In November, we sent Lucy and Julius to the two-day, Great Oaks Invitationals at the Southern Yacht Club, in New Orleans. The regatta would host 31 boats, representing 31 different high schools from over 17 states around the country. These boats were split up randomly into two flights. At the end of the first day of racing, all boats finishing in the top half would qualify for gold fleet, and the rest, silver fleet.
An Action Filled Morning
On the morning of the races, we woke up at 6 am sharp and went straight to the yacht club. The wind was already blowing strong, and we rigged quickly and then headed inside to wait for the skippers meeting to start. The main building of SYC had huge glass windows, so we could watch the wind as it steadily built and built throughout the morning. The race committee postponed racing for a few hours because of these crazy winds, but finally, we got out on the water.
Taking Down the Competition
Out fleet started first, so when we got out to the course, we immediately went into warmup maneuvers, sailing upwind and downwind a bit, doing a few practice tacks, and checking the starting line. At exactly 10 am, the first starting single went off. We had decided to start near the boat end of the line, and as the horn blasted the 3-2-1 we heeled our boat and accelerated to pop out! The course was very short, so all the boats were extremely close as we approached the windward mark. We rounded in second, close behind the team of two girls in first. The downwind leg was as close and compacted as the upwind. Only this time, we didn’t just have our own fleet to worry about! As our fleet was zipping down the course towards the leeward mark, the second fleet was just starting their race! We managed to avoid the second-fleet boats, while still keeping in front of our own fleet. As we came up to the downwind mark, we had gained on the girls in first, but not by enough. If we wanted to catch them, we would have to do it on the final upwind leg. We rounded, less than a boat length behind! The wind had been filling in from the right all morning, so we headed to the starboard lay-line. The girls were above us, but our boat-speed was slightly better, and we managed to work up in front of them. By the time we got to the lay-line of the finish, we were a half-boat length in front. We crossed the line, and the gun went off! Success!
The Final Push
At the end of the day, we had consistently placed top 5 every race and were solidly in 2nd. We had made gold fleet and were ready to fight it out for first place the next day. However, the wind did not seem to want to help us out! We thought the first day was windy, but that was nothing compared to this! The second day of the regatta was honking, with gusts up to 30 knots. This, was not exactly ideal for us, as we were one of the lightest teams attending. We fought it out the whole day, but fatigue won out in the end. At the end of the regatta we had placed 4th out of the 31 teams, along with winning the Outstanding New Team award for being the highest placing, (and youngest), new team. Not bad for a weekends work!