This year the US Sailing Center Martin County would be the hosts for C420 Midwinters East. 103 boats congregated in Jensen Beach for this event from February 16th to the 18th. I met up with my crew, Ximena Escobar, at the San Diego airport on Thursday. We had one full day of travel and one full day of practice with the coaches in Florida. Orlando greeted us with warm weather as we left the rain behind in San Diego. The weather would hover around 80 degrees and 70% humidity the entire weekend.
The first day of sailing was a practice day. That morning we received the charter boat and went to work rigging and tuning the boat best we could while on land. That afternoon was a practice with the LISOT group consisting of nine boats from various locations. I was impressed with the space just beyond the beach launch. A weak, westerly wind constituted a practice involving an 8 knot max. Leaving the practice that day, I felt confident but nervous and also not knowing what to expect. A lot of other boats had competed in large events like this, including two triple crown winners. This was our first national event, our fourth event sailing together, and my sixth time driving in a C420 regatta.
The first day of racing was just as hot as the practice day. The race committee postponed us on land for an hour, changing the harbor start to 10:30. When the time arrived to launch, I was confused why we were all getting on tow’s since the space in front of the sailing center was adequate enough. But nonetheless, a twenty minute tow brought us to a bigger and more vast racing area. An easterly breeze quickly escalated to around 15 knots. It was a treat to sail in a warm breeze, getting soaked in only board shorts and a dry shirt and not feeling cold. We were winning the first race until our boom vang broke, just before the reach leg, allowing two boats to pass us. We ended the day with three races in the top ten and a twelfth. Upon arriving back at the beach, we learned we had been scored a BFD. This meant we were over while the u-flag was being flown and we were disqualified from that race. Knowing that our discard had been used so early in the regatta, we knew we would have to sail very well in the upcoming days. Without the discard being factored in, we were in 28th place after the first day of racing.
The third day of sailing was equally as hot and a sunburn from the first day, didn’t make it any better. That day we had an earlier start, the harbor start being at 8:30 in the morning. The wind started out very light, only about 6 knots from the north. It was like this until the second race ended, then the sea breeze filled in from the west. Its full force was felt in races three and four with gusts up the 18 knots. On the third race our topping lift hook fell off and required a large amount of e-tape to have a pole for the final downwind and reaches. We finished in the top ten for all four races on day two. This left us in ninth place with a score very close to the boats in 8th and 10th place.
The last day was the championship races. They divided the boats in half, the top fifty-two in gold and the rest in silver. This meant the races would be more difficult but worth the same amount of points. The first race saw a huge wind shift and velocity decrease making for a very tricky race. The race committee postponed us for an hour waiting for wind to settle in. Knowing we had used our drop early on, I was a little nervous for the last two races. The final races ended with 12 to 15 knots of wind and had us feeling like we had done everything we could.
In the end we battled our way to 6th place overall, just losing the tie breaker to 5th. The regatta left with a grin on our faces and a sunburn on my skin. The top five had some really good sailors who were veterans to the class. This has boosted our confidence, knowing we can sail almost as well as the best. It was an honor to represent SDYC in a huge regatta. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity to expand my sailing and would like to say “thank you”.