Christmas, a Hurricane, and Tigers (Oh My!)

Before the Pan Am Games regatta starts, the author is racking up new experiences, including a deluge of free swag, and some big cats in cages.

I thought our rendezvous in Houston for "athlete processing" might turn into an extended stay, given Hurricane Jova's predicted path and force. By the way, "processing" is athlete speak for Christmas in October. We received an absurd amount of gear from Nike and some additional cool stuff from Atlantis. We assumed that we would spend Wednesday in the airport waiting for the inevitable flight cancellation, but as it turned out, Jova faded and we actually headed down to Puerto Vallarta as planned. This is why I don't invest a lot of time watching the Weather Channel.

In just our first day here, I experienced several firsts:

• Whenever we get on a bus, we have a police escort driving in front of us, and they look like a pretty serious SWAT team.

• At our briefing with the USOC, a representative of the U.S. State Department advised us about going out on the town and what to do in case of an emergency.

• Saw a couple tigers at the yacht club – it’s actually a big resort with a lot of different things going on

• Watched Paige Railey react violently to spicy Mexican food at dinner

We’re at a nice hotel right on the water along with a variety of other national teams competing in several sports. So far, I’ve managed to avoid getting stepped on by the beach volleyball players.

On Thursday, I learned that Rossi Milev’s team from Canada is not competing. In speaking with the Canadian Lightning team, I learned that Canada does not provide any funding for the non-Olympic classes. We’re very fortunate to have the support we do from the USOC and US SAILING. To borrow a phrase from the Wall Street Protesters–we are the 99%.

Unfortunately, we weren't able to attend the Opening Ceremonies in Guadalajara. It would've been a logistical nightmare, given the five-hour bus ride each way, and we would've been hard pressed to get our boat through measurement in time if there were any issues. As it turned out, measurement took a full 2 days. There was a small team measuring the 24s, working their tails off in nearly 100-degree heat in a parking lot far removed from cold beverages.

Saturday was our first day of sailing. Our plan was to practice with the Brazilian team, winners of the 2007 Pan Am Games. The Brazilians tried to tune with the Chilean team on Friday, but were waved off. Interesting strategy by Chile–I’m not sure how much you can learn by sailing alone. One of the U.S. coaches, Leandro Spina, prioritized us for the day, meaning he came out in the coach boat taking pictures.

There was a practice race on Sunday, and the regatta starts today. I’ll send another update after we get some racing in. Thanks for following along.

Pan Am Games sailing site, with results and scratch sheets (be patient, it's not the most user friendly site, especially if your Spanish is rusty or non-existant)