It is always hard to look back at an event where you thought you sailed very well, which ended on a low note. Especially when that low note is an aspect of racing seen as a strength on your team. The Test Event was held out of the Marina del Gloria, which was just amazing in itself. The first time Team HP drove the motor boat across Guanabara Bay and entered into the future Olympic venue, goosebumps were had by all.
During our practice days we only trained one time on the “outside” race courses. Much to our surprise the wave pattern out there was not only extremely difficult with no clear pattern, but were also MASSIVE. We are talking only being able to see another 470’s mast when you were right next to them on the water! The first and second racing days of the event, we were out in the thick of these challenging conditions and rose to the challenge. Our speed made racing easy (fast and stupid as our college coach always said!) being able to stay close to the fleet with conservative tactics.The top group was quite far ahead of the rest of the fleet for most of the regatta, consisting of the 2012 Olympic Gold medalists, the 2012 Olympic Silver medalists and ourselves. We did not find ourselves out of the top three during the entire opening series, either fighting back from rough starts or sparing with the top group from the get-go during races.
The day before the medal race was quite tricky wind, and was our first time sailing inside the bay on the Ponte Course. There was a postponement for three and a half hours on the water which consisted in Team HP coming up with quite creative games to play. When we finally got going, the breeze had stabled out quite a bit changing our tactical plan from playing the breeze to playing the current. After the start, we were executing our game plan of extending to a current line when we began going very slowly. We had the exact position on the fleet that we wanted, but could not get the boat going for the life of us. Rounding the top mark in a disappointing 3rd to last, we checked our rudder on the reach and found lots of garbage: Great lesson for events in the future! We fought back hard, but eventually sailed our drop race heading into the medal round the following day.
With some wind delays and a little bit of a stressful morning, the medal race turned out to be a big learning block for our team. We were wearing the yellow bibs out to the race course and were in the exact position we wanted. After struggling with line awareness for most of the previous regatta, we found ourselves in the back of the fleet… in the middle… in light air. From there, it seemed like mistakes kept compounding such as reading current lines incorrectly and missing pressure. We ended up finishing 4th overall in the event due to our last race mistake which was unfortunate since we felt like we sailed well for most of the event. Back to the drawing board for the upcoming ISAF Worlds in Santander, Spain!