July 19, 2018: PENSACOLA, FL - The run of USODA National Championships continued at a feverish pace on the waters of Pensacola Bay Thursday with the 2018 Optimist Girls National Championship falling fresh on the heels of yesterday’s spectacular finish for the ‘open’ National Championship.
Samara Walshe of New York won Today’s Girls National Championship leading all sailors with 9 points (2,2,5). Sara Schumann of Ft Lauderdale was second with 14 points (1,11,2) and Emory Friend of New Orleans grabbed 3rdwith 21 points (4,4,13). Results are provisional. Final results are posted at www.usoda.org.
"Samara Walsh (19971) from New York won Today’s Girls National Championship leading all sailors with 9 points (2,2,5). Sara Schumann (21758) of Ft Lauderdale was second with 14 points (1,11,2)" - photo credit © Talbot Wilson 2018
Samara talked about racing one race in the northerly breeze and how the seas breeze filled in from the south for two races. She was in the top ten in all three races. “My coaches told me the game plan; but if something changed or shifted, I would adjust. I’m responsible for the tactics. I always want to come into the mark roundings on starboard tack with the advantage and come in fast. The second race was my favorite. Just sticking to the game plan.”
"I feel good. I like these regattas because they are very well run."
Sailing was complicated today. Sixty-seven girls set off at 10am following the signal vessel Maxine, looking for wind in the southernmost part of Pensacola Bay. The committee got off one race in there by shortening the course to finish at the downwind gate. After a wait till 2pm, the committee set a course into the sea breeze at 210 degrees and fired off race two. But there was a general recall.
In the next try to start there was a black flag and another general recall. Some 20 girls were dismissed from that race. The start area was set in some of the deepest part of the bay so the current was strong, flowing south out into the Gulf of Mexico. ‘Maxine’ was setting parallel to the starting line.
Race three also started under a black flag and many girls were over early. The committee signaled a general recall and it appeared another twenty-something group of girls would sit out that race. However, one of the coaches pointed out that the pin boat had dragged its anchor and that was the cause of the early starter’s infraction. Facing a request for redress, the RC abandoned that race and moved on to a new Race Four with a full 67-girl fleet.
Girls National Championship Principal Race Officer and PYC’s fleet Captain Hal Smith said, “Abandoning that race in which so many girls would have been disqualified was the equitable thing to do. The pin dragged and racing wasn’t going to be fair.”
Race Committee Chairman Tom Pace, Jr. noted, "The girls were ferocious today. What I saw on the water as we progressed though the races in these conditions is that the girls got actually more aggressive, more crisp and they absolutely became better sailors today."
There is a long history of women and girls sailing on the Gulf Coast with the first all female regatta held by the Southern Yacht Club of New Orleans in 1904 and spreading to Pensacola Yacht Club in 1928. In 1937, the Gulf Yachting Association (GYA) held its annual Sir Thomas Lipton Cup Championship on the waters of Mobile Bay in Alabama and the Houston Yacht Club shocked the GYA by announcing that a young woman, Fairfax Moody, had not only earned the right to represent their club, but that she had earned the right to skipper their Lipton Team - unheard of in that day and age.
After multiple protests were filed, Moody was eventually allowed to sail in the Fish OD Class and her team finished sixth out of 11 boats, having beaten a number of the protesting club teams. A newspaper reporter quoted Fairfax Moody as stating that she “only came to sail.”
In 1938, a year after the Fairfax Moody “incident” and with its obvious influence, the Gulf Yachting Association took notice of a small, but growing invitational all-women’s regatta in Pass Christian, MS. Created by Commodore Bernard L. Knost who was a major proponent of women’s racing, the regatta which still bears his name morphed into an all women’s GYA inter-club championship which is held annually and is modeled after the Lipton Cup. The girls sailing hard today have added to this legacy of female sailing on the Gulf Coast and they will continue to do so wherever the sport takes them in the future.
n the National Championship Race sailed yesterday, Stephan Baker of Miami led all sailors with 9 points (1,(4),2,1,3,1,1). Maithe Ebdrup of Denmark was second with 12 points (3,3,1,2,1,2,87/BFD) and Cort Snyder grabbed 3rdwith 18 points (4,(10/SCP),3,4,1,2,4). Top girl was Laura Hamilton with 27 points (2,15,1,5,2,2,(17)). Full results are posted at www.usoda.org.
The 2018 Optimist National Championship is also a 2019 USODA Team Trials Qualifying event. The top 50% of Championship Fleet's team trial eligible competitors based on the final results and using the total number of boats registered in both the Championship and Green Fleets, may receive invitations to compete in the 2019 USODA Optimist Team Trials.
Racing continues Friday with the 24-team 2018 Optimist Team Race National Championship running through Sunday.