Santa Barbara Championship Regatta
by Lauren Liu
I may not be new at sailing, but I am new to the UC San Diego Sailing team. Our Santa Barbara championship regatta is the first time that I traveled with the team to race. We spent some time preparing earlier in the week by loading up a trailer with 3 of the boats we were planning to bring with us. On the day we left, several of us went down to Mission Bay early to load the other 3 boats into a trailer. It was a lot of work to prepare, but we had so many people helping that it was pretty easy to get the job done quickly. After that, we settled into our cars for the long drive to Santa Barbara. Normally a 4 hour drive, it took us about from 11am to 6pm to arrive at the Ocean Mesa campsite, including a break in Irvine for food and gas. Most of us opted to sleep some of the drive and were well rested when we got to the campsite. I absolutely love camping, so I was really looking forward to this portion of the trip. We quickly set up some tents mostly with the help of flashlights, and one of the earlier groups came back from the grocery store with food to make kebabs and corn on the cob over the fire. We cooked the food in various ways with varying degrees of success, but I had a blast getting to know my teammates better.
When we arrived at Santa Barbara Yacht Club on Saturday morning, it was a bit chilly, but very sunny and quickly warmed up. We first rigged five boats and got them ready to launch. The first rotations of skippers and crews sailed the boats over to the course areas while the rest of us brought our bags and canopy over to the viewing point. Unfortunately the wind was so light that day that none of the races could be completed. The good news: UC San Diego tied for first on Saturday. The bad news: I think we were tied with 15 other teams! Almost everyone brought their boats to the beach line next to the viewing area and we waited awhile to see if the wind would pick up. It never really did, so after some fun playing games, munching on food, and playing on the beach, we packed up everything and returned to our campsites for the night.
The forecast for Sunday was a much different story. In the morning, we woke up a little earlier so we could clean up the campsite and load up the cars. It was a good thing too, because a storm rolled in over the mountains later in the morning, bringing wind and rain, and then just rain, and then lots of wind after a brief reprieve for the rest of the afternoon. Almost everyone was soaked and chilled, and the conditions in the morning weren’t kind enough to allow the JV out to race. After the storm let up a bit, the JV was able to get quite a few races in. I’m experienced in sailing and being out on the water in difficult conditions, but I’m still very new (and very bad at) racing, so I was very excited to test myself in the heavier winds. The waters were rough and the winds were gusting, giving me every bit of the challenge I was hoping for. Of the two races I skippered, I capsized going downwind twice and didn’t finish either race. Throughout, I had so much fun learning the limits of my ability as a skipper and bonding with the team. I’m definitely looking forward to spending more time with the team and improving my skills over the rest of the year!