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2018 Optimist US Team Race National Championship at Pensacola Yacht Club - Day 2

by Troy Gilbert with Talbot Wilson 22 Jul 2018 03:24 BST 20-22 July 2018
Full four boat teams represent Canada, Great Britain and the USA and many of the teams are composed of young sailors from multiple countries. © Talbot Wilson

The marathon on the waters of Pensacola Bay turned into a sprint today as racing on Day-2 of the 2018 Optimist Team Race National Championship pushed into high gear. Under the guise of Team Race National Championship Principal Race Officers (PRO) Dwight LeBlanc and John Alden Meade, the twenty-four teams powered through the remaining 13 races necessary to split the fleet into Gold and Silver groups on the Alpha and Bravo courses. The PRO's then orchestrated a clockwork factory of racing in the next round with starts every four minutes for both fleets.

"Saturday was about technique with great boat handling at the marks and amazing strategies from these kids. They would launch a really fast kid, the next one would come into place and then block." Race Committee Chairman Tom Pace, Jr. was blown away by the precision of the action, he continues, "There were a few crashes and dumps at the marks which greatly affected the strategies, but the kids were just out here ripping. Sheeting in, racing and being very tactical."

With the Stage 1 Gold Fleet Qualifying Round-Robins finished by mid-afternoon Saturday, the top six teams from each course moved to Course Alpha to race up to 66 more races to qualify for the Stage-2 Gold Fleet Knock-out races. The 12 other teams will compete on the Bravo Course.

Teams that qualified for the Gold Fleet Round-Robin #2 from Course Alpha were LYC 1 (Team 19), Chicago Skyliners (Team 4), CRYC Vectran (Team 8), LOOT 1 (Team 17), LISOT GOLD (Team 15), LOOT 2 (Team 18).

Teams that qualified for the Gold Fleet round robin #2 from Course Bravo were LISOT BLACK (Team 13), CRYC Spectra (Team 7), CERT Blue (Team 2), JK Bla┬░ (Team 10), LISOT CYAN (Team 14) and LYC 2 (Team 20).

Like pint-sized gladiators waiting to be released into the coliseum, the starting guns freed these sailors to push themselves, their skillsets and their competitors to the limit. Precision ballet tacks turned optis into guided missiles on starboard disrupting and blocking the other team's tactics, while speedsters ran for the bullets.

The action was intense with leaders calling out rapid fire tactics in sometimes fiery exchanges with periodic 720's popping out along the course and more than a few wipeouts. It was an intense day of racing.

The Gold Fleet completed 40 races and came off the water at 6PM. It was a tough day for these young sailors. They faced a stiff Southwesterly breeze of 10 knots puffing up to 15.

If time allows 66 more races will be sailed in the Gold and Silver Fleet Round-Robbins followed by knock-out matches between the top 12 teams in each fleet. The Sailing instructions allow for a shorter format to end Stage 1 and move into Stage 2. Race-wins do not carry forward into the knock-outs and all teams may not race and races may take place on one or two courses depending on time and weather.

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