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West Marine US Open Sailing Series Fort Lauderdale

Veteran Laser campaigners, coaches and developing young sailors assemble in Fort Lauderdale to train and groom the United States’ next generation of singlehanded Olympic hopefuls.

January 19, 2021
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It was a banner, yet challenging, day of sailing on the water for the 135 sailors competing at the 2021 West Marine US Open Sailing Series inaugural event, hosted by the Lauderdale Yacht Club. The fourth and final day of the regatta took place on Monday as sailors in three Laser classes pushed through the shifty conditions to close out on a strong note.

Chapman Petersen (Fontana, Wis.) had an 8-point lead entering today and won by 11 points after three more races in the 70-boat Laser Radial fleet. He won two of the three races on Monday to close out the regatta. Petersen won four of seven races overall. Robby Meek (Annapolis, Md.) placed second and Sarah Douglas (CAN) finished third and was the top performing female. She edged Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) who finished the regatta in fourth overall and Hallie Schiffman (Sarasota, Fla.) was fifth.

“This is the biggest event of the winter and I’m super excited to be here,” said Chapman. “I’ve been looking forward for to this event for nine months.”

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Chapman has been making incremental improvements on his technique and that work has paid off. “One way I stay consistent is getting good transitions between puffs and lulls and having good tacks and good starts. If on an average you are doing the little things better, than on average you are going to continue to get better. My next goal is to win a Youth World Championship in the Laser Radial and then move to Full Fig.”

Canadian sailor Sarah Douglas has been training in South Florida with U.S. sailors for the past several months leading up to the start of the series. “We keep pushing each other on the water,” said Douglas. “We worked on our speed and technique, and put together good hiking blocks in Clearwater and Fort Lauderdale.” Douglas is attempting to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Games.

Three-time Olympian Juan Maegli (GUA) took first place overall honors in the 42-boat Laser Full Rig competition. He won by 7 points over Francisco Rigonat (ARG). Charlie Buckingham (USA) placed third and was the top U.S. sailor in the event.

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Maegli had an early lead in the regatta after winning three of the first four races. He placed third and fifth today and did not need to compete in the final race of the regatta to win.

Nicholas Reeser (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) was the top performing junior sailor in the Full Rig fleet. Reeser was seventh overall.

“I have just been trying my best to put my boat in position, no matter where the wind was coming from and that led to some pretty good decisions on the water,” said Maegli. “I have been focusing on my fitness more recently and have not spent much time on the water. I will spend the next couple months here in Florida and put a lot of hours on the water. We have a really good fleet here with Charlie (Buckingham) my training partner, some good young Americans, Canadians, and the Latin Americans, so it’s a nice field.”

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Umi Noritake (Miami Beach, Fla.) won a closely contested 23-boat Laser 4.7 fleet by four points over Conor Kellett (Miami Beach, Fla.) and 7 points over Jacob Zils (Wayzata, Minn.). Only 1 point separated these three sailors entering Monday, with Zils holding on to a 1-point lead. Noritake placed fourth and fifth today and was able to move into first place to win the Laser 4.7 fleet.

“It was really hard racing this week and it was super shifty,” added Zils. “Consistency was the name of the game and I was just trying to stay in the top three each race.”

Noritake was ecstatic with the win and his performance this week. “It was a tough weekend. The wind was all over the place. Whoever was the most consistent with their starts and races was on top and that happened to be me.”

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He also reflected on his experience being out on the water with Olympians. “It was a change from regular practice. We’ve practiced with some of them before and it can be a little nerve racking at the starting line being a 14-year-old against Olympians.”

“The best thing I had going for me the entire regatta was my boathandling and wanting it more than anyone else,” added Noritake.

Anna Vasilieva (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) was the top female performer in the 4.7 fleet, and she finished fourth overall.

The West Marine US Open Series continues in Miami this weekend with Nacra 17, 49er, 49er FX, 470 Mixed, iQFoil, Open Windsurf Foil classes.

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