Podium Finish!

Nacra17 Nationals
This past week, Team Rhode Island ventured south to Oyster Bay for the Nacra 17, 49er, and 49er FX Nationals at Oakcliff Sailing Center. This was our first regatta after months of training in Newport, a chance for us to get some race experience before Worlds and to see how we stacked up against the competition. We felt confident that we’d be in contention for first place, even though we haven’t sailed against any Nacra’s since March, based on the highly regimented practice schedule we’d been adhering to all summer.

We arrived at Oakcliff on Tuesday afternoon, August 19, and immediately set to work getting our charter boat ready for racing. We are very particular about our boat set-up, so it took almost a full day to get the boat close to our standards. Eventually we were ready to go for a sail! We lined up against a few other US Nacra’s in a practice session, struggling a little at first to get used to having other boats nearby. Whenever we practiced alone, we tried to act like there were other boats around, but it’s a different story when they’re actually there. Once the initial hesitations wore off, we were cruising! During the practice races the next day, we won almost every race. This only served to fuel our motivation and confidence to go out and win a National Championship!

Unfortunately, we suffered a slow start to the regatta. We couldn’t seem to go in the right direction and fast at the same time (it was either one or the other). On the first day the Race Committee had us sail 6 races, when the average is about 3 or 4 per day. The breeze steadily picked up throughout the day, starting off light but gusty, and ending with us able to double trap. Oyster Bay is notorious for light breeze, so the Race Committee wanted to get as many races in as possible, in case we couldn’t sail on Saturday or Sunday. Although it left us exhausted, we were thankful for the extra races because it gave us more practice time, and we were able to string a few good races together in the bigger breeze. At the end of the day, we were sitting in 5th place, feeling a little disheartened by our results. We vowed to relax more the next day and have fun, with the knowledge that the results would follow.

Day 2 dawned a little chillier, with an earlier start time and decent breeze once more. We started out strong with a second place finish, mere feet behind the first place boat, which ended up being our best result of the day. We’d gotten better at going in the right direction, but still struggled with speed. It was frustrating and confusing to not have the speed we’d had during the practice races. As far as we were aware, we hadn’t changed our technique in any drastic way. We mulled the problem over throughout the day, and kept doing our best to find that speed we needed to move up in the ranks. Unfortunately, after 4 races that day, we were still sitting in 5th place. 

On Sunday, the last day of the regatta, we decided to make a radical change. We switched out Oakcliff’s race main, which we had used for the previous two days, for our old, ratty main we’d been using since the Miami World Cup. Our thought process was that we’d used our old main during the practice races and felt fast, so might as well give it a shot. 

Our gamble paid off: there were only 2 races sailed that day, a Championship race and the Medal Race, and we won both of them!! Finally, we were sailing at the level we’d been practicing at all summer, and were seeing the results that proved we are indeed a force to be reckoned with on the race course. The Medal Race was particularly satisfying to win, and our success that day allowed us to jump from 5th to 2nd overall!

After sailing catamaran’s for only 9 months, we had a podium finish at the Nacra 17 Nationals!!

medal race win

Crossing the finish line of the Medal Race in First

New Boat & Santander, Spain
Jeremy and I were home for about 36 hours before we hopped on a plane and flew across the ocean to Santander, Spain for the ISAF World Championship. The regatta we’ve been preparing for all year. We arrived in this beautiful city and immediately went to the boat park to greet our new boat! Originally, we had not intended to buy another boat until next year, but the opportunity was too good to pass up. Our options were to scramble to find a charter (after our charter fell through), spend an exorbitant amount of money to send Weetamoe to Spain and back, or buy this boat from an Australian Sailing Team member. We decided to buy the boat.

We lugged our giant sailing bags and sail box through the boat park, excited to meet our new Nacra. We had to put the hulls together, add the tramp, and put up the rig, but it was our boat, so despite the jetlag and exhaustion from the overnight flight, we set to work. We spent all day in the boat park, but thankfully the sun was out and there were a few other teams milling about. The regatta doesn’t start until mid-September, but we arrived early to get our boat sorted out and check out the venue. We’ll be on the water sailing for the next couple of weeks, working on a few more techniques and making sure the boat is perfect before racing begins. 

Be sure to stay tuned as we get closer to the World Championship! There will be more pictures and blog posts to follow soon.

Thank you to Team One Newport, who made sure we look good for Worlds, and Sail Newport, our home training base.

Results for the Nacra17 Nationals can be found here: http://www.yachtscoring.com/event_results_cumulative.cfm?eID=1057

and TV coverage of Nationals can be found at : https://www.youtube.com/embed/hyQVK0uJOiQ
(although they mispronounce Chafee)