Olivia’s Legacy shines in Team Racing Invitational
Published on August 26th, 2014
The Severn Sailing Association, in cooperation with Annapolis Yacht Club and the US Naval Academy, hosted the second annual Olivia’s Team Racing Invitational on August 23-24, 2014 in Collegiate 420s. The regatta was created in the memory of Olivia Constants, a sailor who tragically lost her life in a sailing accident at age 14. Her love of life, friends, fun and sailing inspired the Olivia Constants Foundation to create one of the most unique team racing regattas in the sport of sailing. There were no structured teams. Rather, each skipper/crew team was randomly placed on a different team for every single race. Fifty-six teams participated in more than 140 races over two days. Competitors ranged from expert team racers to first-time sailors. Ages ranged from 11 to 73.
The evening before the regatta, Naval Academy intercollegiate sailing coach Ian Burman led a chalk talk discussion on the basic tenets of team racing. It was great info for those who are still gaining needed experience, and a great refresher for those who already had some. The learning process continued throughout the event, with each competitor taking something away from mistakes and gains made in every race. There was plenty of opportunity for situational discussions immediately after racing while waiting for the next rotation.
Saturday’s team racing used a 2X2 format, where two boats raced against two other boats. Whichever team finished last lost the race. Winds were light and shifty, and it rained for most of the day. But a little rain didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits! On land, competitors played games, listened to music, ate great food and generally had a fantastic time making new friends. On the water, more than 70 races were completed thanks to the work of a fantastic race committee, great support boats and a few very vocal folks driving the rotation. Racing was followed by entertainment from two great local bands, more good food and a few adult beverages, where appropriate.
Sunday racing transitioned to the more traditional 3X3 racing format. Burman also served as the regatta’s principal race officer, and he did a masterful job of reorganizing the 54 teams into random but fair three-boat teams. By taking boats from the top, middle and bottom tiers to create teams, racing was amazingly balanced and exciting. The weather was perfect and the wind was cooperative for a majority of the races. Shifty conditions kept the committee and competitors on their toes. The 3X3 races concluded in the early afternoon, and the 54 teams were again reorganized onto new teams, this time stack ranked based on winning percentage. The top six boats sailed a single championship race to establish the winning team, the second 6 boats raced for third, and so on until everyone competed a final race.
It is clear that everyone loved the format of this regatta, 36 club-supplied boats, no pre-set teams, lots of races and plenty of time to hang out with friends old and new. In the spirit of Olivia, the regatta focused on fun. It is widely accepted that increasing the fun factor is needed in order to grow the sport. This regatta should be looked at as the “fun template.” In my 35 years of sailboat racing, I have never seen such a variety of age, experience and skill all competing together as one. The craziest thing about it was how well it worked. If having fun is an important to you and your sailing, join us next year for the third annual regatta. The Olivia Constants Foundation, SSA, AYC and US Naval Academy are already working on next year’s regatta and hope you all will join us for some pure, fun sailing.
Report by Brett Davis