ISSA Keelboat Nationals, St. Petersburg, Florida, December 10-12, 2021

NTS keelboat sailors Cal Lutton '22, Tara Hecht '25, George Barton '22 and Abby Bennett O'Keefe '25 on the dock in St. Petersburg, Florida.

With less than two weeks’ notice, just two organizational meetings, and a lot of excitement, New Trier Sailors Abby Bennett O’Keefe (‘23), Cal Lutton (‘22), George Barton (‘22) and Tara Hecht (‘25) flew to St. Petersburg, Florida to compete in the ISSA keelboat nationals, sailing j/70s on Tampa Bay. The ten best keelboat teams in the country converged for two days of intense racing with uncertain conditions. After a day of practice with little wind, the regatta started, with an optimistically good Saturday forecast and a grim Sunday forecast. 

Saturday was postponed until noon due to not enough wind. The team took the opportunity to eat cold sandwiches on the boat, go to a local farmers market, and buy a poem. When the breeze finally picked up we got five great races in, with 8-10 knots of wind. With some stiff competition and dying wind we finished the day in tenth place, though our spirits were in first. After sailing the yacht club hosted a dinner, and the group got delicious ice cream.

Sunday’s forecast was worse, and the breeze was significantly lighter. There was a postponement on shore for many hours before heading out to race. After the first start New Trier was in a good position heading into the last downwind before the race was abandoned. After waiting many hours for a consistent breeze the race committee was able to run a race. New Trier put up a good fight in the first upwind and downwind though remaining in last, at the upwind mark and on the final downwind many tactical decisions led New Trier to a sixth place finish.

Thanks to Mrs. Hecht for chaperoning us!