by Jake Fish
US Youth Sailing Championships, hosted by the Columbia Gorge Racing Association, were held in Cascade Locks, Ore from 15th to 18th August.
US Youth Sailing Championships 2012
For the second straight day, light air ruled on the Gorge for the final day of racing. The Lasers, Laser Radials and Club 420s completed one race each, and the 29ers never got off the starting line.
Winners by division:
Laser Radials: Mitchell Kiss
Lasers: Greg Martinez
Club 420s: Max Simmons / Riley Legault
29ers: Scott Buckstaff / James Moody
Greg Martinez (Houston, Texas) was dominant in the breeze during the first two days and finished strong with a third place finish today in the Laser fleet. The Orange Bowl Youth Regatta Champion led from start to finish, winning five of eight races, and finishing outside the top five once. Nine points behind Martinez was Ian Ikeda (Duxbury, Mass), who edged Daniel DelBello (Bedford, N.Y.) by a single point to squeeze into second place.
'I think the strong winds on the first two days definitely played to my favor,' said Martinez. 'It was great to finish my last youth event with a win.'
Martinez is looking forward to sailing for Georgetown University this fall. He also plans to continue to train in the Laser moving forward.
The US Sailing Development Team member reflects on his training. 'I've learned so much by training with those great sailors and coaches. It really helps me set goals for myself that I can reach.'
Despite phenomenal racing in all fleets, today’s drama was in the Club 420 fleet. Max Simmons (Rowayton, Conn.) and Riley Legault (Bonita Springs, Fla.) came into the day in a tie for first with Esteban Forrer (Coronado, Calif.) and Daniel Ron (Houston, Texas). While Forrer and Ron held the tiebreak advantage, Simmons and Legault persevered, winning the final race, and watching their competition sail their discard. In July, Simmons and Legault fell one point short of winning the C420 North Americans to Bradley Adam (East Greenwich, R.I.) and Charles MacBain (Portsmouth, R.I.) who finished ninth this week.
Simmons spoke to the mindset that he and Legault shared in today’s race. 'It was really light today, and we are one of the lighter teams. We knew we would be faster than our opposition in these conditions, and did everything we could to get some space from them early and let our speed do the work. Riley saw them on the line, and thought they would come after us, but we were able to stay free and take the win.'
For the second day in a row, the Radials sailed a shortened race. This was all but a formality for Mitchell Kiss (Holland, Mich.), who concluded this event with a tenth place finish. Kiss finished fifth a year ago, and has been unstoppable ever since, winning the Orange Bowl Youth Regatta, taking bronze at the ILCA Youth World Championship, and finishing fourth at the ISAF Youth Worlds. He won six of eight races this week, and added a second place finish in race 2. Kiss had a lot to say about the improvements he has made coming into this year.
'I’ve been focusing a lot on improving my techniques and my fitness. I’ve done some training with Paige Railey, and working with her has taught me the importance of hiking harder than you thought you could. She’s told me to man up and just work through the pain, and that’s helped me out a lot in the big breeze.'
With no races in the 29er fleet today, everything remains the same. Scott Buckstaff (Belvedere, Calif.) and James Moody (Tiburon, Calif.) waited out the clock and coasted to a comfortable victory. The two sailed at the Gorge a few weeks ago at the 29er North Americans, which helped prepare them for this week. The pairing finished 17 points ahead of Antoine Screve (Ross Calif.) and Mac Agnese (Fort Lauderdale, Fl.). Moody finished third at the ISAF Youth Worlds in 2010 while crewing for Screve, adding a bit of intrigue at the top of the leaderboard. Buckstaff and Moody won six of nine races and finished once outside the top five to put an exclamation point on their title.
'James and I have practiced a lot in heavy air, so we were really prepared,' said Buckstaff. 'We were confident in our boat handling and were in control of our tacks and jibes throughout.'
Buckstaff is no stranger to the Gorge. 'I know how the wind works up here. It was helpful to know what it was going to do, and not have to figure it out all over again.'
Today's rare conditions on the Gorge included overcast skies and less than 4 knots of wind.
US Sailing website