Photo: Joao Ferrand

Photo: Joao Ferrand

*Newsflash: Top 10 at the 2019 Radial European Championships!

This month I competed in the Radial European Championships in Porto, Portugal. Before arriving at the venue, I had heard stories of how big the swell could get if the wind was blowing from the right direction. After seeing all the social media posts from my competitors who were training early at the site, I could confirm the rumors. The wave size was monstrous, the period was extensive, and the energy behind it was vast. On the plane ride over, it was extremely hard to fall asleep because my body was filled with adrenaline just thinking about putting the nose of my bow in the trough of the wave.

During the training days leading up to the event, I tuned up with Paige Railey (USA), Mari Erdi (HUN), and Pernelle Michon (FRA). After a few speed tests, it became evident that getting through each wave as fast as possible was going to be the priority. Since the wave period was so immense, the swell could easily take control of the boat if you did not have the proper steering and sheeting accuracy. To make it to the top of an upwind leg, it was important to focus on each individual wave and not fall subject to over steering or sheeting. Over the next few days of training, we honed in on perfecting this technique.

When race day arrived and the event commenced, technique wasn't the only factor challenging Coach Steve and I. The championship started out with light winds making the current become a significant influence over the race course. Even with numerous current readings recorded before the start of each race, we always seemed to be late in identifying when and how fast the transition between high/low tide would occur. Though this was frustrating, we were able to gain more accurate tide information as the event went on. In addition to the current, the wind also challenged us. More times than not, there would be more wind on the side of the race course where there was a current disadvantage. It then became a game of choosing whether to sail towards more wind or to current relief. Unfortunately, I seemed to have played the wrong strategy every race which landed me in the top twenty-five around each first mark.

Though I didn't reach the first mark in a decent position in every race, I continually fought back with urgency all the way to the finish line. In hindsight, this mentality what kept my score line consistent. Rather than focusing on the fact that I wasn't nailing the correct strategy for the first upwind, my mind was set on passing as many boats as I could during the race. As soon as I rounded the reach mark and turned onto downwind leg, I put on a big smile and repeated what Coach Steve had told me prior to the race ("permission to send it"). I did just that.

I finished off the championship in 9th place. Due to a few mistakes on the last day, I scored a BFD and a 34th which set me back a few places overall. That being said, my goal to finish within the top 10 and I am proud to have accomplished this. After the Princess Sofia Regatta last month, I contracted some food poisoning and lost a significant amount of strength and weight. To have come away with a top 10 despite recovering from being sick is an achievement. Now it is time to put the hammer down and start ramping up for the World Championships in July!

Thank you to Coach Steve Mitchell and the US Sailing Team & Staff for their hard work and continuing support. Another thank you goes out to my sponsors at Helly Hansen, Almaco, Harken, Marlow Ropes, McLube, Kilroy, & Saint Francis Sailing Foundation. None of this would be possible without your encouragement and shared enthusiasm in my dream.