Sailing World Cup Miami Day One
Today was the first day of the 2013 Sailing World Cup Miami regatta, and we had great weather: 10-14 knots of breeze, plenty of sun, warm temperatures, and some nice chop. The 73 boat Laser fleet was divided into two fleets for qualifying, and I was in the 2nd group today racing the inner trapezoid.
In the first race, I executed my starting plan pretty well, starting to windward of the group, but right after the start there was a big header and most of the fleet started to tack. I tacked towards the right and played the middle right for the beat, taking everything I could back towards the group. At times, I looked like I was in the top 10 while at other times I could have been in 20th. It was very shifty. At the top, I played a couple shifts well to consolidate in about 12th place. The top few boats were pretty punched, and I duked it out with some guys between 5th and 14th for the rest of the race. I made a couple gains on each of the remaining legs, and I finished in 9th place.
In the second race, I had another start to windward of the group, but this time I was able to sail off the line on starboard for a few minutes. Again, it was very shifty, and I found myself in traffic in about 10th place half way up. I made a good decision to tack out early and lead the group back from the left to the top. It worked well, and as we got headed coming into the first mark, I was able to tack back in front of the pack and round in 4th. I had a very good downwind to catch up to 2nd place at the bottom, and fellow American, Charlie Buckingham, and I were going at it on the second beat. At the top, the sides came in hard and some people that we were far ahead of caught up at the mark. Charlie still rounded in 1st, Jean Baptiste (FRA) was in second, and I was in third, just ahead of five very fast boats. I was a little bummed that a secure lead evaporated, and I would have to play defense on some speedy sailors for the two final reaches and downwind, but I was able to hold them off to finish with a 3rd in the second race.
Overall, I had a 9-3 on the day, which is a good start to the regatta. We had great conditions, and it was a lot of fun to race again, albeit I was a bit rusty at times!
The interesting thing about this regatta is the format. Because this event is so early in the quad, the regatta organizers are trying out a new format. To be honest, it seems a bit confusing and puts a huge premium on sailing well at the end of the event. We'll sail a three day, six race qualifying series, where the top half will move into gold fleet, but the scores will essentially reset with each sailor carrying his finishing place from the qualifying series into Gold fleet as a starting point. Then after five Gold fleet races, the top ten will sail THREE, double-point medal races on Saturday.
It should keep things interesting! Results from today can be found here.