Sunday, May 27, 2012

Thanks everyone!

Me and coach P

Team USA: Claire Dennis, Christy Frost, Paige Railey, Erika Reineke, Christine Neville

Thanks West Coast Sailing!

                    West Coast Sailing sells sailboats from Laser Performance, McLaughlin, PS2000, Bic Sport and Tasar.  We sell Laser sails, sailboat parts, accessories and upgrades from Gill, SEA, Stohlquist, Magic Marine, Seitech and many other of the best small sailboat brands.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Posting videos is a little slow. I am adding a few more.

Race 5

Race 7

Hauling out at the end of the day

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

More photos

Race 11 Start

Race 12

The End - Races 11 and 12

Sitting in the airport in Dulles waiting to get back on a broken down plane. What better time is there to write about the end of the laser worlds! After waiting for a very mild sea breeze to fill in for the last two races, I watched Erika Reineke win the pin in the gold fleet and head right towards what looked like better pressure.

Race 11
   With the pin still quite favored for our start, I thought I would do the same thing. I didn't have too much trouble winning the pin, and I had a beautiful start. I wasn't sure I could cross the fleet, so I waited until other boats tacked. Now the whole fleet was on port, and I was on the left. The wind was very light, but I thought I was doing okay, since I was getting lifted inside the fleet. Then it really died, and filled in from the right side. I watched as the whole fleet to the right of me went faster and faster. So, that was the most important part of the race, once the breeze filled in, it didn't change too much. I made a few small gains but there was only so much I could do. I remembered the day before and kept my head in the game though, didn't get discouraged.

Race 12
   After a poor start near the boat, I tacked out and found a small lane going right. I focused on speed and clear air, and rounded the windward mark in the top 15. Worked hard downwind and played the right again upwind to start the reach in 4th! I was psyched to be making gains in light air and sailed really fast on the reach. Apparently it was too fast, since I got yellow flagged - 2nd time in the regatta. I didn't realize that meant I had to drop out of the race immediately, and I did circles instead. So that meant I had to score a DNE (score DNF but 'do not exclude').

   In the end, my scores in the last three races of the regatta were very painfull, but I learned some good things. I was able to ask the judge who yellow flagged me about the motion, and learned that I have to be much more careful to steer the boat in conjunction with my body movement - I think it is especially easy to rock but go straight when reaching, so I have to work on that.

   One thing that I have to work on is race attitude. I don't like to be pushy on the water, and I particularly dislike the whiny, irritable tone of voice that many of the other women use to yell at each other. But, the take-no-prisoners attitude is important! For example, I let other boats force me to the left side of the course when I want to go right. I should be tacking to port and trying to get away with crossing if I feel that is the way that I want to go.

Overall, the Worlds was an incredible experience! I can't wait for more big regattas because I know I can do better and I really want to use the things I have learned. Thanks again to everyone to helped make it possible.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Races 9 and 10 - Heartbreak hotel

     Today was an emotional roller coaster. Sailed out to the course in less than 5 knots. Once everyone was out the race committee postponed and sent us back in. The mosh pit that happens when 135 lasers try to get their boats out of the water all at once with only 3 ramps is ridiculous. Every sailor is in their 'me first' attitude, boats bang into each other, people cut in front of each other, and waves from the coach boats are sloshing everyone around.
     They finally sent us back out after a mild sea breeze filled in.

Race 9 -
     I accelerated too late at the start and got rolled. Tacked out and went all the way right in to clear air. Some little shifts and better pressure in clear air allowed me to catch a lot of boats. I managed to stay to the side in clear air downwind, by the lee on starboard and moving pretty well with the waves. Upwind I stayed right again, in clear air, but tacking back to when I could. Same thing downwind to finish 9th. Pretty good after a horrible start.

Race 10 -
     My focus was to have a good start. I also had a pretty clear picture in my head that I wanted to start near the boat and go right. I figured I would start just far enough away from the boat to avoid a jam of boats, wait for the boats to the right of me to tack, and then I would tack too. I had my good start, I was where I wanted to be, but there were a few boats on my hip that wouldn't tack. I didn't really want to duck them, so I waited. We kept going and going, boats were ducking us, but then a few boats crossed us. I finally decided I was going to tack and duck those boats on my hip, but they tacked as I was going to duck them. Suddenly I was in a bad place in bad air and a discouraging feeling of doom set in. Probably should have tacked back to go left,  but I was so sure I had to go right. The bad just got worse and worse, the shifts weren't that big, and gains were hard to make. Got flagged by the judges for rocking downwind too and had to do circles. All in all a horrible race (49th).
     So, what can I learn from that?
First of all, it is painfully obvious to me looking at the scores how much a bad result like that counts, and how much better a mediocre result would have been. I was winning the silver fleet, and now I am 23 points behind the leader, 23 places at the back of the fleet are worth fighting for just as much as a few places at the front of the fleet. Its easy to be discouraged when I am so far back, and easy to be motivated when I am near the front. Next time, I have to remember how important it is to make those little gains even at the back of the fleet.
     Second, having a plan for the race is good, but I also need to give the plan weight so that if something is foiling the plan, I know whether to be open to changing that plan instead of forcing myself to follow it and risking a bad situation.
     Third, if I am on starboard and I want to tack but there are boats on my hip, my plan is to first yell to them to tack to see if I can get them to go. If they don't, then I have to know how important it is to me to go that way, and only tack if I think it is worth the risk that they might tack right on me.

I do have pictures to upload, but the internet connection is slow, so I'll get to it when I can. Expecting a good sea breeze for the last two races, so I am looking forward to them!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Races 7 and 8

Our light day turned out to be pretty windy, full hiking with medium chop for the first race, and it built for the second. As usual the shifts were big. There often seemed to be a lefty on the left side of the course, and a righty on the right side. In general I thought there was better pressure on the left near the top, but sometimes the right was good early on. One thing that is interesting here with the chop and all the coach boats, our last short windward leg to the finish is always like sailing in a washing machine, the waves are going every direction, and the breeze is often mixed up too.

Race 7 - I thought I was going to win this race for the whole first beat. Started mid line. I had a good line sight and everyone was hanging back from the line so I was punched out (black flag was up for the second time already - we have at least one general recall every race). I went left until I got to a breeze line and got knocked, tacked and played a few more shifts near the top, generally staying in the middle of the course. Overstood a little right a the windward mark, and let one boat inside me. In second now, I went a little too far off to the side downwind. I thought I was staying in clear air, but I lost some boats downwind. Not too much passing the rest of the race, I finished 5th.

Race 8 - Start was not great, had to tack out and duck some boats. Played shifts upwind, and tried to go fast, a lot of vang adjusting to stay powered up when needed, but get through waves. It's easy to tack too much here, and I am trying to make myself be more frugal with the tacking. Rounded top 15 ish, and lost a bunch of boats downwind when I went too far to the side again. I need to do a better job of staying with the fleet downwind. I hate being too close to other boats. Upwind I stayed on the left side and made some big gains, better pressure mostly. Fast reach, and somehow downwind, I caught boats. I think I was in better pressure, but I managed to find a groove sailing by the lee on starboard and turning up to catch waves. That was my first downwind leg where I made gains! Caught a couple more boats in the washing machine to the finish, I have to remember to go fast and not tack much on that leg. Finished 6th. Pretty happy.

Pictures to come later. Light wind and rain in the forecast.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Races 5 and 6

Best results today, not quite good enough to make the gold fleet though.

Todays races are blending into a blur of hiking, being psyched with my position, and dissapointed with some mistakes.

Race 5 was good overall, I managed to put together a good race without any major blunders, although still losing boats downwind.

Race 6 - The start was super pin favored after two generals and a black flag. I was in the pile of boats close to the pin, but up a little. It was so hard to hold space, and my start was not that great. I sailed to the left in the pack, thought we looked okay, but lost to the boats coming in from the right at the top. Still in an okay position, gybed to port with the rest of the fleet for the downwind, and flipped about halfway down the run. Sooo mad. I got to the gate and forgot we had another lap to go. I banged the right corner thinking it was a persistent shift, which was a good call, but I went too far and overstood by a mile. Caught a bunch of boats, but was mad at myself for wasting so much. Sailed fast on the reaches, and only lost one boat downwind. 

Now the goal is to win the silver fleet.

Sailing out

 Pre start

Getting a line sight

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Races 3 and 4 update

Races 3 and 4

Kind of stormy 15 -20 today.

Race 1:

    Once again, a great 1st beat following a great start. I had clear air the whole leg, and was middle left with a good view of the other leaders way left and right. Near the top I tacked to starboard on a big header even though no one else did and there were more boats on the right. Might have been a bad decision, but I never got to find out, my tack back was bad and I had to back down. Here's what happened, my vang was on so tight, that the mainsheet between the end of the boom block, and the boom strap caught the end of my tiller (not extension). This has only happened to me twice before but it totally throws you off guard. The boom has to be low enough to snag the tiller. So, I think I lost maybe 10 boats. I rounded with Paige in about 20th I think.
     The rest of the race I tried to stay in clear air downwind and get in a groove, and upwind play the shifts and keep a lane.  Often downwind, I would round with a pack of boats, and by the leward mark, they would be just in front of me. I think my downwind technique has improved, but more work is needed!

Race 2:
     I had a decent start, but not awesome. Struggled to make good decisions upwind in this race, the fleet spread really wide. It seemed generally like it was good to go left early, then work over to the right at the top of the beat. It was really hard to know when to tack on a shift, or when to go farther to a side to get to a new wind. Same story downwind.

Goal for Races 5 and 6:

Get spectacular starts, not just good. That doesn't mean high risk at the pin or the boat, just punched out and full speed.

Link to the regatta website:

Results are here:

We are split into two fleets, blue and yellow. They change every day. The scores are combined, so there are two of every result for each race. U21 stands for under 21, they are scored separately in addition to the overall scores. After race 6 we will be divided into Gold and Silver fleets

A start

Standing in line to launch

Sailing in at the end of the day

Races 1 and 2 - Shifty

     Well, I'm dissapointed with my results from the 1st 2 races, but I did a few good things and I know I can improve.

1st Race:

     I had a good start and good 1st beat. Just tried to stay right ish while playing shifts, and sailing towards the puffs. My speed was good, and I was top ten approaching the windward mark on the starboard layline. I thought I was a little overstood, but as we got towards the mark, I realized too late that I might not make it. I ended up hitting the mark and not even making it around, backing down, ducking boats, rounding, doing circles.... very sad and stupid. Losing 30 boats is not good.
     It's weird how my decision making can change in a big fleet. I never have this problem in a small fleet.

     Something for me to keep an eye out for:  If you think you are on layline and people are crossing or ducking you to get farther out, then tack in a good spot when you can to get a little farther out. DONT DIG YOURSELF INTO A HOLE AND HOPE!!!!

2nd Race:

     I wanted to start close to the boat, but when I went looking for my spot at just over a minute to go, I was locked out. Gybed around to get back to a place, and could only start second row.  Spent the whole race in bad air and mixed up waves. It is so shifty here, it is still hard to know whether to tack on every shift, or keep going to a side. The trend was to the right all day, with puffs coming off the shore, but there were so many shifts that were big angle changes, but didn't last very long. I tacked a lot, but maybe it would have been better to go hard right on the first and second beats to get to clearer air.

Stuff to do better:
     Starts - Envision what the fleet will look like during the start and just after. If boat favored, and the right side of the course is favored, there is a good chance of a pile up at the boat. That means I have to get to the line around 2 min to go instead of 1.

     Downwind - be more concerned about clear air, get clear early, and then work down towards the mark. Don't sail in bad air just to go straight, and only sail as far as I have to to get clear air.

Goal for races 3 and 4:
     Two good starts. No stupid mistakes. Heads up on what the breeze is doing.

Conditions for the next couple days are in the teens gusting to 25. It's still going to be gusty and shifty.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Here we go

     Tomorrow starts the first day of racing. So far we have had two windy practice days, one very light, and a practice race this afternoon. The conditions here are very shifty and hard to predict. The coaches who were here for the men's worlds have said that it was a 'heads up' regatta.
     Yesterday in the light air there were some informal races run by coaches. I was having trouble deciding when to tack on shifts, and when to sail through them to get to new breeze filling in from a side. I'm still not sure of the answer to this, but I know that during the racing it will be very important to see ahead.
     My focus for tomorrow will be a good start, and keeping my head out of the boat. Forecast is calling for 7-12.

Friday, May 11, 2012


First I want to say Thank You!!!! to everyone who donated to my campaign and made it possible for me to be here at this regatta.

It was hard to stay awake all day after arriving in Germany at 7:00am this morning. I got my charter boat and sailed in 10-20 kts out of the south. The water is cold, upper 40's f, but the air was warm. The venue is a protected bay, so the waves were short and choppy, very similar to sailing on Lake Champlain.

Boltenhagen, May 11, 2012 Practice

A very picturesque venue:


Monday, April 30, 2012

West Coast Sailing

Thanks to Chris and the crew at West Coast Sailing for making me part of their team! They really are a great resource. They do Laser, skiff, and dinghy equipment, and they know their stuff. Check them out at Free shipping!

West Coast Sailing sells sailboats from Laser Performance, McLaughlin, PS2000, Bic Sport and Tasar.  We sell Laser sails, sailboat parts, accessories and upgrades from Gill, SEA, Stohlquist, Magic Marine, Seitech and many other of the best small sailboat brands.

Check your equipment.

Lesson learned. I was late to practice on Saturday thanks to a flat tire on my trailer. No excuses for that one! I knew that tire was on it's last legs. I always try to get all the life out of my rigging too, but I realise it's not worth it when something breaks and it takes you out of a race, or even good practice time. I replaced all my tired rigging yesterday.

I use robline for all my controls, it definitely works the best, but the cover wears out fast and breaks quickly once there is visible wear, so I have learned not to push my luck.

If your lines look this worn out, replace them before they break. 


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thursday Night Racing

Good close racing tonight at Treasure Island. Only 5 boats, but a very tight fleet. Strong breeze and shifty.  Gotta love the view on the way home too:

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Thank You Ronnie

You can read Ronnie Simpson's article "full dance card" on Sailing Anarchy here.

full dance card

     It’s Thursday night in San Francisco and the sun is setting on another breeze-on night of dinghy sailing. Christine Neville has just won another Laser regatta, sailing in a fleet consisting of an America’s Cup veteran, an Olympian and past fleet champions. Back to the dock first, she washes off her Laser and carts it off to the parking lot. Coming to a stop, she positions the shiny new boat next to her $1,600 Saab. With several dents and a missing rearview mirror, the thing is a piece. Her Laser on the other hand is nearly new and constantly kept in perfect racing condition being 3 times as valuable as her car.

     As Christine begins to strip her wetsuit, you can’t help but be impressed by her physique. At 5’11” inches tall and weighing 155 pounds, she’s a formidable woman, oftentimes winning in big breeze over an all-male fleet. Lean and muscular, she’s a natural athlete who is just entering her prime. Living and breathing for the sport, Christine is fuelled by a constant passion that has kept her learning curve steep. Subscribing to the “broke sailor with a dream” lifestyle that is so prevalent here, Christine works full time at a local sail loft to support her racing addiction. She’ll never make any real money there but it facilitates her racing and training regimen. “I sail 4-5 days a week, including racing Thursday and on the weekends”, she proudly states.

     She’s kept her dance card full with major events this winter including January’s prestigious Miami OCR regatta. Christine pulled off a solid performance and was the 5th best American. This coming after a strong 2011, where she was US Sailing’s Singlehanded Female Champion, while also racking up two district championships in the process. And now Christine has qualified for the Laser radial worlds in Boltenhagen, Germany. The event is next month and Christine can not yet afford to go. “137 of the world’s best radial sailors will be there and they’re all in top form as the Olympics are coming up”, said Christine during our interview.“I learned a lot sailing in such a big, competitive fleet at the OCR regatta. I had good starts and upwind speed. I even rounded a top mark in 1st in one race. But my downwind speed and tactics were off. Through it all, I learned a lot by watching the top ladies scoot downwind and now I’ve made some adjustments to my style. I gained a lot of confidence and I can’t wait to continue the learning curve at the Worlds.”

     Christine needs your support to realize her dream of racing in next month’s Worlds. Her current goal is to raise $2,000 to be able to afford to compete. She has recently set up a blog andfundraising page.

- Ronnie Simpson.    04/26/12

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sage Advice

I've been told some great words of wisdom recently while preparing for the worlds. This comes from very experienced sailors:
"Fight your own laziness. It's easy to sit around and do nothing in between races. Don't waste time that you can use collecting information. Do splits upwind before each start with someone (e.g. for two minutes). Try to do it two or three times for each race. When you cross, get together and discuss why. You can also do this with each of you starting at the opposite ends of the line to find out which end is favored and by how much." 
- (Coach) Peter Shope

"Sail hard till the last minute. Sail smart. Know where you stand going into the last race." 
- Chris Boome 

"If you look to windward and the boats on the same tack as you are lifted, tack." 
- Jon Andron

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Classic San Francisco

    Well, Saturday and Sunday were both supposed to be light, but windy was what we got! Two of the most beautiful city front days, one sunny, one foggy. Great upwind workout, and really working on finding a rhythm downwind.

Notes on upwind sailing:
(this is really to help me remember to do this stuff, but I hope you can use it.)

  • Foot for speed, but use it to gain height - always work up when you can.
  • Do the Luke move / fish wiggle / torking / knock the bow down for speed thing.
  • Keep your cockpit dry.
  • Look upwind and anticipate the puffs - make your adjustments early!
  • Pay attention to the big picture, keep your head out of the boat.
  • If you are fast, don't sail away from the fleet, be conservative tactically.
  • Get your hiking strap set just right before the start.
  • Weight out, shoulders out, don't be lazy hike harder (when it's windy).

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