by Dana Paxton
Eight American sailors traveled to the ISAF Sailing World Championships Test Event, Sept. 9-14, to gain valuable information about the sailing conditions, venue and operations in advance of the 2014 event. The combined world championships in Santander, Spain, will act as a country qualifier for the 2016 Olympic Games, and a barometer of the expected competition in Rio.
CIUDAD DE SANTANDER Trophy
For US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider, last week’s regatta provided a comprehensive look at a variety of wind and sea state conditions, while serving as a check-in with the international fleet.
US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider’s Fred Strammer and Zach Brown won a silver medal in the 49er class behind the gold-winning Spanish team of Diego Bolin and Pablo Turrado.
'Our fleet was had only five boats and were mostly young 49er teams,' said Strammer. 'The two local Spanish teams taught us a lot about the wind conditions, especially on the trickier race circles.'
The top-performing American team was back in the Olympic skiff after a summer of rehabilitation for skipper Strammer following an injury to his shoulder. 'Our biggest challenge was getting comfortable sailing again with our injuries,' said Strammer. He went onto explain that Brown’s recent accident in which he cut his forehead has healed. Of his own shoulder injury, he said: 'Although I am still two months away from a full recovery, I have good range of motion but lack upper body strength.
'Part of our challenge this week was learning to sail the boat a little differently so that I didn't rely on my upper body strength as much; i.e. kneeling to hook up instead of hang and hook. We started the regatta poorly with a lot of small issues, but we finished strong.'
The regatta was an opportunity for sailors to learn the event’s venue and conditions in advance of 2014 when it will serve as a country qualifier for the 2016 Games. 'Santander is a fantastic venue with a lot of unique racing circles,' said Strammer. 'Overall, mastering sailing in confused waves will be important as there can be large swell, wind waves, and waves reflecting off the rock cliffs. Each has a different direction and can make executing maneuvers difficult. Zach and I are happy with our decision to spend time there and have a solid training plan to prepare for the ISAF Worlds next year.'
The 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships will bring together the world’s top sailors in the 10 Olympic classes selected for the 2016 Olympic Games.
2nd – 49er, Fred Strammer (Nokomis, Fla.) and Zach Brown (San Diego, Calif.)
4th – Women’s 470, Anne Haeger (East Troy, Wis.) and Briana Provancha (San Diego, Calif.)
6th – Men’s 470, Stuart McNay (Boston, Mass.) and David Hughes (Miami, Fla.)
16th – Women’s RS:X, Farrah Hall (Annapolis, Md.)
27th – Men’s RS:X, Carson Crain (Houston, Texas)
US Sailing Team website