In early July the Ontario Sailing Team and I travelled to Mentor, Ohio for the USA Laser Nationals Regatta. This four day event was hosted by Mentor Harbour Yacht Club on Lake Erie and offered both a variety of conditions and challenging competition with over 100 radials in attendance.
The first day of the regatta winds were light to medium and shifty. The waves were large rollers and were accompanied by some current. I had great starts but some poor choices resulted in me being on the wrong side of the fleet for some shifts. I finished the day with a 9th and a 15th.
Day two brought my best racing of the regatta. With conditions medium in terms of wind (ranging between 4 - 12 knots) and big rollers for waves. Less current led to more difficult starts as a majority of the fleet could have good accelerations. I felt I had some of the best boat speed on the race course and was fast all day. I had finishes of 3, 4, 17, and 6. This marked the halfway point of the regatta and the end of the qualifying series. After 6 races with 5 to count I was in 14th place and qualified for gold fleet.
After the highs of day two came the lows of day three. The breeze and waves came up resulting in some unfamiliar conditions for me including the biggest waves I’ve ever sailed in. Unfortunately I struggled unsuccessfully all day to figure out how to sail fast in these new conditions. To compensate for my perceived lack of speed I was extremely aggressive in my starts resulting in 2 black flags. I had finishes of 21, 26, 52 BFD, and 52 BFD.
The final day of racing was extremely light and the race committee only managed to race us once in winds ranging between 1 and 4 knots. After one of the best starts in the fleet at the midline I worked my way up the left side of the beat staying first row. Much to my disappointment another right shift came in at the top ⅓ of the beat. This resulted in me getting passed by a number of boats out of the right corner. I finished the race with a respectable 19th.
This regatta was a great opportunity to test my skills against a large and talented fleet. It offered a valuable learning experience; be prepared for the different conditions. Getting the opportunity to go before a regatta and spend time training at the venue can be immensely important for boosting your confidence going into the event. Sadly for this event I didn’t do that and it cost me when I faced difficult new conditions on the third day.
All in all I had a fun time in Mentor for this regatta. I felt that I gained a lot of valuable experience in larger fleets and learned a ton. I finished up in 26th place overall. I am happy with my effort and look forward to taking some of my learnings to my next regatta back in the familiar waters of Lake Ontario at Four Sisters Regatta hosted at PCYC the July 16-17 weekend.