Two of CSC’s up and coming Optimist sailors competed this past weekend in what can only be described as wet, blustery south Florida. Held at the US Sailing Center in Martin County (Jensen Beach, FL) over 260 juniors were pulled together by sport, in the Optimist, Laser, c420 and Open Bic classes for two days of racing on the Indian River.
Willis and Rocket (aka: Will and Johnny) both ten year olds from the Cherry Creek Race Team arrived in Florida last week and put two practice days on the water in preparation for the event. The weather gods put the boy’s skills to the test and their efforts were nothing short of Herculean. As the dark clouds from an incoming low pressure system rolled in like droves of cattle, bringing a stampede of foul weather, sharp spitting rain was thrown about by wind gusts upwards of 25 to 30 mph. The conditions had these soggy tweeners hiking their legs off.
The consistent breeze churned steep chop that sloshed over the bows of their boats, capsizing the boys into a cool 80 degree water temp.
In preparation for the event we focused, firsthand, on finding comfort in this new arena. Ample time was spent checking and re-tying sail ties to bring the sail’s luff, tack and head taught against the spars. Masts were raked back and out haul, sprit and vang tension was cranked to flatten the deep draft of the boy’s Opti sails.
On the water, team Colorado learned valuable lessons in weight distribution, especially when it came to driving their boats down the face of each wave to surf. “Sail&Bail” became a chorus as they struggled to maintain stability with so much flying water.
Long windward beats during practice got the biceps burning as the boys worked their boats through the chop. After two tough practice days and having been tested to a full course of emotion everywhere from fear and rage to confidence and thrill, these young athletes felt ready to compete.
Saturday’s forecast was ominous as each squall line moved in over the sailing center. The Opti Green fleet was held on shore from racing before the PRO called off racing at 1pm. A day off the water was not an option for our team who crossed half the country to race, so they joined forces with a few star sailors from local Key Biscayne YC and sailed a practice in a steady, rainy 16mph winds.
Sunday broke with clear skies and a consistent 14mph breeze from the east. 7 races in total were run for the Optis. Steady breeze and back to back races were run in quick succession, as the sailors finished their trapezoid course they shuffled back into the starting area for the next race.
An amazing weekend and regatta overall, with lots of lessons learned and new friends made. Thanks to the support of parents, CSC, and all the fans at home Willis and Rocket completed their first big sailing regatta, a weekend they’ll never forget.