By Lauren Elder (published originally HERE)
The Youth Championship regatta hosted by the U.S sailing association is an amazing opportunity to compete with passionate, advanced group of sailors. I have many positive things to say about my experience at this regatta starting with the venue. Carolina Yacht Club is a beautiful facility right on the ocean where one can frequently rely on a warm sea breeze to fill in, which creates a fun and exciting day of racing. Although day 3 did not have any wind due to storm fronts moving through the area, I still enjoyed myself by going to the beach with my teammates, directly in front of the yacht club. The volunteers and hosts were always specifically kind and went out of their way to either give us a hand getting our boats up the ramp or just starting a conversation about the day.
In addition to the venue, the sailors made my experience very unique. I have only been sailing 29ers for less than a year, but I feel a strong connection between many of the sailors and coaches both on and off the water. The one special aspect about the 29er fleet that I have found different than any other fleet is that everyone is acquainted with one another. There is so much motivation to not only improve ourselves but our teammates too. During our team debriefs we spent time asking each other questions and sharing information, reflecting off of what works well, and what should be avoided as opposed to keeping to ourselves. We all try to learn from each other so we can advance together.
I’d like to mention Richard Feeny, the 29er fleet coach, for keeping track of many, many boats and still being available for giving advice, energy bars, and ice cold water. And also, Phil Muller for being an amazing ODP (Olympic Development Program) coach. All of his kids performed very well and kept great sportsmanship and humbleness throughout the event. As a beginner in this fleet I can’t wait to see how my teammates and I progress throughout the years. I think this regatta was an amazing example of how skilled everyone is, and how absolutely passionate they are about the sport. Unfortunately we did see a few injuries on the first day when the wind was blowing. It is upsetting to see a teammate break a mast, get injured in a capsize, or get trapped beneath a sail (they all swam out safely!), but at the end of the day those kids remained positive and continued to support their teammates on the coach boat, despite not being able to continue.
Overall the Youth Championship Regatta was a lot of fun and had some really strong racing. For most of us, this regatta was a confidence builder and an opportunity to race against the top U.S. boats. Another thanks to The Carolina Yacht Club for hosting such a successful event. Good luck to those of you who are going to Worlds, sail fast!