2016 Laser north americans
by Matthew Stranaghan
This year I went down to the Laser North Americans at Cascade Locks, Oregon in the USA with my coach and a fellow teammate. We had a couple of excellent training days before the regatta with a consistent 20+ knots of breeze for both days. It was excellent conditions to practice sheeting and wave techniques, which was crucial to doing well on the long downwinds that we would sail each race.
Possible disaster was avoided the night before racing when me and my coach were trying to straighten my upper mast section. It snapped as it was old and weak. If we had not snapped it, it may have snapped and ripped my sail on day 1 as it was around 30 knots. That would not have been a great start to the regatta.
Day one proved a challenge as I was struggling on my downwinds and had tactical troubles as the Gorge was proving a tough, but very fun venue. I had solid races despite having some issues and was mid fleet almost every race, which left me in a good spot mentally and results wise. On day two I was set to go out and have some great races as it was the last day of qualifying. I had another solid day of sailing and was proving to be faster on the downwind legs than the previous day, but I fell just short of qualifying for gold fleet.
For the final two days of racing I was able to really bring it together and have all my races but two be top 20. I had really pieced together my starts in the finals, which was a really good thing for me mentally, as that was one of my goals. My best race was where I got off the start line and was battling it out for the lead and reached the windward mark in second, but the wind gods were against me, as I chose the wrong downwind path, and rounded the mark in 23rd. I had a good upwind and downwind and ended up finishing 18th.
Overall I had a great regatta and learned much from sailing with some of the best in North America. It has greatly helped me on the BC Circuit, as in my latest regatta in Whistler, I had great starts and got my first two bullets (first place)! I’m really looking forward to next year’s Laser North Americans, which will be hosted by the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club in my hometown of Vancouver. Until then I am battling it out on the BC circuit and currently sit fourth in the Laser Radial fleet this year.
Link to video