Aston Smith @ 2018 Orange Bowl Regatta

Over Christmas, I got to go to the Orange Bowl regatta in Miami. I had heaps of fun there catching up with old friends and learning a ton. I did a clinic before hand over at Key Biscayne yacht club and I learned about how to read the wind based on what clouds are doing from Mauricio and more about sail tuning and rigging from Juan Carlos. I also got to speed test against my friend Rocco Wright who finished first at British Nationals in junior fleet and Pearse Dowd who finished 6th at British Nationals in junior fleet.

When the regatta started we had one practice day and it was breeze on. We did upwind grind and then did a whole bunch of races. The wind carried through to the next day and got a little windier which made the first day of racing really hard for me. Unlike California, in Miami it was consistent wind at a strength of 18-22 kts and there were hardly any lulls. I learned the hard way that you always check your hiking strap before going out and right after I had a fairly good start in the last race, tacked out and got clear air my hiking strap broke! I also realized I have to practice a lot more bailing and sailing. That day did not go so well for me but the next day I managed to come back. The wind was quite a bit lighter starting at 10-14 kts and dropping through the day to 8. I was super happy to come back with a 5-8-8 and that boosted me from 107th to 64th and I could make gold fleet! I found it super cool that I was up there with top kids from Sweden, Mexico, Greece, Puerto Rico, Japan, ISV, and more. I think there were more countries than there were at British Nationals.

The first day of gold fleet was hard.The first race, I was in the middle-right and the wind went super hard left and the next few races it went hard right when I was on the left! I found it super tricky to get in phase and I did not have a very good first day of gold fleet. The second and final day of gold fleet and the regatta was great. The wind was 8-12 kts so right up my alley for wind. The first race I was right up in the leading triangle after a good start and I ended up getting 7th. The second race I was over on the left side tacking on shifts and when a big lefty came through I was winning the race for a bit, but unfortunately at the top mark a little righty came in and I rounded in 15th and ended coming 11th for the last race of the regatta. I was super stoked to come 33rd overall.

Overall, the regatta was great and I am glad I went. I learned a lot and I am ready for a big year of sailing. Thank you so much for the grant. Going to big events like this helps make me a better sailor.

Aston Smith