The final day of the Laser Midwinters at Clearwater Beach saw us running two races in a light, southerly 5 knot breeze. The lighter conditions and bumpy sea state gave us a new challenge, and very different conditions from the northerly winds we raced in during the first three days. It reminded me of the typical conditions found in Newport Beach, California - underpowered and bumpy. Also, the north-flowing current added two challenges to the day. It reduced the wind pressure upwind, and it was swirling, producing "lanes" of stronger and weaker current. This played havoc with normal tactics and made it frustrating for the fleet.
I was challenged finding any decent speed upwind. The good sailors have developed a special feel for these conditions, and know how to set up the vang, outhaul, and mainsheet, and can sail high with good speed. Sailing low to gain speed wasn't an option because the boatspeed wasn't faster, and it ended up being just simply sailing lower with no significant gain. I spent more time focused on what the top guys were doing and trying to develop the proper feel. I ended up scoring in the 30's in the two races which were more points then I totaled for the first three days of racing- painful! This dropped me from 13th to 25th place in the final overall standings.
All in all, I felt it was an outstanding week for my Laser sailing. In the first three days of the four day event (with the exception of the first race), I rounded the top mark no worse than 6th and was leading in one of the races. My downwinds are improving and on my second upwind legs, I either gained on other boats or held my own. My upwind speed was good with the exception of the last day. Also, my Laser starting technique is still evolving and was an improvement from the last regatta. Most importantly, I have more confidence coming from this event and more resolve to improve in the areas where I have weaknesses.
To celebrate my successful regatta I went for an hour run after the awards presentation on Clearwater Beach, as the sun set.