After months of hard work on the water and in the gym, it was time to put it all to the test against the world’s best.
I arrived to Split, Croatia on September 4th with coach Chris Dold arriving a few days later. We had put so much work into the prior months, we knew the lead up was all about peaking the mind and body for the championship. Therefore, we kept the sessions on the water very short and efficient, mostly focused on racing, for no longer than 2 hours. This left time in the evening to recover and go to the gym to emphasize strength work to keep the fast twitch muscles sharp. We had the normal variety of conditions over the 6 days of training including 2 rest days, providing a good taste for what the championship would provide. We finished up registration and measurement, then it was onto racing starting September 14th against the top 147 boats in the world.
The schedule was for 12 races over 6 days, the first three days was the qualifying stage followed by finals.
Day one provided a light easterly gradient that started in 5 knots and built to 14 knots, becoming more unstable, shiftier as the day developed. A good start and a poor start in the opening races led to an up and down day, scoring a 4-26. A mediocre start to the series, but confident I would be able to make the proper adjustments going forward.
Day two we were postponed on shore all morning as the easterly gradient and the heating of the day fought each other. Finally in the later afternoon as the day cooled and gradient strengthened we rushed out for one race in 12-14 knots. A good, clean start midline followed by strong speed around the course got me to the front of the fleet to finish 2nd.
Day three was a day that “separates the men from the boys” with three, physical races in winds up to 20-25 knots and large waves from the East. Unfortunately, I did not do myself any favors this day with poor starts. I played comeback king all day, scoring a 12-11-11, passing boats on every leg. Overall, I was happy with the day as my speed and fitness brought me back into the races in the strong conditions. It showed me that all our offseason work really paid off. With good starts I could have been battling in the top 5.
Day four, the first day of finals started with morning postponement under thunderstorms and golf ball sized hail raining down on us, crazy stuff! After the storm cleared, we headed out in a extremely shifty offshore wind from the Northwest as it came up and over the mountains. We arrived to the race course in 15 knots. As the start sequence counted down and the race wore on, the breeze dropped and became more and more unstable. I had a good start at the pin end, rounded the top mark just inside the top 10. The downwind became unpredictable as the breeze dropped, the fleet compressed, and suddenly I was back in 30s. I scrambled the remainder of the race to finish 25th. Disappointing after a strong start, but content knowing races like that could go way worse. The breeze fizzled out and we were sent in for the day.
Day five demanded patience again as we waited onshore for the sea breeze to fill in. Finally around 2 pm the breeze came in from the southwest at a solid 12-15 knots in picturesque conditions. We had three gold fleet races, all extremely tight, battle of inches type races all around the course. I executed the big keys to the day we set forth, clean starts and blazing speed. I scored a 3-14-16, a top tier scoreline of the day to continue my rise of the rankings into 13th overall. We sailed in under a beautiful sunset, always enjoyable.
Final day of racing was another waiting game as thunderstorms rolled through the race course. Unfortunately racing was cancelled as the storms continued to linger as well as killing all the wind.
In the end, I was pleased with the result. It matched my career best result at the World Championships finishing 13th. I not only finished as the top boat from the United States, but also from North, Central, and South America, an accomplishment I am proud of. I know there were some points left out on the racecourse, which could have vaulted me into the top 10 and even higher, but that is sailboat racing.
This result also officially qualified me for the US Sailing Team for 2017 and through 2018. Always an honor to be named to the national team.
Results of Gold Fleet (top 49 of 147 boats) are in the link below as well as attached.
Satisfying to know that the program is on the right track, as well as know that there is a lot of potential to be had going forward. The strong wind speed and fitness in greatly improving, with more to be had. My smarts managing the fleet tactically around the racecourse is becoming more routine, very confident in my playbook I follow. Finally, I am feeling a “belonging” to the front of the fleet, I expect to be battling with the best, and my competitors are beginning to show me that respect.
Up next is some recovery at home, a couple weeks of gym before leaving October 10th for Japan. There I will be racing in the Gamagori Sailing World Cup, a world-class level event. The following week I will race in the Enoshima Olympic Week taking place at the host venue of the 2020 Olympics.
Thank you all for your continued support of my Olympic campaign. These are exciting times as we march forward.
Enjoy the pictures attached.
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