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2021 West Marine US Open Sailing Series - Clearwater Preview

by US Sailing 3 Feb 17:01 PST February 4-7, 2021
2021 West Marine US Open Sailing © US Sailing

Over 200 sailors from 13 countries participated in the first two regattas of the 2021 West Marine US Open Sailing Series in Fort Lauderdale and Miami. The new series moves to southwest Florida in Clearwater for four days of racing in mostly Olympic-class racing, beginning this week on Thursday, February 4 through Sunday, February 7, 2021.

The Organizing Authorities for this 2021 US Open Sailing Series regatta are Clearwater Yacht Club, Clearwater Community Sailing Center, Tampa Bay Charities, and Sail Life.

The Clearwater Yacht Club and the Clearwater Community Sailing Center will welcome over 100 sailors from 13 countries to race in five classes. The classes in competition for both men and women this week in Clearwater are the Laser Standard, Laser Radial, Laser 4.7, iQFoil (Men, Open), and Foiling Kites.

Sailors this week represent countries including the United States, Canada, Mexico, US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Great Britain, Ecuador, Guatemala, Venezuela, Colombia, Chile, and Turkey.

On par with both events in Fort Lauderdale and Miami, the entry list in Clearwater features Olympians, US Sailing Team members, international sailors, college sailors, local standouts, Olympic Development Program (ODP) members, and other young sailors looking to test their skills against top-notch competition.

Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) headed back to her hometown of Clearwater after the Fort Lauderdale event wrapped. She has been training with her coach, Steve Mitchell, a few local Laser sailors, and the ODP (Olympic Development Program) Laser Radial squad. Railey posted a fourth place finish at US Open Sailing - Fort Lauderdale and is in a great position to perform well at her home venue and in familiar conditions.

Charlotte Rose (Houston, Texas) returned to her college town of Jacksonville, Florida upon the completion of US Open Sailing - Fort Lauderdale, where she placed 13th. She got back into her gym routine on campus, got organized for her upcoming semester, and reconnected with her college sailing teammates.

Farrah Hall (Annapolis, Md.) returned home to Annapolis, Maryland after competing at US Open Sailing - Miami. She made the podium after placing third overall and first place in the women's division of the iQFoil. Conditions were light and difficult for the foiling boards in Miami, but things are looking up for Clearwater and Hall is looking forward to learning more about the newest equipment for Paris 2024 and getting some firsthand experience under her belt on the racecourse.

U.S. Olympic Head Coach, Luther Carpenter, expressed that the athletes are very excited to return to great sailing conditions in Clearwater and the classic Gulf of Mexico conditions. "The sailing community and facilities in Clearwater are top-notch, and we have enjoyed decades of coming to Clearwater Beach in the winter season to train and race," said Carpenter.

"We have had a strong winter season over the last three months and look to cap it off with an exciting event here in Clearwater. This event is especially exciting, as it is the first Olympic-class regatta for the new kite discipline. This fleet is coming from an excellent training camp last week coached by Charlie McKee and US Sailing Team member Dane Wilson (Ojai, Calif.), and the group is stoked to test their skills on the course."

Luther showed his optimism about the development of the iQFoil class. "The iQFoil class has seen growth and participation this winter, and the fleet is primed for great foiling conditions and mixing it up on the course."

He also discussed the Laser classes what this week's competition brings. "The Radial class will enjoy solid competition, with Tokyo bound Paige Railey sailing on her home waters, joined by a very talented group of 2024 talent pushing her to higher performance. US Sailing Team coach Steve Mitchell will be coaching Paige, while 2008 Radial Gold Medalist Anna Tunnicliffe Tobias will be coaching the rest of the squad. Fred Strammer will be coaching the very hard working and avid Laser group, who have been grinding, pumping iron, S-curving, and recovering over the last few months in Florida."

Fairlie Brinkley, Chairman of the Board of Sail Life and Event Principal Race Officer, is excited for the Clearwater community and for all the sailors racing this week. "Hosting a US Open Sailing Series event is a dream come true for Clearwater. Sailing conditions on the Gulf of Mexico can change dramatically in a matter of 15 minutes. It takes a physically strong athlete with outstanding tactical skills to win a regatta such as the US Open here in Clearwater."

Frank Chivas, President of Sail Life and Tampa Bay Charities, explained how excited the community is to be hosting this West Marine US Open Sailing event for years to come. "To be awarded the US Open Series on a multiyear basis will allow us to fine tune our organization and provide even better regattas for our athletes year-after-year leading up to the 2028 Los Angeles Games. We are excited that five of our regional Clubs have joined us and see this as a stimulus for a renewed interest in sailboat racing throughout the Tampa Bay and Sarasota communities."

Sail Life has hosted five Olympic Class World Championships at the Clearwater Community Sailing Center over the past several years. Backed by a consortium of public and private organizations, Sail Life has been able to recruit top U.S. and international judges and race officers, while providing educational opportunities for local race committee members.

Rich in history and tradition, the Clearwater Yacht Club is one of the oldest yacht clubs in the United States. Established in 1911, the Club is located on beautiful Clearwater Beach. They are focused on getting sailors and all boaters out on the water, to encourage sailing, and make their members more proficient in seamanship and navigation.

The Clearwater Community Sailing Center provides safe, enriching, and affordable sailing opportunities to local residents and visitors, including youth, seniors and the disabled for the enjoyment and benefit of our entire community.

On Monday, January 11, US Sailing and host yacht clubs at sailing venues in Florida and California launched a new racing and training series of Olympic-class regattas in 2021 and beyond.

The West Marine US Open Sailing Series offers an increase in high-quality Olympic-class racing for U.S. athletes with a goal of attracting top-level international competitors to race in these regattas for years to come.

US Sailing and the larger community of sailors in the U.S. identified a demand for a racing and training platform based in the United States that serves to provide as a runway to the Olympic Games for prospective athletes. With the 2028 LA Olympics on the distant horizon, it is essential for US Sailing to establish a consistent and predictable cycle for athletes to plan for on an annual basis.

The first two events of the 2021 series took place in January at venues in Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

For more information visit the official 2021 West Marine US Open Sailing Series event website.

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