To sum up Team HP’s regatta experience in a few words: long days, challenging conditions, weeds everywhere and shifty offshore breeze. All of these factors amounted to an unpredictable and extremely challenging week!
We began with a bang, starting out the event with two keepers and leading going into the 2nd day of the event. With light air shifting all over the river basin, we sat out on the water for 4 hours, waiting for more stable breeze to fill in. When the race committee began the only race of the day, it was 6:00 at night! After battling back from a bad start, we were able to come back to 16th in a light air race with the O flag up (full pumping conditions for the crews!).
The next couple days presented different challenges. Like we mentioned in our previous newsletter, weeds had engulfed the river basin and were a formidable opponent themselves. With one more race under our belts on the third day of racing we managed to crack the top 10. The fourth day of racing was all about navigating through the weeds, which our team did not succeed at. After two rough races, we rallied back with a top 10 and were still in the hunt!
We woke up in the morning of the final day of regular series to thunder and lightning storm. Once again, we sat on land, waiting for a later start time. At 3:00 we were sent out for the start in offshore shifty breeze and constantly changing pressure. Before the start of the first race of the day, we found ourselves dealing with a twisted spinnaker, causing us to miss the 5 and 4 minute guns. Our time to distance the line was therefore distorted and we ended up having to gybe out at pin layline. Compounding the prestart errors, we hit the windward mark and had lots of weeds on the reach. Even so we battled back for a keeper score of a 15. Once again, we pumped ourselves up for what turned out to be in the final race.
After a great start, we held our lane all the way out to the previously favored left hand side. Though we executed our game plan, the right won big and once again we were in catch up mode. Battling back, we ended up the race with a 10th and were in 8th going into the medal race.
With this event being our Olympic Trials, our sites were set on the other American Girls who were in 6th place heading into the medal race. We managed to get to the race course quite early and had a very good grasp on what the big picture conditions would be. Off the line, racing was tight as boats started to settle into their own gameplans. We were able to weave our way through the traffic to be leading boats coming back from the right hand side. During the beat, there was a big left hand shift and the two boats who came from that side gained. We rounded the top mark in a close third, and rounded simultaneously with the leader around the bottom. On the beat, we positioned ourselves well and were winning half way up. After hitting a bad weed patch and slowing down, the Polish girls passed us and rounded in first. We finished up the race in 2nd and moved up to 6th place overall, beating the other Americans by two places!!
We learned a lot from this event. Always keep fighting. Teamwork and communication can help get through anything. And we can win a medal if we keep the pedal down.