2011 Laser Radial Junior World Championship

Dear Newport Harbor Sailing Foundation,

The summer of 2011 focused on the transition of my efforts from the Laser Radial to the Laser Standard. I would like to thank you for all of your support this past summer in my endeavors.

This past July I competed in the Laser Radial Junior World Championship in La Rochelle, France. In preparation for this event I drove to Long Beach fifteen days from June 28th to July 18th, and sailed an average of two and a half to three hours a day in the big breeze and waves in San Pedro Harbor. I was fortunate enough to sail the majority of my days with locals Vann Wilson, Michael Bradley, Chuck Trip, and Kevin Taughner. I was also extremely lucky to sail most of the days with Charlie Buckingham. During every rabbit start, wind sprint, and downwind drag race, I observed as much as I could from Charlie and the guys while pushing my stamina in preparation for the hour long race courses expected at the Worlds. The Junior Standard event which took place one week before ours was a consistent 16 knots if not more each day of the regatta. Upon arriving at La Rochelle I was at 163-165 pounds which is as heavy as it gets for the Radial class. I was praying for the town's classic big breeze to continue for the following week.

The first day of the regatta came in at 12 knots with maybe 14 knot puffs at the most. Unfortunately that was the best breeze we saw all week. The remainder of the week saw an average of 6-10 knots with flat water, variable current, and localized puffs making positioning on the start line and the course everyone's top priority. The international level was somewhat of a shock to me at first. Off the start line everyone was as focused as possible in keeping the boat flat or at a constant angle while keeping the bow connected to the water with steering, body torquing, and hiking as hard as they could. The whole line seemed to move at the same speed leaving no lanes open for those who fell back in the first 5 to 10 minutes. The opportunities to pass other boats on the first beat were few if any, and half the time it was a very close call to commit to a maneuver with such a high risk early in the regatta. After the first day my scores were in the mid teens out of 70 boats (there were a total of 4 fleets of 70+1- boats). Each day consisted of two races (1 hour-I hour and 15 min), with six days of racing. My scores suffered a little and then plateaued out for the rest of the regatta. It was disappointing in the fact that I had practiced more days and with more focus for the event than anything else I had ever trained for. It was an event 1 was looking to peak at for the summer.

Ultimately, as elementary as a may sound, I think in hind sight that I was so focused on my boat speed that I forgot to keep my head out of the boat. My first windward beats were poorly executed leaving the rest of my race an effort to claw back to a decent finish. On the positive side my downwind and reaching speeds kept me in a decent position relative to my first beats. I left the regatta with a big lesson that I had lost sight of. Although practice and conditioning may prepare you for an event, what you do during the moment of execution is what matters regardless of what you may have done to prepare for a given regatta. Obviously practice and conditioning are paramount, but if you cannot execute and perform in the moment with the given conditions none of that matters.

The rest of my summer consisted of competing in the standard rig in the US Laser National Championship and my last year of eligibility for the US Sailing Youth Championship. I finished seventh at both events coincidentally. I had a strong US Nationals, and a decent Youth Championship which was sailed in some harsh conditions in the first half of the regatta. All in all, the transition to the Standard rig was fairly smooth and I really enjoy the new power of the larger rig. The next event on the calendar is the ICSA Singlehanded National Championship in Chicago this year. I'm not expecting too much as a freshman going into the event, but I am really amped up to try and turn some heads and give everyone a run for their money.

Thank you again for all of your support this summer!!!


Kieran Chung