Friday, September 22, 2017

PCC's @SFYC 2017- My last ever Opti regatta!

My last ever Opti regatta was the 2017 PCC, at my home club: the SFYC. Depending on how long you have been following me, you might know that my first USODA regatta was the 2014 PCC at my original home club the RYC. It was cool to finish Opti sailing with the regatta I started with.

The first day of competition was a great day as the wind was high and the waves were big. These were perfect conditions for me. On the first race, I did not do too well as I finished 8th which kind of got me disappointed, but I was ready to do better the following race. The 2nd race, I started in the top group and managed to have the lead at the top mark, at the reach mark I was in 2nd, and at the bottom mark, I was far ahead. I had a comfortable lead on 2nd place. On the last upwind, I decided to not bale my boat out and to sail as hard as I could.  Right at the finish line, I made an error and lost my lead. My friend in 2nd place caught up to me and crossed the finish line first but then had an issue and in sailing, when you re-cross the line, you are back in the race. So, we were both still racing but then I crossed first, the race committee scored me 2nd that race which didn't bother me, as this was my last Opti regatta. I could've protested and been scored 1st that race. The person that was scored 1st that race ended up beating me by one point, so if I had protested, I would have been 2nd overall.
The last race of the day was a special race that started out very bad. After the start, I was in last place but since it was windy I caught up most of the fleet and eventually the whole fleet. I tacked over and was in first by a lot. I rounded all the marks first and the bottom mark, my friend told me I had a 3 minute lead on 2nd place thanks to the current on the downwind. At the finish, I won the race with 1 minute 24 seconds lead on 2nd place. I was then 3rd overall.

The second day of competition, the forecast was the same as the previous day. I was so excited to sail my last day in Optis. The first race, just like the day before, was not so good with a 5th place. The second race was good as I scored a 3rd place. The last race of the regatta (and of my Opti career) was pretty windy: I started pretty bad and just like the day before got an early lead. I wasn't very far ahead but I was first at every mark. At the finish, I couldn't believe it, I had finished sailing Optis with a bullet (winning the race). This was a dream come true as when I first started sailing Optis, I always dreamed about winning. Finishing 3rd overall at this regatta out of 65, was also a dream come true.

Optis for me have been an awesome experience, my favroite memory is probably when I qualified for Team USA at the 2016 Spring Team Qualifiers. I also loved this last regatta when I got my first ever USODA bullet. 

I would like to thank all the people that have followed my adventures in Optis and that always came back to read my blog. I would like to thank more specifically my Parents for supporting me through this adventure and helping me become a better sailor and person, my coaches Nico and Tommy for teaching me new techniques at every practice, Jerome and Scality for sponsoring me, and Caroline for helping me with mindfulness and techniques to stay focus. 

I will now start sailing 29ers and Nacra 15s, these boats are very fast and exciting.
I decided to switch to a Facebook page and end this blog, you can follow my adventures.

Thank you again for all of your support, I am looking forward to a new chapter of my sailing life.

Here are some pictures of me sailing:

Here is a picture after the start:

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Topsport Vlandereen Optimist Regatta 2017 @ Nieuwpoort, Belgium

Between the June 27 and July 5, I had the chance to represent Team USA in Belgium. I qualified to represent Team USA this past November in New Orleans (if you want to know more about my qualification you can check out my past blog). My teammates and I traveled to Nieuwpoort, Belgium for the 2017 Topsport Vlandereen Regatta. In Team USA, this time we were fifteen sailors and two coaches. Most sailors were from the East Coast except two of us, a girl and I from California. The venue itself was right out of a harbour protected by two piers to bloke the waves, the Coast was pretty straight, and the their were very shallow waters.

Although we were staying there ten days, the regatta itself was five days long and we had five days of practice. All the practice days were with winds around 10 to 15 knots except one day: my favorite day, with winds around 20 knots. We had the chance to practice race with international sailors from Australia, Great Britain, Ireland, and France. During these races, I got a 5th and a 10th: this really made me decompress as I was very stressed about the other kids level. The day after that we prepared our boats for the regatta.

The first day of racing the wind was near 25 knots with waves reaching two meters high. Because of this, the Race Committee decided to cancel the day, the regatta was now only four days long. Racing with us were sailors from Europe, Australia, and a massive amount of Dutch, German, and Belgium sailors. The British also came as a National Team. The best of sailors at this event were going to Opti Worlds which was very impressive; there were 147 sailors.

The second day we went out and raced 3 races. The wind was very low and current strong. My scores were not perfect but OK for light air sailing: I got a 34th, 46th, and a 26th. I was very happy with my last race since the wind was really light. When you sail an Opti, being light and not tall is the optimal body shape, as I am coming to the end of Optis I am a somehow heavy and tall. This is sort of penalising in light air.

The third day of racing was very hard, as the current was around 5 knots and the wind around 15 knots. The hardest part was not being over the line on the start, as the current was pushing us over the line. For the first race, the current wasn't too strong: it was mostly all about keeping your boat flat and dry, as it was very windy. During the second race, half the fleet was disqualified due to the current. The last race, I got a very good first upwind putting me in 5th around the reach mark and due to an error downwind, I finished 15th. I was still very happy of my day as I got a 21st, 19th, and 13th. Thanks to this awesome day, I was qualified for Gold fleet which was an awesome moment.

The fourth day of racing, the wind was even lighter than the practice days with winds around 7 knots and strong current. I was now in Gold fleet which meant that the competition was twice as hard. So to sum up, the competition was harder and the wind was much lighter. This meant that the day was going to be hard. So the first race, I was doing fine until the fleet started going downwind and I lost a couple of boats. The second race, I made a mistake and lost a lot of boats at the finish line. The last race was just like the first one: I lost boats on the downwind. I was kind of sad that the wind wasn't heavier but I had to keep my focus for the last day of the regatta. My scores were OK but could've been better: I got a 51, 69, and 55 (out of 74).

The last day was very light with winds around 9 knots. Two races were planned but due to a postponement, we could only race once. The whole race I was in the top 40 and on the last leg, I made a mistake and finished 56th. After racing, my teammates and I got a chance to trade our Team USA gear for other teams gear. We had so much fun!

Overall this regatta has been a great experience! In just ten days, I met new friends, learned a lot on tactics, improved my boat speed, and sailed in new waters. I am very happy to finish 61st overall! Thank you Jerome, for supporting me throughout my Opti years: without you, I probably would've never came this far. Thank you to the Belvedere Cove Foundation and St. Francis  Sailing Foundation for your support, thank you to RYC, Ornaith and Andy for welcoming me to sailing in San Francisco, thank you Nico and Tommy for your great coaching at SFYC: I may be too big for Optis now, but I had a blast on this boat these past 5 years and this Belgium regatta representing USA was an amazing experience.

My teammates and I:

 The fleet launching:

Team USA:

Upwind sailing:

My coaches ( Peri right and Mitch left) and I:

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Heavy Weather Regatta 2017 @St Francis Yacht Club

Like the past three years, my last or before last week of school was also the week of the Harken #4. Just like the past years, this was a four day event. Unlike the past years, this Harken #4 had not much wind, very few waves, and around 5 knots current. The current was pushing with the wind which made it so that upwind you had to sail very close to shore to get current relief.

The first day we had three races. At the start of the first race, the wind was around 6 to 7 knots and the current around 4 knots: this meant that most of the upwind you would sail backwards more than forward. Most of the fleet crossed the starting line around 4 minutes late due to the current. My coach and I believe that I started around 5 minutes late. After the start, I went close to shore and sailed upwind catching up most of the fleet. Although starting last, I rounded the top mark in 4th I was already happy. On the last upwind leg, I managed to sail alone all the way to current relief were I passed the three boats ahead of me and won the race. My second race was pretty bad as I got 18th.

On the second day, the wind was lighter and the current stronger. The race committee tried for 30 minutes to get a race going and on the 6th try, my friend and I started the race and were first and second until the race committee postponed as the whole fleet except five boats could not cross the starting line. They then postponed us onshore and then we got two races in. I got a 15th and a 12th. I was kind of disappointed as this wasn't the result I wanted. I was determined to do better the following day.

On the third day, the wind was also light with different currents. On the first race I was in 5th and I messed up at the top mark and lost a couple of places to finish 8th. The second race was difficult as even though the right side of the course was favoured and I was on the left I managed to pull out a 7th. The last race was very hard tactic wise: I made a bad decision and finished 12th. Overall, I scored 6th and 2nd in red fleet (age group).

The current in this specific venue is very strong and has very weird directions. The current can reach around 6 knots pulling you out of the San Francisco Bay or into the SF Bay. The venue is parallel to shore and has very different depth at two parts of the race course. The closest side to shore has less depth than out to the middle of the bay. Sometimes the current can be going one way on shore and the other in the middle of the bay. This is why sailing in this venue is very complicated. Here is a graph to show how the current was during that exact week-end. Check out my video below to see how the current affected us.

Overall this was a great regatta even though the wind was not as high as I hoped it would be.

This is my brother Yann who finished almost every race:

This is the fleet with a Mod 70 behind:

This also shows how strong the current was:

My coach Nico and I:

This shows the current at the exact place we were sailing at:

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Diams 24 sailing with my Dad, Fred Bouju: 6th of May

On May 6th I had the chance to sail the Great Vallejo Race. I sailed this race on a Diam 24. This boat is a 24 feet trimaran, that is just one of the fastest boat I have ever sailed. It is the one design boat for the Tour de France à la voile. The boat accelerates very quickly and is very wet. The Diam 24 is a boat set up for three people to race and probably more to sail for pleasure. I was sailing the boat with Fred Bouju the owner and skipper, he is also the person that got my Mom and I to test his Open 5.70 just before buying ours in 2014. My Dad was on-board as well and sails quite often with Fred on the Diam. Fred is promoting the Diam24 in the Bay: I heard that another one is coming soon an hopefully there will be a formal class by the end of the year! Contact Fred at (510) 512-8366 if you are interested :-)

The conditions varied a lot: at first we had a good 15 knots which was very fun. Later on the wind died to around 3-4 knots, where we had a slower boat speed than the rest of the fleet. Towards the end of the race the wind picked up around 15 knots again which was again very fun.

While sailing this boat there are a couple of things that I loved doing. First every time we gybed with a good boat speed, we could feel a force pushing against you when you crossed the boat. This amazed me very much as I know the America's Cup sailors feel this too but of course with a stronger intensity. Second when we were coming back upwind I was able to steer the boat most of the way back which was very fun. The boat is very fast upwind: we reached around 15 knots of speed in 10-15 knots of wind.

Overall, I had a great time sailing from Richmond all the way to Vallejo, this was very exciting. I hope to be able to sail this boat again. Thank you Fred for inviting us to sail.

Here is a short video

Bays #1, 10th and 11th of June 2017 @ Richmond Yacht Club

On the week-end of the 10th and the 11th of June I competed in the Summer Bays first event at Richmond Yacht Club. The conditions went from 2 knots up to 15 knots. This made most sailors adjust their sails a lot. The current was very strong, so strong that to win a race you had to prioritize the current more than anything. As we were sailing in a place that is very shallow, the chop was pretty big, this was also an important factor.

During this event I learned some interesting tricks to sail faster. I learned how to move my body downwind to catch a surf easily. I am looking forward to using it next week-end, during the Heavy Weather Regatta at St Francis Yacht Club. I also tried to win the start every single race, I won the start three races out of eight. This was a hard goal but got me to push the line more. I even got recalled once.

At the end of the event, I was happy because I improved my boat speed in light air. This has always been my weakness. I was surprised that my best race during the regatta was the one with the less wind (I scored 2nd). I also improved my starting technique which will be helpful when I switch class as starting is key to a good race.

I enjoyed sailing at this event, even if I had some pretty bad races and finished 6th overall. This event has always been special to me, as Richmond Yacht Club is the place where I learned to sail Optis. This club is for sure one of the most welcoming clubs in the Bay. I hope to comeback next year in a different class.

The fleet sailing downwind:

The starting line:

 My brother Yann on the line:

 A couple seconds after go:

Proud with my new Team USA rash guard:

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Cabrillo Beach Harken #3, May 20th- 21st 2017

On the week-end of May 20th-21st, my brother and I raced at Harken #3 in Cabrillo Beach California. Cabrillo Beach Yacht Club's venue (CBYC), was pretty windy and since it is a very shallow venue, we had to sail in big chop. This can be very penalising in an Opti, due to the bow of the boat being square.

The first day, I was very consistent with scores 5, 2, 3, 2. I was very happy with my day since I was 2nd overall and rounded the top mark  about 20 seconds ahead of the third, during 2 out of 4 races, which is very good.

The second day, my hiking straps broke on the second race which caused me to lose my second place overall and become 3rd. Although having broken my hiking straps (which made me not able to sail at full speed upwind), I was still going faster than most people which made me very happy. Overall this was definitely my favorite Harken regattas.

A special congratulations to my brother Yann for finishing every race on the second day of racing even with winds going up to 23 knots!

This is the system I set up to continue racing after my hiking strap failure:

My ripped hiking straps:

 My award for being 2nd Red Fleeter (age group):

Nacra 15 sailing May 27th and 28th 2017 @ABYC

On the week-end of the 27th and 28th of May, I attended for the first time in my life a Nacra 15 regatta. I sailed with my friend Luke, who I met 2 years ago sailing Optis at SFYC.

On the first race, a part of the boat broke which caused us to retire. The part that broke was a simple bungee that was not strong enough. Speed is key to victory in all catamarans, and to achieve that, you need a team that has sailed for a long time together, which was not our case.

On the second day, our boat speed had improved and we were almost faster upwind than the competition. The first race, we had our spinnaker (front sail) that got caught in the front of the boat. After rounding the top mark, we tried to undo the knot but ended up flipping. Luckily, we still finished the race. The second race we were able to round the top mark second but ended up capsizing and losing our lead on third place. This capsize caused us to break the same bungee again. After fixing it we continued sailing. The following race, we did our best to keep up with the others, we were just as fast as them on the upwind but still a little slower downwind.

During this regatta, I learned how to improve my boat speed downwind. I also learned how to fly the windward hull upwind which I will use on my family's F16 Viper. I would like to thank Luke and Charles Froeb for taking care of me over this Memorial Day Weekend. A big thank you also to Erwan Griziaux (Charles' crew & a real great French F18 sailor) for all the tips on how to sail better and faster: this really helped Luke and I achieve a better boat speed.

I can not wait to sail with Luke again!

This is the trailer the Froeb use to bring the boats from San Francisco to LA and back!

 Luke and I after a stop at In-n-out: