by Jake Fish
2014 U.S. Junior Women’s Singlehanded Championship - Fort Lauderdale's Sophia Reineke enjoyed a breakthrough performance this weekend at the 2014 U.S. Junior Women’s Singlehanded Championship, hosted by the Mission Bay Yacht Club in San Diego.
Beginning with Friday's first set of races, Reineke asserted herself on the race course and on the leaderboard early on in the championship. By posting bullets in each of the four races Friday, she took a 12-point lead into Saturday. Reineke won two of four races on Saturday to increase her lead over the competitive field of 33 Laser Radial sailors. She entered the Sunday's racing with a 16-point advantage and cruised to victory. With two races remaining in the championship, Reineke refused to sit back for average results on Sunday. She won Race nine to start the day and finished third in Race 10 to close out the championship. She won seven of ten races this week.
Last year's runner-up Lindsay Baab (Saratoga, Calif.) finished in second place again this year. Simone Staff placed third (Los Angeles, Calif.).
'I didn't have really good starts, so I needed to make sure I found the shifts,' said Reineke. 'It was a little tricky, but I paid attention to the wind in the pre-race and that paid off. This event was a lot of fun and the coaches were great. There were all types of different conditions, from light to really windy.'
Reineke placed fifth in the highly competitive women's Laser Radial fleet at the Orange Bowl International Youth Regatta last December. She has three more years of eligibility at the U.S. Junior Women's Singlehanded Championship.
A nice sea breeze settled in for the sailors on Sunday, including breeze at eight to twelve knots for most of the day.
This year’s list of competitors featured a number of top returning sailors from last year’s championship and many young upstarts eager to get better. Five of the top nine sailors from last year’s championship are back.
The U.S. Junior Women’s Singlehanded Championship is an open event that offers tremendous opportunities, skill development focus, and outstanding competition in a fun, safe, high-quality racing environment.
US Sailing Junior National Coach Richard Feeny conducted a two-day clinic that preceded racing on Wednesday and Thursday this week, with a distinguished list of high school and college coaches, including, US Sailing Paralympic Coach Betsy Alison, US Coast Guard Academy Head Coach Brian Swingly, St. Petersburg Yacht Club Head Racing Coach Todd Fedyszyn, former Quantum College Sailor of the Year Alana O’Reilly, and US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider member Allie Blecher (also a former College Sailor of the Year). These clinics familiarized the competitors with the local conditions and race course. Coaches were on site providing instruction and guidance to the sailors for all three days of the championship.
Feeney reflected on this year's event: 'This regatta is one of the coaches' favorite regattas of the year, because of the camaraderie between the sailors is so unique and unrivaled. The Laser Radial continues to be a fantastic testing ground, and here you have some of the top competitors and they work together on their skills and fitness. This is also a great venue where you get 10 to 15 knots for lighter sailors. The conditions were really challenging but not overwhelming.'
The event annually brings first class hospitality to the competing sailors. On Wednesday, the San Diego Hall of Champions hosted a dinner for the competing sailors.
Unofficial top five through eight races
1. Sophia Reineke: 1-1-1-1--1-2-1-1-3- ; 12
2. Lindsey Baab: -3-4-3-2-2-6-4-3-5- ; 32
3. Simone Staff: 7-5-2-[33/DNF]-1-3-1-5-2-10- ; 36
4. Claire Havig: 3-6-7-5-16-6-11-2-9-- ; 65
5. Jessica McJones: 5-4-9--7-12-5-3-7-15- ; 67
The top three boats qualified for early acceptance to the 2015 U.S. Youth Championships, hosted by Eastern Yacht Club (Mass.), which is a qualifier for the 2015 ISAF Youth World Championships, provided they meet the eligibility criteria and submit an application.
• US Sailing Championship medals will be awarded to competitors who finish first through fifth.
• Keeper trophies will be awarded to competitors finishing in the top three.
• The Nancy Leiter Clagett Memorial Trophy is the perpetual trophy presented to the winner.
• The C. Thomas Clagett Jr. Sportsmanship Prize will be awarded to a competitor based on the results of the competitors’ ballots.
Support of the U.S. Junior Women’s Singlehanded Championship, as well as the clinics, is made possible by funds provided by the late C. Thomas Clagett, Jr. This support is intended to encourage young American women to enhance their sailing ability, with emphasis on sportsmanship, by providing the opportunity to compete in national-level competition with guidance from high-level coaching.