Monday, February 8, 2010

2010 Radial Women's North American Championships

Despite The Waves, There Was Some Close Racing
Photo: (c) John Payne, February 2010

Ft. Lauderdale, FL By Anna Tunnicliffe -

This past weekend was the 2010 Radial Women's North American Championships in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. I competed in the event in the hopes of qualifying for a spot at the 2010 Radial World Championships, and of defending my title from 2009. I sailed a great regatta, coming out on top, successfully securing my spot at the Worlds and defending my title as the North American Women's Laser Radial Champion.

It was a close regatta that came down to the last race between Marit Bouwmeester, from the Netherlands, and me, as to who would claim the title.

The regatta started on Friday with big wind and very big waves. The wind was in the high teens with gusts occasionally in the low twenties, but it was the 5-7 foot seas that made the sailing a lot of hard work. In the first three races, Marit came away with three wins and I had three seconds. It was one of the most fun days I have had in a Radial in a long time. I was a bit worried to begin with, about how I would manage physically, but my gym work paid off, and I felt as though I could hike all day, which got me super excited too.

The next day, Saturday, the wind was almost 180 degrees different in direction, but still very strong. The wind was blowing off the beach, so the waves were all gone, and we were left with very puffy, shifty winds that were stronger than the first day.

In the first race of the day, Marit sailed a strong race and won, with me again in second. In the second race of the day, Marit again took the lead early and I rounded the top mark in about 9th. Downwind, I connected some puffs and rounded the leeward mark in 4th. I recognized that the wind had shifted as we rounded the bottom mark and tacked away to sail on the favoured tack. I led the leaders to the next wind shift and ended up passing the three boats in front of me to round the top mark in first with Marit only boat lengths behind me.
I held her off on the downwind leg to take the race, with Marit taking second. The last race of the day proved quite difficult tactically. All day long, the wind had been shifting back and forth, and the race started in a left shift. We all started down at the pin end of the line, tacked over and were waiting for the right hand shift to come in, but it didn't. I was the third boat to the left so benefited from the fact that the shift didn't come. I rounded the top mark in second and passed into first downwind, and held on for the rest of the race. Marit didn't come out quite as well and had a hard time coming back through the race; she finished 12th.

Sunday, the last day of racing, was again quite tricky tactically. I didn't have a great first race and finished with a 6th to Marit's first. And so it came down to the last race. In the pre-start, we both fouled another boat in our maneuvers, but had a good close race around the course, both of us learning a lot tactically and about our own abilities from the experience. However, because we both fouled another boat at the start, we decided it would be most sportmanlike and appropriate to withdraw from the race.

It was immense fun to sail the Radial again, but I am taking a break for a while from the boat. My next sailing is match race training in Miami towards the end of the month.

I would like to thank our sponsors Carmeuse for their continued support of our campaign for the 2012 Olympics in London, England. I would also like to thank USSTAG.

Sail Hard,

Team Tunnicliffe