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Sailing on the Road

Summertime for dinghy racers is the peak in the sailing-year calendar. It brings out the big events—the worlds, continental championships and given the right year, the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games, Pan Am Games and the Olympics.

BVI sailor Alec Anderson, coming off a successful college sailing year, would pick and choose his events just right, to time 45 consecutive days sailing on the road. Timing of events often foresees how the summer will run, while events are staggered to allow a dinghy racer to use smaller events early on in the summer to prepare and peak at the big ones.

Chris and Alec enjoy some down time on their trip. All photos by Chris Watters.

Kicking off with Laser Gulf Coast Champs and then Laser Radial North Americans, both in Texas, and throw in a quick stop in Halifax, Nova Scotia for training, and you have Alec’s first half of the 45 days. These act as preparation events for the Laser Radial Worlds in Largs, Scotland, two ISAF Grade 3 match racing events in Chicago, and this year, marking the last year before the Olympics, sailors from the Central Americans and Caribbean got a chance to race against each other in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico.

Using the first two events as preparation for the big ones, Alec showed he was ready by placing first in both. Being crowned the Laser Radial Gulf Coast champion, then seven days later the Laser Radial North American champion would leave Alec confident and fast going into the second half of his summer. With a quick stop in Halifax, Nova Scotia, home of some of the fastest Laser sailors in the world, Alec got three days of top-notch training just to make sure everything was up to speed.

Arriving at the Worlds, Alec teamed up with three sailors from the USA and in arrived in not only the oldest camper van there, but by far the coolest (see photo).Worlds proved to be tricky not only for the competitors but also for the race management with only six of the planned twelve races being able to be sailed over the six days. Alec started the event with a “Black Flag” which scores as a last plus one point for being over the starting line early. This didn’t keep him from boasting some top results and capping it off with a first in race six to leave him tenth overall at the Laser Radial Worlds.

Twenty five days down, twenty to go. Off to Chicago to link up with BVI sailors Colin Rathbun and Chris Brockbank. Alec and I capped off the remaining two sailors needed for the Tom 28’s, to compete in two International Sailing Federation Grade 3 match race events. With Colin at the helm, Alec on mainsheet and tactics, yours truly trimming and Brockbank on the pointy end, we finished with an even record of wins to losses, and had a near second, overall slip to a fifth, in the very last race. Great action and by far the best-run event of the summer.


The VW camper van the boys called home.

So that brought us to day 31. By now the novelty of sailing on the road had worn off. I no longer had any clean clothes, so Alec and I found ourselves washing clothes in the sink and hanging them out to dry. I have perfected, and I mean perfected Tiger Woods ‘08 for Nintendo DS which infuriates Alec who spends more time in the sand than David Hasselhoff. But we do have it in us for one last event, the CAC games. Did I mention they give medals? Gold, Silver and Bronze. Amongst us in our villas are 6’6 female beach volleyball players from Mexico, archers who actually have arrow holders with arrows on their backs, judo players waking us up with "hi-yahs," and the handball players using our picnic tables and villa steps to run training exercises which often end in loud Spanish cheers. What they were saying, no idea, but we got excited to race, and being surrounded by athletes, all at the peak of their fitness and strength, got us excited.

Again tricky conditions left the race officers with only seven races out of the schedueled twelve over the five days. This marking Alec’s first big Laser full-rig regatta, a very respectable sixth overall out of the 25 sailors leaves him with a taste for next year’s Pan Am games, and a desire to hang more gold around his neck than Ludacris. That was day 45. Then one brief night back in the BVI for the Jolly Roger's closing party and Festival Village, and I was shipped back to Halifax. Until regatta season, BVI.


Laser Radial Gulf Coast Champs: 1st out of 67 racers
Laser North Americans: 1st out of 94 racers
Chicago Match Racing record: 11-13
Laser Radial Mens Worlds: 10th out of 98 racers
Laser Central America and Caribbean Games: 6th out of 25 racers


Total flights between myself and Alec:  23
Total countries visited: 5
Nights in a camper van: 12
Days on the water: 34 out of 45
Number of first place finishes in a race:  16 (including the match racing)
Hours spent playing Tiger Woods Golf: 123  

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