St. Thomas Optimist Regatta – Practice Days

We had a great first day in St. Thomas on Wednesday with 10-12 knots of typical sea breeze and 2-3 ft. waves. We focused on technique for boat speed and handling in the waves. Here is a video of some downwind work and I will post some more later of upwind sailing.

Thursday was our second day and we again had picture perfect conditions with a little more wind and bigger waves. The kids all improved from day 1 in the conditions and are psyched for the regatta to start tomorrow. Here is some upwind video from the training.



SailStrong Holiday Opti Clinic 2013 @ the US Sailing Center Martin County in Jensen Beach, FL

Each year SailStrong does a Holiday Clinic just before Christmas and Orange Bowl. In past years we have been in Miami, but this year decided to move up the road to Jensen Beach and sailed from the US Sailing Center Martin County. The venue did not disappoint, with 10-15 knots of breeze and warm temps. One of the best features of USSCMC is the ability to maximize the time of the clinic since transit to and from the sailing area is just a couple minutes. 

We had three coaches for the clinic, Scott Norman, Juan Carlos Romero, and Peter Strong, along with sail designer Mike Marshall of North Sails One Design. This was a huge add on for the kids as they got to delve deep into the way the sails work, how they are designed, and what they can do to set theirs up to go fast for them.

Each year the our Holiday Clinic continues to grow with 24 for sailors this year from several different teams and areas of the country. Our first year had just three kids from our team and the two that have been to all three years of the clinic were happy to see the increase in training partners.

We worked a lot on starting and especially the boat handling and decision making that goes into, and it was great to see the improvement in the fleet’s general starting throughout the four days. Another focus was boat speed and Mike worked with the coaches and kids on the water with sails. We did lots of video of both the starting and boat speed which was a good help to the kids in understanding and applying what we were working on and talking about.

One of the highlights of the clinic was a talk Mike did for the sailors (and a couple parents and members of the sailing center) about the pictures and of the sails he had taken on the water. He talked a lot about how the foils work, and was able to line up different pictures of the sails to help the kids get a visual of what the different designs look like from different angles. One of the best things he did was give the kids an in depth look at what some of the controls do, focusing especially on sprit adjustments and how they affect the leach both upwind and down. Finally maybe some of them will believe the coaches when they are told that sailing downwind with a huge vertical wrinkle is not the fastest approach. Mike talked to the kids for at least an hour, and had them all paying close attention right to the end. If you have ever tried that you know it’s not an easy task. We will try to get up some video from the lecture soon.

A big thanks to Mike Marshall and North Sails One Design for supporting our clinic and making it a better learning experience for the sailors. Thanks also to the US Sailing Center Martin County for hosting us this year and we look forward to coming back soon. As always thanks to Scott Norman and Juan Carlos Romero for your work with the kids.

Come join us next year as we keep improving our Holiday Clinic to make it the best way to get ready to Orange Bowl, or break off the rust in the middle of the winter.

Holiday Clinic Practice Regatta Results

Here are some videos Scott Norman put together of each day of the clinic.

Day 1  Day 2   Day 3  Day 4

Make the switch to refillable water bottles.

At SailStrong we have been using refillable water bottles for a while now, but here is a great video to remind everyone why it is so important to make the switch away from single use plastic bottles. It’s also nice not to have to clean up so much trash in the RIB.

when little people learn to deal with big breeze

Last Sunday we had a ton of breeze on Bellport Bay, but the smallest of our sailors didn’t give up and ended up learning a ton. Best yet they had huge smiles when they came off the water and were all so proud of their accomplishments.

March Update

Our first three weeks of spring sailing have been great practices with 10-12 kids on the water each day. All the sailors have been improving tremendously as we start winding down towards the US Team Trials at the end of April in New Jersey. 

Over the next couple weeks we have several sailors heading to spring international regattas with JC Hermus already in Argentina for the IODA South American Championship and Thomas Rice, Aaron Helmly, and Porter Kavle heading to Holland for the Magic Marine Easter Regatta. We are all very proud of the boys and wish them well. Sail fast, have fun. 

The team has been invited to the Volvo Sailing Academy Team Race in Miami in May. This is part of the Volvo ocean race and takes place in every stop over port of the race. JC, Thomas, Aaron, Gray Benson, and Stephanie Houck will represent the team in Miami and race against the other top Opti teams in the country. Should be a great experience. Check it out here.

Last but not least there is now a SailStrong Youtube channel. I will be posting videos from our practices and regattas. Good to help the kids have a look at their sailing from a different perspective. Here is the first video.