Ida Lewis Experience

This July, Anisha Arcot and Hanna Brush had the opportunity to represent Willamette Sailing Club at the U.S. Junior Women’s Doublehanded Championship hosted by Annapolis Yacht Club in Annapolis, Maryland. Thirty-five teams traveled from around the U.S. to compete for the championship title. Here are some comments from both Anisha and Hanna regarding their experience from the event.

What is the Ida Lewis, for those of us who are not familiar with these US Sailing Championships?
Anisha – Ida Lewis is the Junior Women’s Double-handed National Championship. It starts off with a two day clinic and culminates with three days of racing.
Hanna – This event gives young female sailors the chance to compete against some of the best teams in the nation, and to be coached by professional coaches and past Olympians. The event consists of a two day clinic and three days of racing, during all of which coaches are available to provide valuable insight.

When and where was this event hosted?
Anisha – This year the event was hosted in Annapolis, Maryland, out of the Annapolis Yacht Club. It was from July 13th through the 18th.
Hanna – Ida Lewis took place in Annapolis, Maryland at the Annapolis Yacht Club from July 14th through 18th.

Why did you decide to go to this event? Did you have to qualify?
Anisha – I first heard about the event through Andrew Nelson when I was doing my level ones. I was intrigued because it was a women’s event with spin and trap, both of which I had never done before. I looked it up and saw that it was in Annapolis which I confused with Anaheim in the moment. So I told Hanna about the event and how close it was (or so I thought). We decided to go, and later that day when she looked it up and realized it was in Maryland we had already set out minds to it, so Maryland it was. We didn’t have to qualify we just had to fill out an application.
Hanna – Anisha and I decided to go this event to better ourselves as sailors by competing against some of the best women in the country, and getting amazing coaching we would not otherwise have access to. We did not have to qualify.

Tell me a little bit about your preparation for this event. Did you practice specifically for it? Did you do anything out of your normal sailing routine for this event?
Anisha – As soon as Hanna and I decided to go we started to practice. We had never sailed at a regatta together before or sailed with spin and trap together. We usually practiced a few times a week. During the high school season we stayed after some practices and in summer we came down in the evenings.
Hanna – Anisha and I practiced as much as we could from the time we registered in May until the week we left in June. We received some coaching from Willamette coaches while we learned how to trapeze and fly the spinnaker. We sailed any time there was wind in the evenings and on weekends, trying to improve our heavy wind skills.

What were your expectations for this event? How did you think you would do, and what was your overall goal?
Anisha – We expected it to be a learning experience. It was our first regatta together and my first spin and trap regatta so we knew there would be a learning curve. Our primary goal was to improve and have fun but we also wanted to stay away from last and shoot for mid fleet.
Hanna – We expected to just go and sail our best, with our only goal being to become better sailors. We were not expecting to do very well compared to the sailors from more competitive programs, but were hoping to at least beat a few other boats.

Were you nervous on day one? How did you feel in comparison on the final day?
Anisha – I was excited and nervous on day one and I was happy, burnt and exhausted on the last day.
Hanna – We were a little nervous on the first day because we were certainly out of our element among brand new boats, tension gauges, and a wealth of new information from coaches. Everyone around us seemed to know more about rig tuning and spinnaker and trapeze sailing, but we were mostly just eager to learn as much as we could.

Did you receive coaching during the regatta? What did you take away from the coach(es) if so?
Anisha – We received tons of coaching! That’s part of what made the experience so valuable. The coaches helped us improve boat speed and gave us a lot of insight into sailing at different venues and sailing in chop.
Hanna – We received coaching from many different coaches throughout the clinic and regatta. We were coached by everyone from a former Olympian, to the Cornell University coach, to one of US Sailing’s head coaches. We took away a wealth of information about how to sail in chop, racing strategy and tactics, and techniques for spinnaker and trapeze.

What was your biggest mistake during the regatta? Did you learn from it?
Anisha – Our biggest mistake was not asking about how to sail in their current and chop before our first day on the water, but we learned quickly and made sure to talk to locals.
Hanna – Prior to the second day of the clinic, I had never done a trapping reach with the spinnaker up because the Willamette was simply too narrow. We were able to practice it once before racing, but were certainly not prepared to set the spinnaker and trap at the same time. During the only race that was consistently above 15 knots, we were in the top ten around the windward mark, but couldn’t set the spin fast enough and got passed by around 15 boats. Though it was disappointing, just the experience of trying to preform the complex maneuver in that much wind forced us to learn a lot about how to handle the boat and ourselves.

If you had to name one person who most influenced your passion for sailing, who would it be? Why?
Anisha – Coach Steve. Steve was my first coach ever in optis and he coached me for about five years. He showed me that sailing is more than about being the fastest boat, it’s about improving and having fun. I don’t think my passion for sailing would be the same if it weren’t for him and his patience and encouragement when I was a tiny opti sailor.

Whats the best piece of sailing advice you’ve ever received?
Hanna – My old sailing coach Kyle Eaton used to tell us “first one on the course, first one around the windward mark”. Knowing the course and the wind patterns before the race is extremely valuable, and Kyle’s words remind me how important this practice is.

Whats the best part about sailing at WSC?
Anisha – The community! I’ve been sailing at WSC since I was 8 or 9 and it’s shaped the kind of person I am today. I’ve made some amazing supportive friends and get to spend time in a fun environment.
Hanna – Competing at such competitive events at fancy yacht cubs has made me appreciate WSC’s laid back and welcoming community. Unlike many clubs, you don’t need to be the best or most accomplished sailor to be accepted by those around you, making it much more easy and comfortable to learn.

Whats your 5 year plan?
Anisha – Next year will be my senior year of high school and I am planning on attending college for four years after that. I don’t know where I want to go to college yet but I do hope to continue sailing in college.
Hanna – This fall I will be attending Tufts University, were I will be crewing on their varsity team. During my time there I plan on majoring in biology and eventually becoming a crew or even skipper for their women’s team.

Our experience wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the Oregon Youth Sailing Foundation and Pacific International Yachting Association. The support they show for youth sailors looking to learn and compete on higher levels was integral for us to make it to Annapolis. We can’t say enough thank you’s to both organizations for the critical role they played in us being able to sail at the sailing capital of the world!

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