The 2010 Orange Bowl International Youth Regatta took place at the Coral Reef Yacht Club in Coconut Grove, FL from December 27 - 30. The regatta is a USA Junior Olympic Sailing Festival and this year 633 sailors from 21 countries and 23 states raced in Optimists, Lasers, Laser Radials, Laser 4.7s, and Club 420s. This was my seventh Orange Bowl; my first was in 2004 when I was 10 years old and sailed in the Opti Green fleet. This year I raced in the Laser Radial and Victor Thuroe, an exchange student from Denmark who is living in my family’s home, raced in Laser Standards. There were about 140 Radials at this year’s Orange Bowl, divided into two fleets.
We hit the road the morning of December 24 and first drove to Orlando where we spent Christmas morning with my aunt, uncle and cousin, and then continued to the US Sailing Center in Miami where we arrived early in the afternoon with plenty of time to unload the trailer and compound and Teflon coat our boats to get them ready for the racing ahead. We were booked into the Gables Inn, which is not in Coconut Grove but just five minutes from the regatta venue and quite a bit less expensive than the hotels along South Bayshore Drive. My dad was glad to hit the hotel since he had been up and driving for over 30 hours. Victor and I spent the trip watching videos and sleeping so we were actually well rested.
The next day, Friday, we were scheduled for a 10:00 am meeting with our coach, Larry Suter (larrysuter.com). Larry is an Olympic coach with whom Victor and I had trained on Long Island, but this was the first time he was going to be our regatta coach. Our group for Orange Bowl consisted of Connor Marion (Cedar Point Yacht Club, Westport, CT), Maeve White (Annapolis Yacht Club), Victor Thuroe (Kerteminde Sailing Club, Denmark) and I (Old Cove Yacht Club, New Suffolk, NY).
The breeze on the first day was 18-20 knots, with gusts to 25. With the forecast calling for even stronger winds later in the day, Larry was anxious to get us out on the water for some practices as quickly as possible. Conditions were fantastic, but we only stayed out for about two hours so we weren’t too tired for racing. Back on shore, we discussed the weather forecast for the next day and what to look out for on Biscayne Bay. Regatta registration at the Coral Reef Yacht Club followed and I was happy to see Duffy Markham, the Sailing Director at Coral Reef YC. Duffy was my first sailing instructor at Old Cove Yacht Club. Dinner was Fresh Market deli - the Fresh Market is located right on South Bayshore Drive and has everything, so it’s really easy to pick up some great food to take back to the hotel.
Saturday was the first day of racing. We left the hotel at 7:00 am in order to get a parking spot at the US Sailing Center. All spots are taken by 7:15, so it’s important to get there early. Having the car and all the gear close by is much more convenient than having to carry everything from a garage up the street.
The first race was scheduled for 11:00 am and we launched our boats to sail out to the racing area at around 9:30. It took 30-45 minutes to sail to the racecourse. The day was sunny and breezy with winds around 16-20 knots out of the NNW, but cold with temperatures in the high 40s/low 50s. The wind then dropped to about 14-16 knots with gusts to 18. Starts were a challenge with many general recalls even though there were only 70 boats on the line at each start; the line was split and the black flag was up. As result we only had two races despite the nice breeze, which was very disappointing.
For Sunday, the forecast called for lighter breeze of 10-14 knots out of the NNW. Now, being in Miami you would think warm weather, shorts, t-shirt and flip-flops, but that morning there was frost and even ice on the boat covers! ICE in MIAMI! It was the coldest in over 150 years! Having to bundle up for frostbiting conditions in Florida was a real shock.
We launched at around 9:00 am. Victor and I were among the first boats in the water. First start was supposed to be 10:00 am, but the Race Committee postponed to allow the stragglers to get to the start. We got in one race in about 10-14 knots out of the NNW, but then the wind dropped and the next race was abandoned because of very light and inconsistent winds.
We waited for about an hour before we moved the course further to the east where a little breeze from the ocean finally came in. What was happening was that the winds coming off the Gulf Stream were rising over the much colder waters of Biscayne Bay, so the 420s who were further out were able to get this breeze right before it lifted up to give us nothing. We then sailed a shortened course in 6-8 knots of breeze. Coral Reef Yacht Club had dinner for the racers that evening, but we still went to the Fresh Market again; for dinner, this place is really the best.
The weather forecast for Monday, the third day of racing, called for light breezes. The wind was about 10 knots when we got out to the racecourse, but the heading on the 420 course was NNE, which was weird considering our wind was coming out of the NNW. So we waited for the anticipated wind shift to come in, which didn’t allow us to get a race off until about 12:30.
The first Radial fleet started but the wind completely died off, and they didn’t make the time limit. As a result, the Race Committee couldn’t count the scores of the second Radial fleet (that had sailed right into the first Radial fleet) because the sailing instructions mandated equal amounts of races for each of the Radial fleets. That was it for the day, and we were back on shore by 2:30, giving us plenty of time to relax before the dinner at the yacht club. Before heading back to the hotel, we went and picked up our trailer at the Convention Center parking lot and brought it back to the US Sailing Center parking lot to have it ready for loading after racing the next day.
For the fourth and last day of racing, the Race Committee called for an earlier start so everything, including our departure from the hotel was moved up by half an hour. The first race was started on time in about 8 knots (maybe even less), but then it died to almost nothing. We were barely able to finish the race...glassy conditions just like Long Island Sound on a hot summer day! Coaches started towing their sailors in because everyone knew there would be no further races. At 12:30 everything was over. So, with only five races in four days this was not my favorite Orange Bowl, but I am sure I’ll be back next year.