Sailor Chick of the Week recognizes excellence. In results, in attitude, in looks; and now in communication. This great story was written by Amanda Taselaar, this week’s SCOTW. If the name sounds familiar, it should – dad just won the M32 Worlds last month – but Amanda is going to be a force to be reckoned with in her own right. If not on the racecourse, then right here on the front page of SA. Congrats!
My summer started off with the battle of the Swine Flu in Germany. Over my week and a half there, I think I spent about four hours sailing total – not a good way to start off. Anyway, I was ready to put my infectious German hotel room behind me and continue on my journey. After such a rough time in the brutally cold Kiel, I was ready for some fun. I was off to Riva del Garda, Italy to sail Intervela – where I then bombed my regatta. One day after the next I was not sailing to the best of my ability. Two regattas down and I had the big one left – the Ladies 420 World Championship ,also in Riva. Once again, things did not go my way because of the three flags I was given. Rocking, pumping, paddling during the race…I guess we did it all. My summer probably sounds like one that may not be appealing, but I at least got to experience the interesting weather, people, and food of Lake Garda and Kiel. My next step was Rochester, New York in the beginning of October.
Hopping off the plane, driving to Rochester Yacht Club, and stepping on the dark gray kilometer scale was the start to my Rolex experience. With all of our clothes, shoes, and socks on, our team was still thirty kilos underweight. Rolex would be my first keelboat regatta and the first day of the regatta was my fourth day sailing a keelboat in my life. I was hoping for some lighter breeze, but we arrived at the yacht club with a forecast for 47 knots. I had never experienced this before, but the race committee called off the day at 8:15 am. Everyone was pretty bummed out, but my team and I made the most of the day by spending it at the Strong Museum, a museum with basically all the toys ever made – in other words, a kid’s fantasyland.
After an exhausting day at the museum filled with toys – we spent a decent amount of time playing Dance-Dance Revolution – I was pumped for day number two. The forecast was for 10-15 knots and I was ready to rock. On our way out to the racecourse with team Donder: Claudia Taselaar, Chafee Emory, and Elizabeth Kratzig, we had a team briefing before the first start. Deciding our goals were to not hit any marks, not hit any other competitors, not rack up any letters on the scoreboard, and to sail how we sail best, we were ready to compete. Surprisingly, the sun was shining and there were no clouds in sight. After completing the first two races, the race committee congratulated everyone over the radio – yay for two races!! One moment I don’t think I will ever forget is on the upwind beat of the second or third race, Anna Tunnicliffe and I were neck in neck. I was so focused on my driving that I did not realize we were rolling over Anna until Elizabeth yelled, “Hey Anna, you’re getting rolled by a seventeen year old!” Obviously,I was mortified ,and I decided that Anna would probably never talk to me again. At the end of a beautiful, but extremely shifty and puffy day, team Donder ended in sixth place overall. Arriving on shore to an interview and my name in the top ten, I felt on top of the world.
Day number three was probably not the typical day, but what’s a typical day anyway? The night before, we got a message saying that all the teams had to take their team picture. So, we had gone to the local “Toys R Us” to pick up some Nintendo shirts so we would all be matching – no, unfortunately we are not sponsored by Nintendo. We were the first boat to drift out off the dock into the glassy harbor. Before we left, we made sure to bring the most important tool – a deck of cards given to us in our regatta bag. At 10 am, after the longest tow in the history of sailing (I don’t think I have ever seen more boats on one tow in my life), we were postponed. Luckily, we were the most prepared with our Magic Marine deck of cards. We played games and told each other our fortunes for about two hours. Still, there was no wind in sight so the race committee decided to intervene – bingo cards and crayons were distributed to each team. Over the radio, the race committee announced bingo numbers which occupied another portion of our afternoon. Unfortunately, we did not win, but we got some good laughs out of it. After the abandonment of day three, we headed in. Even though no racing was completed for the second day during the regatta, team Donder got some valuable bonding time on our J22.
We woke up on day four, the last day of the regatta, to gray skies, rain, and twenty knots. For me, getting dressed for sailing is an important step in the process and I decided to layer up on everything I brought with me. This day was the first day for my sister and I to sail a J22 in bigger breeze. We practiced a few gybes and tacks before the start and we were starting to feel a bit more confident. In our first two races of the day we finished 10th in both and I was so excited. With my unstoppable, swift as a bunny-rabbit sister on the bow, our gybes were unbeatable. In the third and final race of the regatta, we started the race off in second, and ended it in a close second – it was once of the most intense, exhilarating races I ever sailed. I was sweating in 40 degrees and 18 knots. When we got to the dock, I raced for the food bag, which we had left in the car. If anyone knows me, it’s that I like to eat and going a whole day out on the water without food is like me being starved for a month.
Team Donder returned to Rochester Yacht club, all spruced up after long, hot showers, to celebrate at the gala. Everyone was brought under a big white tent where people were thanked, others were introduced, and the awards were given out. When the announcer said that he would be giving awards backwards from 10th place up, my heart started racing faster and faster. I could not believe I was getting an award!! I made Chafee walk in front of me so I would not have to be first to get our shiny silver plates for seventh place. When we all stood up there, with plates in our hands, photos being taken, and the crown roaring, I don’t think I have felt more accomplished in my life. Following the awards ceremony I was congratulated by Anna, the winner of the regatta. I was wrong, she decided to talk to me after allD inner was served and the ladies boogied down in the dance floor.
On my plane ride home, I thought about the whole regatta and I decided that it was one of the most fun, worthwhile experiences. I was able to meet a ton of new people, improve my sailing, and have so much fun all in the short time four days. This championship has inspired me to compete in more keelboat regattas and it showed me that my sister, Claudia, is a sick bow girl. I hope that one day I will be able to fulfill my dream of winning the Women’s International Keelboat Championship