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2021 West Marine US Open Sailing Series: Fort Lauderdale - Day 2

by US Sailing 16 Jan 21:52 PST January 15-18, 2021
2021 West Marine US Open Sailing Series – Fort Lauderdale © Ellinor Walters

The Lauderdale Yacht Club was bustling with energy this morning for the start of racing at the 2021 West Marine US Open Sailing Series - Fort Lauderdale. Sailors were especially eager to race after Friday's lack of consistent wind and eventual postponement.

The conditions on a cool, cloudy Saturday in Fort Lauderdale were much improved with a pressure system to the west creating a nice northwesterly breeze. The breeze started at about 10 knots early in the day and continued to build throughout the afternoon with gusts exceeding 20 knots. The wind was coming from the offshore creating tricky conditions.

All three Laser fleets, including the Full Rig, Radial, and 4.7, completed three races on Saturday. Juan Maegli (GUA) takes an early lead in the Laser Full Rig fleet of 42 entries. He won Race 1 and 3, and posted a sixth place finish in Race 2 to take a three point lead.

The 70 Radial sailors were split into two blue and yellow fleets. Chapman Petersen (USA) led the way in the blue fleet with a 2-1-2 scoring line and Kaitlyn Hamilton (USA) had a strong day to pace the yellow fleet with scores, 2-2-5.

Umi Noritake (USA) won the first two races in the 4.7 fleet of 23 boats and added a fourth place finish in Race 3 to take a four point lead.

US Sailing's Olympic Development Program athletes were up for the challenge today.

"The highlight of my day was during the first race," said Conner Nelson (Tampa, Fla.). "I was up there in the top five for a while and competing with these top guys and seeing that I can keep up with their speed. Once I'm able to eliminate a few more mistakes I can be right there at the top consistently."

Another young Laser sailor, Nick Sessions (San Francisco, Calif), expressed his highlight of the day. "It was great being at the top of the fleet. I felt pretty comfortable in my decision to go right and stuck with my plan, but eventually tacked out a little too early about halfway up the beat and lost a couple of boats. But I still had a good race and it was a great learning experience."

Radial sailor Christina Sakellaris (Milton, Mass.) said, "We had a really good first day of racing here. It was really up and down today with huge shifts. We had everything from 8 to 18 knots. I had three really good races. I was just focusing on trying to be really consistent, getting off the line well, and sailing shifts. It was a really fun day."

Steve Mitchell, US Sailing Team Laser Radial Coach, has been looking forward to the US Open Sailing Series events here in Florida after training with Laser Radial athletes in Miami, Clearwater, and Fort Lauderdale over the past three months.

"This is an opportunity to look at the young talent coming through," said Mitchell. "The ODP (Olympic Development) pathway that started after the 2012 Games has been producing some amazing talent over the past few years. For us to be training with the ODP athletes, seeing the yacht club programs that are here, and watching how their programs are advancing is great." See the full interview below on Facebook.

Full Results available here.

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