Wednesday, October 7, 2009

October 7, 2009 By Austin Sperry

Over the past weekend I competed in the Finn National Championships. We had about 35 boats attending this event, including a few sailors from Europe and Zach Railey (my 2008 Olympic teammate who brought home a Silver medal from Beijing). My Father in law John Dane purchased three new Finns (one for me, one for him and one for his son John F) so we have a fully sorted program, really nice boats.

I rolled up to the Southern Yacht Club (New Orleans) on Thursday evening and shoved off around 1730 for a quick sunset session. I was the only one out on the water but the good news was I was the fastest boat that evening! I started getting a really bad sore throat and decided I had better head to the barn and rest up as we had 8 races scheduled over the next 3 days.

The next morning brought about 2 knots of wind and 3 races. If I have a weakness as a skipper, it’s the light light air aspect of sailing. Needless to say I struggled in 2 out of the 3 races but I did manage to place 6th in the second race, I attribute this to the breeze reaching about 5-6kts for about 35 minutes. Then it went very light, so I was hiking to leeward in a Finn (just heinous). I had another shocker in the 3rd race of the day.

That evening aboard Showdown I started to feel even worse than I did during the day, I took more medication than I should of, but managed to feel somewhat better in the morning and sailed in 3 more races on Saturday. I had 3 avg finishes. I learned a great deal about the boat and the correct way to sail it. I seemed to be doing much better downwind than I was going uphill. It was very impressive to watch Zach Railey and Bryan Boyd sail these boats. These guys are on another level. Zach is a great guy, you will see him around for a long time!

After the second day of racing I felt so bad I decided to see a doctor with all this chatter of H1N1 etc. Well I was told to rest, no more sailing for a few days and he gave me a shot and I was put on a serious antibiotic and then the doctor sent me to the Urgi care emergency room to get tested to make sure I didn’t have the swine flu. Test turned out negative, no flu but still feeling like garbage. Needless to say I missed the last day of the Finn NA’s.

My main goal coming into this event was finish in the top half of the fleet. I sail the Finn in order to become a better crew on the Star boat and get in better sailing shape. Results aside, I learned a ton about the boat sailing against some of the best Finn sailors in the World. I am looking forward to working on my weaknesses and seeing how I go next time.

Next up - Champion of Champions regatta crewing for my buddy Paul Cayard.

Austin -