2018 Optimist Team Trials
The 2018 Optimist Team Trials was held in Key Biscayne, Florida (April 26-29). The best sailors in the nation came, after first qualifying, for a chance to represent the United States in various international regattas making this the most difficult optimist event of the year.
The first day of the event brought a northern wind direction in the morning; the race committee anticipated a 180 degree wind shift to a southern wind direction so we were postponed on land for three hours. When the wind finally did shift, the race committee did not hesitate to send us out on the water because we were already three hours behind schedule and were still trying to get the goal of three races per day. The first race was sailed in unstable conditions due to the recent huge wind shift. Unfortunately, I rounded the top mark in twenty fifth. Fighting my way back to the front and being on the correct side of yet another wind shift on the last beat, I made my way back to fourth. I sailed the next two races races aggressively and fortunately made the right decisions on course and got two top two’s.
The second day was deemed un-sailable. There was a severe low pressure system engulfing the race course making it hazardous to sail- It was so extreme that there was a potential tornado warning issued.
The third and final day of the qualifying series brought strong wind from the north, north-west direction. I prevailed in the stronger wind and secured all top three finishes, maintaining my position in second place overall. Going into Gold fleet, five Santa Barbara sailors were in qualifying positions for The U.S. National Team.
The final day of the regatta was the most challenging as Gold Fleet positions had now been assigned to the top 74. The West Coast brought their best sailors to the competition and eight had made their way into Gold Fleet representing a solid showing in unfamiliar waters. Light and unstable winds coming from the south made on course decision making crucial, it was going to be a difficult day on the water for the sailors. The races ranged from 45 minutes to well over an hour in shifty difficult air. I sailed the last races very conservatively taking only small calculated risks. By the end of race four, I had received confirmation that I had qualified for the IODA World Championships in Cyprus having finished second overall. I was tremendously excited and proud to be thrown off the dock into the water by some of my competitors- as is the tradition. Soggy, tired and elated this had been my very best regatta and one I had worked hard to achieve over the past six years.