave us relatively light, but shifty winds. Starts and tactical maneuvers stood to be the biggest challenge for us and we will continue to work on shifting our tactical mindset for different conditions. With a fleet of 32 boats, we finished 16th and top USA team. During the week after Midwinters we refocused and got set up for Sailing World Cup Miami where the top American would qualify for the Pan American Games in July.
On the first day of Sailing World Cup Miami, big-breeze survival skills distinguished those who finished the only race of the day from those who didn’t. Out of the 40 boat fleet, only 7 boats finished due to the heavy wind and short chop. The race was all about keeping it simple and keeping the boat upright. Although we were one of the 32 boats that received a DNF that race, we still started and finished the race but we missed the time limit by 1 minute. We were also relieved that we weren’t one of the boats that broke a mast in the shallow waters next to the racecourse. The next 5 days of racing were all very similar with moderate but extremely shifty winds. The pattern of challenges we faced in Midwinters were the same for Sailing World Cup Miami. At the start we found it very difficult judging the distance we had to the line and pulling the trigger to accelerate relative to the boats surrounding us. Since we started in the second row the majority of the starts, it made the rest of the race really hard trying to catch boats rather than keeping them behind us. Poor tactics and strategy decisions throughout the six-day event led to disappointing results that we are determined to put behind us. Although we were top American, qualifying us for the Pan Americans in July, the whole event in our eyes was a disappointment. There is so much work to be done and it was a reality check. After Sailing World Cup Miami, we drove four hours northwest across Florida to Clearwater, on the Gulf coast. We had a three-day practice period before the North American Championships began. It was fun to share our story with the local media: Tampa Bay Times and Bay News 9. The four-day event quickly turned into a three days when there was no racing on the first day because of the combination of the strong wind and sea state. There were breaking waves that make sailing in and out of the channel extremely difficult, not to mention very shallow water even 2 miles offshore. Our first day of racing had many ups and downs. Overall, we put ourselves in a great position right off the start but lost boats when making quick decisions through the beats. One of the main focuses after Sailing World Cup Miami was the start; we were extremely happy to see that there was a huge improvement from the past events. The starts combined with commitment to a solid game plan throughout the races moved us up from 18th on the first day to 12th. Consistency on the last two days allowed us to finish 12th overall in a 25 boat fleet. When we set our minds to really focus on making the right tactical calls, it showed and we consistently arrived to the weather mark with the top pack. Overall, we were top USA team again but missed top North American finish by one point behind a Canadian team. The North American Championships felt very encouraging after the previous event where we know we can move on from poor decisions and slow accelerations. Clearwater will host the 2016 World Championships next February. This event will be the second event of the two-part Olympic qualifiers. Clearwater Community Sailing Center was a superb host and it was very clear that they were doing everything possible to accommodate all of the world-class sailors. We look forward to training there for many weeks this fall and next winter! We just finished a five-day drive to California from Florida, with a US Sailing Team Sperry coachboat in tow. Thank you to the Payne family for hosting us while we regrouped before our drive! We like to think of it more as an adventure than a drive. Now we are looking forward to having some days at home where we continue to stay on our workout schedules, get some rest and plan out the rest of the upcoming summer in Europe! The next big chunk of time starts by flying to London on February 25th to then have a block of training and events in Europe for the next 2 months:
- Fly to London, collect our car, take a ferry to Spain, collect the coachboat, drive across Spain, collect our boat, and take the ferry to Mallorca (whew!)
- Training in Palma de Mallorca, Spain
- Racing Trofeo Princesa Sofia in Palma de Mallorca, Spain
- Training in Hyeres, France
- Racing Sailing World Cup Hyeres in Hyeres, France
The last month in Florida helped us figure out the areas of improvement and we are more than excited to continue to make strides in those areas. We are glad to be top USA team at all three events and to have received an invitation to Sailing World Cup Hyeres, but we are so far from satisfied and are hungry for more!
To our coaches Ramon, Luther, Leandro, and Charlie, thank you for pushing us. We couldn’t ask for a better team. Thank you to Oakcliff Sailing Center for our charter boat for the winter. It made our logistics so much easier! We cannot forget to thank the US Sailing Team Sperry staff for their never-ending efforts, both for the team and in hosting Sailing World Cup Miami. The Team is so fortunate to have them behind the scenes, making sure we are ready for our travels and competition around the world. The St. Francis Sailing Foundation has been a generous supporter of ours for over two years and we’d like to thank them for their continued support! Finally, we would like to thank the sponsors and supporters of the US Sailing Team Sperry, especially our title sponsor Sperry. We are excited that Groupe Beneteau and Sunbrella have joined the US Sailing Team Sperry. If you believe in our hard work, please consider making a donation to Henken/Scutt Sailing: https://henkenscuttsailing.com/donate/
We are so encouraged by the support of our friends and family. Thank you! If you have already donated, find your name here! https://henkenscuttsailing.com/donate/team-members/
Midwinters, hosted by Coconut Grove Sailing Club: http://www.regattanetwork.com/clubmgmt/applet_regatta_results.php?regatta_id=9359&show_country=1&show_hometown=1&show_crew=1&hide_yacht_club=1
Sailing World Cup Miami: http://origin.sailing.org/worldcup/regattas/miami_2015.php?view=regatta&includeref=regattaevents&view=fleetevent&rgtaid=18007®attaid=18007&evntid=34439&includeref=regattaevents#results__18007
North American Championships, hosted by Clearwater Community Sailing Center: http://www.regattanetwork.com/event/9385#_newsroom
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