US ILCA Masters National Championships Alameda, California
Date: October 2023
Author: Phil Paxton
Eugene Dombrowski, coach extraordinaire, and I went to the Alameda Community Sailing Center to compete in the US ILCA Masters National Championships. Wind looked good. Tides mostly in ebb. Warm and an awesome end of season regatta. The competition looked stiff. Great promise. We were not disappointed! Sadly, it was not Eugene or myself that topped the podium, though two Canadians did us all proud with 1st and 2nd place overall.
The ILCA class had agreed to support a day of coaching prior to racing, and it was a perfect day. Lots of training and races. Great wind and Julian Soto, our coach, was on task. Both Eugene and I received great coaching. We were reminded to look over our shoulders on the downwind to monitor wind shifts. Especially useful in Alberta. The waves were superb to surf and getting in the groove was key. Eugene has spent too much time out of the boat (he has been coaching an amazing group of athletes our of Glenmore Sailing Club) and he improved steadily all weekend, especially on the downwind legs. His downwind looked mighty dangerous at the end of 4 days – beware Alberta sailors – is back on form!
Ebb tides required us to get multiple transects on the start or an OCS/UFD could be on the records. The tide was easily 2 knots and seemed especially noticeable at marks, therefore starts were key! I managed 3 OCS all weekend. Two, I was sure I was over and went back, but the other was especially tough as I thought I was clear. It hurts to come 14th to find you are scored a 42nd, though that’s sailing and demonstrates that I was pushing the line with the best of them.
Comradery is a huge part of Masters sailing. I would say I have raced against most of these guys at least once. They give no mercy on the water, though they are the best of fun off the water. Each night was full of merciless laughter, hearty food and lashings of Emilio’s delicious wine. The first Warning Signal, really helped with the soft reminder of a dull headache.
Travelling is such a big part of sailing and broadens your experiences to discover and achieve better technique, tactics and results. I was particularly delighted to see how Eugene and I improved over the weekend.
I would like to share some key takeaways:
- Do not stray too far from the rhumb line downwind. Why? The current was hard to come back against one way and on the other gybe, you could easily over stand the mark.
- Focus on getting back on a wave as quickly as possible.
- Watching for shifts on the downwind as well as the upwind.
- Risk vs reward. This equation consistently fascinates me in sailing. I wish I could solve it and I challenge all sailors to think about this as I know it is key to major breakthroughs. Maybe we could host an evening at the CYC in the winter on this exact topic and Eugene leads the discussion?
Lastly if you have time look up the Alameda Community Sailing Center (https://www.sailalameda.org/). It is a 501k charity and what they have done is incredible in less than 10 years. It makes me think that we might be able to create a Foundation in Alberta. We could introduce youth to sailing. We could improve inclusivity. We might become water aware. Alameda Community SC puts though 150 new sailors every week throughout the summer. Could the ASA help create something like this and bring more newcomers to our sport, that would trickle down to clubs? The dream is big, though the reward is everlasting!
Travel. You will learn tons and meet lots of great people. Sailing for life.
As RYC has in its entranceway. ”This club is built for fun. It’s later than you think”
If you are an Albertan sailor or Club, we want to hear from you, share your photos, stories, and updates regarding what’s going on at your Club. Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org!