Friday, January 28, 2011

A hard-earned result for the Miami OCR

The Miami Olympic Classes Regatta is the most important regatta annually for American Olympic aspirants. It is one of the first World Cup ranking regattas on the circuit, and it is also a chance for teams and individual sailors to get a spot on the US Sailing Team. Not only did I again earn my #1 spot on the team, but I also had the best regatta of my life.

Pre-race: chilly weather calls for layers of clothing (Event photo)

Miami is never a predictable place for racing. For the past two years, it has been a light-wind venue, but this year we had more wind than normal and even one day of planing races. The week saw a full, fairly classic frontal rotation of the wind from east to northwest, with a different direction every day. The one constant of Miami racing is that the wind will always be shifty and puffy, and there will always be weeds (shedding Florida seagrass and algae) to drag around the course on your fin.

The first few days of racing passed easily, as the wind direction was easterly, giving us cleaner and stronger wind. The second day of racing saw planing conditions in a southeast 15 knot breeze. We easily managed two races in warm, cloudy, fast conditions. I had good starts and since my pointing is a lot better, I had some good finishes. However, the third day proved to be the toughest of the regatta. Any easterly direction pushes a lot of weeds onto the course, so that by the third day, the weeds were floating around in huge lines, ready to trap sailors. The wind was a shifty, very gusty southwest as cloud lines marking the beginning of a front rolled through. These conditions are very difficult because sailors must be very good at transitions, tactics, and making minute adjustments to technique in every gust or lull. My first race was the best of the series, but my second race was the worst. As the breeze died, the weeds and general Miami debris became more and more of a menace to being able to plane. Every sailor had to clear weeds several times during the racing. My Canadian friend, Dominique Vallee, had a piece of cardboard get stuck in her daggerboard well; she had to stop to physically jump in and pull it out so she could put the board up. I tacked going downwind rather than jibing - it was still faster than dragging weeds! I've never sailed anywhere else in the world that has as many obstacles in the water.

Racing in marginal conditions (Event photo)

The wind failed to materialize on the fourth day, and after a long wait on the water, we went in without racing. The front finally filled in for the fifth and last day of racing. We again had two races in puffy, dying northwest frontal breeze coming down from the cityfront. Racing was a little tougher for me today as I was nervous going into the first start, fouled someone, and fell trying to do my penalty turn. I played catch-up for the rest of the race, and was actually pleased with the finish. The long courses and dying breeze of the regatta's final days made for some really long and difficult racing.

I'm really excited about what a 12th place finish in a fairly competitive fleet means. I know the results have come from finally developing the techniques that have frustrated me for years, with the help of consistent coaching from Britt Viehman for the past month. I have been really aggressive about learning skills step by step, and creating lists of short goals. I now have a new list of skills to develop, and am looking forward to February's plan, and March's training and racing in Europe. It will once again be a tough fight to get the resources together to make a comprehensive plan. However, I've already proven that I have unlimited quantities of willpower and fight for the final push to the Olympic qualifier regattas, and much more.

I want to thank my sponsor, Compass Marketing, for making this effort achievable. Compass has shown unwavering support of my Olympic campaign since 2008.


  1. Nice Job Farah. Best performance by an American in any major International RSX event in a long time. Keep pushing.

  2. Great to see you back in action...or maybe I haven´t followed your blog for a decade...
    Smooth Sailing!

  3. Congratulations Farrah!! It is so wonderful to step forward technically in your skills. Keep up the great and fantastic work! Love, MOM