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Miami OCR

Hey all,

Below is a collection of my reports for the Miami OCR. Hope you enjoyed following me during this exciting event, was a great experience along with a successful result.

First Weekend of Practice

I left Georgetown for the weekend to get three days of practice in Miami to help prepare me as much as possible for the event. All three days saw great breeze of 8-12 knots that was relatively shifty coming off the land. I practiced with Rob Crane of the US, and several Canadiens. After sailing each day I went to the gym to get a good lift in as well as some cardio work. I had some excellent meals from Fresh Market as well. Apartment is a great location, just outside the Cocowalk. It's a perfect size and will make time off the water very relaxing.

Practice Days prior to Event

Not much on first practice day, planned on taking the day off. Spent the morning organizing around the apartment and did groceries, which was a haul. Then headed down the the boat park for some boat work here and there (tell tales, change hiking strap, deck cleat screw, traveler line, etc). Went to gym in afternoon to spin the legs a bit and get some blood flowing. Had a nice dinner from some food I picked up from fresh market.

Day 2, unfortunately there wasn't nearly as much breeze as forecasted. Had a great breakfast at apartment then headed down to boat park expecting wind. Unfortunately it was pretty dead all afternoon. Instead I did some boat cleaning and such until breeze slightly filled in at late afternoon, still pretty light at 4-6 knots. Still good guys out, Goodison, Juan Maegli, some canadiens, Italians, GG from switzerland, and some others. We just did start, short beat and finish at leeward mark. Was real fast, finishing with two bullets and a 2nd. Real confident in that stuff, know I can do well in that stuff. Afterwards went to gym to do a small lift and some biking before dinner with girls, Alana O'Reilly (former Gtown Coach) and Charlie Buckingham

Day 3 I went down early to finish up registration and some more boat work before lunch and hanging out in apartment to watch NFL championship weekend. Felt really fresh and prepared for a week of fast, competitive racing!

Racing

Day 1 - First start was at 1030 so I woke up at 7 to make breakfast and such. Breeze was pretty medium all day, ranging from 8-10 knots, puffs up to 12 from the east. The biggest challenge all day was constantly getting rid of weeds from the boards, often a few times per leg.

Race 1 had a good start in middle of line and worked the left side of the course. Rounded just outside the top 5, bounced around the 8, 9, 10, 11th place position most of the race before falling to back of the pack at the end of the 2nd beat. Held on for a 11th place finish, a solid finish to start the regatta off

Race 2 I started at the pin and didn't quite pull the trigger quick enough but found an exit out on port and up the course. Worked the left side of the course. Found a good lane below port lay line to pick off some boats and sneak into top 10. Bounced around top 10 most of race until final downwind leg. Was making some real gains on the downwind, being aggressive, but apparently to aggressive. Got flagged and lost the boats I had just passed, but fortunately caught two of them back to finish 10th, instead of a 7th.

Late start tomorrow since the 470s only got one race off in the dying breeze. They will go out early and do 3 races, then we will have a start at 2 to do our pair of races for the day. Forecast is similar for tomorrow

Day 2 -

Same direction today but much shiftier and patchier, slightly less breeze

Race 1 - good start on pin-middle location of line but 3rd most leeward boat. Was looking good, probably top 5 half way up the beat. The problem was that I didn't cross when I could as well as played the middle too much and didn't leverage out to a side and use more boat speed. Consequently, I rounded just inside the top 20 and was struggling to make gains. Fortunately I made a nice surge on the final downwind to finish 13th.

Race 2- I had a similar start and had really good boat speed. The main adjustment I made from the previous race was less tacks and looking out of the boat much more, planning out my tacks with reason. I really executed that on first beat, being patient and leveraging out to a shift that I could have rushed and tacked early. I dug in and tacked over to cross the fleet on port from the left side of the course to round the top mark in 1st. From their on I struggled to hang with the top guys, especially on the downwind and having a rhythm with the shifts upwind, everyone seemed to struggle. Weeds were also a constant problem. However, still a solid finish with a 7th

Forecast is for same direction and maybe a knot or two more. Want to keep improving scores and sail with confidence and expectations to do well. If and when I get in that top group, want to have that drive to pass people and not just "hang with them". Earlier start tomorrow at 10:30.

Day 3 -

Breeze was a little farther right and with a little big higher velocity at 10-12 knots, full power and on the verge of depower.

Both races followed the same story. I had great starts near the pin and was very fast. I was able to get into the top group and sailed with aggression and confidence. I was able to pass boats in the front pack. Finished the day with a 5, 3, putting me in 14th overall heading into the gold fleet.

Day 4, 5, & 6 -

I will combine my gold fleet racing all into one since most of the racing had basically the same story. Day 4 was 10-13 knots and day 5 started at 8 knots and built to 15-17 knots by the end of the day. Each race I had high moments and had strong places at points in the races but seemed to fall apart in the end.

Race 7 was probably my best, I started mid pin and raced hard towards the left and eventually flopped over just shy of lay line to cross most of the fleet and round 7th. From there it was a struggle to keep in front of the fleet as people kept passing in addition to mental mistakes on my part to finish 28th

Race 8 I did not have as great of a start but made good decisions with the shifts to round just inside the top 20. Again on the reach, downwind, and second beat, it was hard to pass boats and hold boats off finishing 25th

Day 5...

Race 9 I had a mediocre start, but was able to tack and duck through to a great lane out right and looking really good and flopped on starboard back up the course. At one point I thought I was for sure top 5 making our way up the funnel of the top mark. I decided to take my chance to exit to starboard lay line to secure my position only to see a lefty come in and lose a few boats and round about 12th. Again had trouble on the reach, downwind, and second beat (fouling a boat, port starboard) to have another disappointing finish of 25th

Race 10, breeze really up now and started below the boat pack, most pin boat, but middle of the line. I read the line sag well and punched out to leeward. I grinded out the left trying to gain separation from the fleet. However, about 4 or 5 times I would take grind on port, and not be able to cross just one boat or a pack of boats only by a few feet forcing me to tack back and go back left. This was costly since I could not cross the fleet and get right for the oscillation back right. The exhaustion from hiking so hard that first beat to try and get across, so many tacks and ducks and from the several days of racing finally caught up to me and showed in my finish

Conclusion....

I am obviously disappointed in the way I finished my event after finishing the qualifying round in 14th and ending the regatta in 22nd. I had several high moments in the gold round, but struggled to hold position or catch up. I am happy that I have the capability to sail fast in the breeze upwind and have the upwind tactics to compete. My biggest weaknesses are my cardio and just overall time in the boat. I think that mostly showed in the reaches and downwinds. In hindsight, I am very pleased with my finish of 22nd, a great finish despite very limited practice compared to others (the majority of gold fleet just coming back from Perth, which obviously included several months of training). Additionally this qualifies me for the US Sailing Development team, which will give me access to coaching, more training opportunities, etc. I am extremely confident that once I fully commit to the laser, continue to raise my level of fitness (especially in terms of cardio since I am at my ideal weight), I can get on the podium. I watched Char Buck win the medal race in pretty light breeze, basically because of his natural light air speed and just plain better boat handling. I really hurt me and was eating me inside to watch the race because I knew that if I was on the water, I would have been right there with Charlie battling him for the bullet, especially in that breeze and college type course. I will continue to work hard and do all that I can to prepare me for laser sailing this summer in addition to being successful in school and college sailing over the next few months.

I hope you enjoy the reports! I truly appreciate all of your continued support as I work towards my dream! I can't wait to catch up with you in person soon, keep in touch, Cheers!

Chris Barnard