Sunday, March 25, 2012

Big Day on the Road to the Olympics

"Fire Hose Sailing"
photo by Dale Thompson

The last day of the qualifying series at the RS:X Worlds here in Cadiz was a big day for me on every level. I had a shaky start to my series, and I found myself right in the middle of the fight for the seven open spots to qualify for a place in the Olympics. After a day off due to 40-knot "Levante" wind, yesterday, our scheduled lay day, ended up being a one-race day that would determine the Gold and Silver fleets for the rest of the World Championships. If I could get in the Gold fleet then I would be virtual Olympic place holder. I needed a flawless performance to guarantee my spot in the Gold fleet.

Getting ready to launch at the start
photo by Dale Thompson

I have been working really hard since November to lift all areas of my game, and strong wind was a high priority. Unbelievably, over the past five months, and specifically here in Cadiz, I've only had a handful of heavy air training days. With everything on the line, I went for it at the start and started clear of the field at full speed. I had a clear lane to the favored left side. I sailed the best I ever have in those strong winds and maintained good speed and pointing. At the top mark I was with the lead group rounding fifth. For the rest of the race it was back and forth with Vicki Chan from Hong Kong and Charline Picon from France. In the final slalom, I was trailing HKG, and missed a jibe. Bryony Shaw from GBR and Charline snuck past me one jibe away from the finish, leaving me in 7th place.

Perfectly timed start at the favored leeward end
photo by Dale Thompson

I did it! I ended up having one of the best races of my life at a Worlds, and finished 7th. Everything just came together perfectly. I'm now positioned in the front half of the fleet out of our qualifying round, which means I'm racing in the Gold fleet for the rest of the event and also means I qualified for a spot at the Olympics! I am relieved to have accomplished this with a breakout performance and I'm inspired to see how far I can go in the Gold fleet.

I want to thank my sponsors Compass Marketing, St. Francis Yacht Club, Annapolis Yacht Club, the Olympic Sailing Association at New Orleans, and the Southport Sailing Foundation for making my preparation for this event as good as it gets. I'm looking forward to representing you at the Olympic Games.