By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
With the aim of qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, 49er sailors Alec Anderson and Chris Brockbank got a moral boosting victory on Sunday. A week after placing outside the top 10 in the Silver Fleet during the recent Miami Olympic Classes Regatta, they copped the North American Championships with a top 10 overall finish in Clearwater.
After a slow start, they climbed into 10th place on the strength of a 7th 2nd and 16th place finish on the final day.
Anderson said the first day was cancelled because the winds were too strong and the waves were too big. They also faced tough conditions on the second day and struggled a lot.
“But we had a decent race at the end of the day so our confidence wasn’t completely crushed,” he explained. “And then, conditions the last two days were pretty light and that’s the condition we prefer at this point. We put enough good races in to get into the top 10 and with that, we coincidentally were the top North American boat.”
Compared to the Miami Olympic Classes Regatta, Anderson said there was a slightly smaller crowd but this regatta still had top level competition. The other nine boats that finished ahead of them were from Europe and included; Spanish, French, Irish, and German sailors. He stated that it was good to mix it up with a hand full of the top teams from across the waters in a smaller crowd and less pressure to perform. That made things a lot easier.
“After we struggled the first day and with winds, we realized the importance of getting bigger and stronger to be competitive in the boat and we still have to put on weight and muscle,” he pointed out. “In the light air, we learn that we have good speed, can get good starts and if we execute and sail smart, we can do well in the light air or more moderate conditions.”
With the USA, Canada and the British Virgin Islands the only North American Countries sailing in the 49er Class, Anderson said the top American boat was tied with them on points—but finished behind them in the standings. Another American boat followed then the first set of Canadians.
“It was definitely good to be in front of the North Americans—even if it’s for just a regatta here and there, for our confidence and for the qualification going forward,” Anderson noted. “Our third and final chance to qualify (for Rio 2016) will be in North America so it feels good to beat those guys.”