Midwinters East Champ!
Today was the fourth and final day of the Laser Midwinters East in Clearwater, FL. We sailed our final two races in about 5-6 knots dying almost down to nothing by the very end. The Lasers were up first and sailed two outer trapezoid courses today.
In the first race, I won the pin end of the line and shortly after the start, I tacked over onto port and crossed most of the fleet. It was pretty shifty, and the fleet was very close as we made our way to the first mark. I ended up rounding the mark in 3rd place with Dave Wright and Juan Maegli, my two nearest competitors, just behind me. On the first reach, it was so close that no one could really break away, and after sailing high to protect, the fleet kind of reset at the gybe mark. I had a good first run to round in the top group at the bottom, but Juan and Dave both had good runs too. On the next beat, the three of us (and Matt Ryder, another Candian) duked it out in the top four. We all rounded close to each other and tried to pass each other on the run. At the bottom, I was looking to be around 3rd or 4th when I unfortunately got yellow flagged for rocking. I was pushing it hard (well, we all were), but that was tough. I did a quick 720 but found myself in 6th after that and finished in that spot.
So heading into the last race, Dave had 16 points, I had 18 points, and Juan had 22 points. No one else was in the mix, so the three of us were going to have a good last race to sort out the podium.
I had another really good start at the pin and pinched off Juan in the process. Dave had a good start near the middle-pin. Again, I sailed out on starboard for a while and tacked and crossed the fleet. And again, there was scattered pressure all over the course to make things pretty even at the top mark. At the first mark, I rounded in 3rd with Juan in about 5th and Dave just behind him. I was able to get over the guy in 2nd on the reach while Juan and Dave had to deal with some traffic from other boats. I had a good run to extend a little, and rounded the bottom mark in 2nd. I hung on to 2nd for the rest of the race while Juan took 5th and Dave could only get back to 7th.
With those scores, I was able to win the event! Overall I was pretty pleased with my sailing. The first two days went very well, and my speed was improved from the Sailing World Cup in Miami the month before. Bad starts plagued the third day for me, and despite making it pretty exciting and almost blowing a big league, I was able to hang on at the end to win. This is my first time winning the Midwinters East, so I'm happy with the result.
The play now is to drive back to NJ and get back to work at Colie Sails! I'm going to do some Opti coaching in the next few months and then hopefully jump back in my Laser as summer approaches.