Long Beach North American Champs
I have just gotten home from the 2018 Laser North American champs in Long Beach, California, and they were a blast! It was also the country qualifier for next year’s Pan American Games, with 7 spots available for the standard and radial. It was especially well attended, with a total of 26 countries across 3 classes.
Long Beach is one of my all time favourite venues, and I really recommend trying to go to a regatta there if you ever get a chance. The yacht club, Alamitos Bay, is probably the most welcoming and hard working venue ever. They provide free breakfast every morning, two dinners for a four day regatta, snacks on the non-dinner days, and have an army of volunteers on land to help the sailors. On the water they consistently run great races, with quick course changes and good start management. (I know this sounds like ABYC paid me to say this, but I actually just love them!)
We had a really interesting week there, because the conditions during our training were totally different from those during races. We arrived early enough for three days of training and one day off before racing started, and for all of the training days we had really light on-shore winds and big, slow incoming swell. I found a really fast upwind mode, steering very high going up the swell, which allowed me to point super high and maintain speed, but it turned out to be totally useless for the race days! I think it will be a good trick for the future though.
The four race days were all windier than our training, with lots of waves and chop on top of the underlying swell. The wind there is a pretty classic sea breeze, so the strategy is generally the same and straight forward, meaning starts and speed are the really key elements of the racing. In general my starts were good, and I didn’t get any letter scores (unlike my last big event, the European champs, were I got 3 BFDs!). The first and last day were relatively light, maybe 8-10 knots, and the middle two days were windy, 16-18 knots. I was in general fast in the lighter winds, usually finishing top 5. On the windier days I was usually finishing top 12, and while my speed wasn’t quite were I want it to be, I am definitely sailing a lot faster and stronger than in the past. I finished the regatta in 5th, after going into the last day in 12th and having a consistently good last day while other competitors struggled. Canada finished 1,2,5 in the radial fleet, easily earning our Pan Am spot. The athlete will be selected next year at the Lauderdale OCR regatta, so expect some fierce competition between us Canadian girls there! Overall I am happy with how the regatta went and I think it was a really good warm up for Worlds in Denmark, which starts in 2 weeks! Now I am home for a week, to rest, catch up on work, and get prepared for Aarhus!
*photo from Tom Walker Photography.