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US 2011 29er Youth Champs

Paris Henken and Connor Kelter win US 2011 29er Youth Champs!

Many thanks to Newport Harbor Sailing Foundation for supporting me and making our trip possible.Without the financial support from NHSF many of these opportunities would not be possible. Much appreciation for all you do to make our sailing pursuits possible.

We competed at this years 2011 United States Youth Champs at Newport, Rhode Island. Right from the get-go the competition was tight and continued throughout the rest of the regatta. Day one began with two scheduled practices starts in moderate to light conditions which continued to build along with the rain and current for the opening three races. With the fleet only being ten boats deep, the top five positions were always a few points apart after every days racing. Having never sailed in Rhode Island before, we did not know what to expect, but after the first couple races we began to figure it out. After the first day of racing, and getting a 5, 1, 4, we were positioned in 2nd place overall and two points behind first, but only two points in front of third. Our high expectations for wind diminished when day two began with only about 2-5 knots in the morning and still more current, but fortunately no rain. We got the first race off with about 5 knots but in a difficult situation because as the racing progressed on, the wind got lighter. Rounding the leeward mark, we were in 5th but still had time to try and pick up a few boats. In a Hail Mary decision, we decide to bang the right side of the course and let the rest of the fleet go left. The wind shut all the way off and we experienced a huge wind shift, making us go from 5th to 10th. Fortunately for us, the race committee decided to abandon the race because of the huge wind shift and the wind dropping below 1 knot. After some waiting around, the wind picked back up to 5-8 knots and we had a solid rest of day, still sitting in second place with only one point behind 1st. By the second to last day, it looked like it could be anyone?s win. With the wind coming in at 15-18 knots, we finally got what we wanted, a windy day. Using our superior speed in the breeze, we were able to sail into our best day, winning two, getting second in two races and a sixth, moving into first with about an 11 point lead.

Going into the last day, was really exciting. The conditions were light to moderate and flat water. Being a little nervous on the first race, we made some mistakes and ended up getting an eight. With the pressure on, we put our game faces on and put all of our focus into these last three races. We decide, for now on, to cover the second place boat. From the gun, we covered them left, while letting the rest of the fleet go off right, which at the time was the favored side. We rounded the windward mark in ninth and the second place boat rounded in last and our aim changed from covering to catching up and passing some boats. From that point on we sailed our own race and came back to finish third!

Out of all the races we have ever sailed together, that one race was specifically the best race we had ever sailed! Knowing that we could sail through the fleet and go from second to last to the top three was great. We ended the regatta by winning the last two races of the day and Connor celebrated by doing a victory back flip off the boat. This regatta was great for us as we learned more of the fundamentals of team work, and how by working together can really pay off in a positive way.

We would like to personally thank the awesome Newport Race Committee for getting all fifteen races off cleanly and Sail Newport for a really nice regatta. Putting together the college night at Salve Regina University and hosting a dinner at New York Yacht Club was a fantastic extra. We would also love to thank our host family, the Lanes, for letting us stay at their home and making us feel like family and cooking us wonderful meals. We couldn?t have won it without them.

- Paris Henken (Coronado Yacht Club) and Connor Kelter (Newport Harbor Yacht Club)