After a couple months of excellent sailing in both Toronto and Kingston, CORK represented the end of training in our home waters this summer. This year, CORK was not part of the Canadian Sailing Team qualifications. Consequently, it represented a training regatta in order to hone certain sailing skills.
This year’s CORK provided all kinds of conditions, from a strong 15 – 20 knot southwesterly to the notoriously tricky light north winds. Throughout the regatta, my boat speed upwind was very good making improvements in medium breeze chop especially. Downwind I needed a higher work rate in some conditions in order to keep my speed up. These are things I have been working on and successfully doing in training – but need to perfect while in racing.
One thing that was reinforced this regatta was the importance of the saying ‘every boat counts’. On the last race of the second day, I started at the pin and misjudged the line, ending up getting shot out. At the same time, the wind wound all the way right and while I did my best to catch up – I ended up rounding the top mark in 5th last. After a good downwind, I worked my way through the fleet for the rest of the race and ended up catching about 30 boats to finish 11th. At this point, I thought it was great to come back from such a deficit, but I was sure the 11th would still be one of my two drop races. As it goes, on the third day I got my second black flag (over early disqualification), meaning I had used up both my drop races. In the final race of the regatta – I had a similar comeback. Going into the last race I was close to Mitchell Kiss, a young and talented American sailor from Michigan. I was 8 points ahead of him, so I needed to both: not let him beat me by more than 8 boats, and finish top 22 (his 2nd drop was a 14). I had a great start at the boat, but thought there was more pressure out right so tacked onto port. After about a minute, everybody to the left of me began to wind up and shear off. Trying to get back, I was only sailing knocks as the pressure/shift had not come to our side of the course yet. I rounded the top mark in about 7th last (even worse by the bottom mark when people started dropping out of the race). Making things worse, on the second upwind Mitchell (who was not too far ahead of me) covered me and gave me bad air the whole way up. Because of this, I rounded again in the bottom few going into the final downwind. On the last downwind, I went high, separating from the group in front of me – and worked hard the whole downwind. I must have hooked into some extra pressure too, because at the bottom I just managed to round on the outside of the pack. I pushed ahead on the reach to round clean ahead of the massive group, with Mitchell somewhere in it. After finishing, I counted the boats in front of me and realized I’m in fact 22nd and beat Mitchell what I found out was a very close tie-break. The point is – it doesn’t matter if you’re battling for 1st or 31st – every point counts and can have a lot more importance than you think.
I will be taking what I’ve learned at CORK, and hopefully none of the black flags over to Santander, Spain for the ISAF Laser World Championships happening September 12-19th.