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Author Topic: Experience Rules the Day at Opti NAs  (Read 4167 times)
Daniel Hearn
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« on: January 26, 2010, 08:42:44 AM »

Thirteen Junior ice sailors assembled for the 2009-2010 Ice Opti North American Championships January 16-17 on Lake Charlevoix near Boyne City, Michigan.  This was the third year for the event, with 6 sailors returning from previous years, joined by 7 first-timers.  Encouragingly, more than a third of the participants were girls, elevating the competition for the “Jane Pegel Trophy,” awarded to the highest finishing female competitor, to its greatest level yet.
 The “veterans” did a great job welcoming the new sailors and sharing their experience on everything from the infamous “Bear Claw” race, to practice life-saving skills, to the “Smarties Chalk Talk Session,” to learn all about safety, course set up, right-of-way rules, and more. 
Good breeze on Saturday allowed for one practice race, to get all the Juniors comfortable with the set up, then three very competitive races with different sailors capturing the top spot in each race.  The Optis sailed in rotation with the DN Gold and DN Silver fleets, utilizing a common leeward mark, but a weather mark set at approximately half the distance.  This made it easy for the adults to watch the Junior races and help out, while maximizing racing opportunities for all attendees.
In between races the Juniors kept themselves very busy generally just goofing off and consuming any food that happened to make its way out on the ice.  (Note to self:  bring more food out on the ice…the kids think it’s a huge lunch room!)
Nearly the entire Junior fleet and their families made it to Pizza Hut Saturday night for the “Any Pizza $10 Deal.”  The kids all jammed around one table, and the adults around another.  Nobody left hungry, and we escaped with just one spill.  Well, at least only one that we know about!
On Sunday, we had a nice breeze to get us out to the course, but then it teased us the rest of the day.  The DN Gold fleet got black flagged on their first attempt, as did the Juniors when they were next to give it go as our “no start after” time limit approached.
In the final tally all the hardware ended up in the hands of the most experienced Junior ice sailors.  First went to Griffin Sherry from the Central Region.  Griffin was also the NA Champion in 2007.  Second went to Augie Dale of the Western Region, who was the defending champion.  Third went to Frankie Hearn of the Western Region.  In fifth place, and recipient of the Jane Pegel Award for the second time, was Sheridan Hearn, also of the Western Region.  Sheridan will be aging out of the Opti class after this season and plans to be back next in a DN. 
Thanks go out to Rich Potcova and the Central Region for hosting the Juniors, Eric Lind for serving as PRO, and to all who contributed to pulling the event together. 
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