Pan Am Games Qualifier: Clearwater US Open

It’s been a big weekend!

I’ve been preparing for the Clearwater US Open Sailing Series for quite a while. This was a major target event for me as is one of the opportunities to qualify for the 2023 Pan American Games.

The Pan Am games will be a crucial opportunity to qualify for the 2024 Olympics and therefore securing a spot at the Pan Am’s was a major goal of mine this year.

I’ve sailed in Clearwater before and this venue can really throw anything at you. There were some solid European riders as well as all the main Pan American riders competing. We had 4 days and 16 races scheduled for the event. I was aiming to be in the top 3 Pan American countries which would ensure I get a spot for Chile 2023

Day 1 involved very light wind and we were the only class to get racing off in the ~6 knots of breeze. I had a couple decent races and a couple not so good ones.

Day 2 Was an absolute blow out and the Race Committee was unable to safely exit the harbour to set our course, so no racing was possible.

Day 3 Had moderate breeze from an offshore direction. This means that the wind can be especially unstable and that can affect the kites in the air. It was difficult to tell what size kite to use. I went with the 21m kite and once I got to the race course, I realized it was the wrong decision. I had to go back and switch for 15m. I made it back to the start line in time but unfortunately, my kite fell out of the sky in a weird wind burst and it caused me to miss the first race.

With some boat support I was able to get it back in the air and raced in the next 3 races and had some decent finishes. I was involved in a lengthy protest that night which took away from time to tune and check my gear. This is all part of the game though. Going into the last day I think I was 0.3 points behind qualifying.

Day 4 was a bit dramatic and had its ups and downs. Initially it didn’t seem like we were going to get any racing due to light winds and fog. Fortunately, a sea breeze prevailed, and we went out for 4 more races. Race 1 and 2 were tight but I moved up enough points to qualify. Race 3 started well but in a stroke of bad luck I hit the anchor line of a crab pot on the upwind. It was a big blow to morale as it resulted in losing a lot of positions despite getting back up and catching a few people.

Going into race 4 I couldn’t calculate where I was standing in my head and so I pretty much thought it was all over. I still put it all out there in the last race and in the end I was able place well enough to Qualify for the Pan Am Games by a 3 point difference. It was a serious reminder that every race matters and not to give up early.

I’m really excited about this opportunity to represent Canada and have a chance to qualify the country for the 2024 Olympics.

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