Jun 30, 2010
Author: Bernd Roediger / Photos by Kevin Pritchard
The next day I woke up as groggy as ever. "Something about this climate makes me soooo tired,” I thought to myself. Today was competition day but I felt very relaxed. Half of me said it was a good thing that it meant I felt prepared and ready. But the other half of me wondered if I had my head in the game.
We got to the beach early and rigged up. After the skippers meeting they gave us some time to practice. My sailing felt better than before but I didn't feel completely on. The Juniors were being run first today so I got down to the beach to get ready for the start. I should have been preparing myself mentally for the contest but I was having a hard time focusing. Luckily I was hyped up with the excitement of the contest that I made it through the first round! I pulled a forward right off the bat and then followed up with an air. But as the day wore on I felt my focus needed more focus! After the Junior heat I sailed in the Expert. That was when I started making mistakes.
Throughout the rest of the day I would make little goof-ups in my heats. Sometimes I wouldn't start my watch on time and other times I would follow other people out into the water and be too early on my start. I was getting sloppy. In the Expert division I got knocked out even before the quarter finals! I needed to pull myself together, but before I knew it I was in the Junior finals.
It was a heat between Jake Golm, Morgan Noireaux, Zane Shnauzer, and I. I went out and pulled a decent forward but the wind was light and I soon ended up too far downwind and out of the competition zone. I then spent the better part of the heat making my way upwind. I made one jump and two waves, the required amount for the contest, but I felt like I didn't sail my best.
Later that night the judges announced that Zane had won. Needless to say I was upset. Not with Zane or the judges, not with anyone but me. It was my fault for being so unprepared mentally. I knew my skill was there but I didn't have my head in the game. Luckily the contest was a double elimination so there was still a chance for me to win, but before that I would have to get my head in the right place.
The next day we woke up as early as ever. I couldn't forget what I was doing this time, I was too angry. When we got down to the beach I tried my best to stay focused but I couldn't help but think that I had done something wrong yesterday. I felt like if I could find out what I did wrong I could do things differently and win. But that only made things worse.
I got second in the Juniors so I only had to sail until the semi-finals but in the Expert I had to sail in the second bracket. And before I knew it, it was my turn to sail. Still trying to figure out what I did wrong I sailed an awful two heats. I would hit a wave once or twice and then go upwind afraid to get too far down the beach. Then when I jumped I played things safe, trying to land simple things rather than going for big contest winner jumps. I skated by for two heats but then I was in a heat with a lot of tough sailors and I knew it was now or never to get my head on straight.
My Dad walked up next to me and asked what was wrong. "I have no idea" I said "that's the problem". "You want to know what you did wrong yesterday?" he said. I perked up. "What?" "Nothing" he replied. He saw that I looked completely confused so he explained that all I needed to do was focus on what I wanted and sail like I do all the time. That way I would be proud of what I did, regardless of what place I got. That made sense to me but I needed to really believe it and it wasn't until the last moment that I did.
I sat on the cold, wet, beach. The wind was blowing sand in my face but I didn't care, I was already sandy. My heat was up next so I sat and prepared. I prepared my mind to win. Then the first horn blew and I walked my gear up. Everyone ran to the water and sailed out but I stayed on the beach. I would go out at the start of the heat. My face was expressionless but I was screaming on the inside. This time, right here today, I knew exactly where I was. I was in a windsurfing contest just before my heat. And I knew exactly what I was doing here. Preparing to win. It was time that I got my head out of my butt and got myself together. Just then the horn blew… it was now or never.
I went out and felt all the anger inside me focus into what I needed to do. I went out and hit the biggest ramp I could find with the most speed I could muster! I paused on the jump enough to take one; stormy calm, breath and then I went into the biggest delayed forward I've ever done.
From that point the heats went great. I made it all the way to the quarter finals and then got beat out by Tyson Poor. But then there were the Junior semi-finals.
In this heat I was competing against Morgan Noireaux. He was a fierce competitor who has back loops completely mastered! But I pulled another giant forward and a grubby on the wave, which drew applause (at least that's what my Dad told me). So I managed to beat Morgan and now I would face Zane.
During the first round I was able to stick to the game plan. I pulled another nice forward and an off-the-lip. After that I followed up with catching a freak mast-high set and rode it all the way down the beach for an epic score! After the heat was over I congratulated Zane and the judges came out with the results. I had won the final!
Woo-hoo! I won, yeah! Not. It turns out that in the double elimination the looser has to beat the single elimination winner twice! So I had one more heat to run!
I ran another solid heat packed with good turns and jumps! I pulled another grubby on the wave into a sick top turn! I figured I had the contest won! But Zane managed to beat me! Still, I couldn't help but feeling great about what I did! It must of confused Zane to see how happy I was even though I lost. But the reality was that I sailed completely focused and on top of my game, because of that I had no regrets.
The next day I had an awesome stand-up session and then watched the heated battle between Francisco Goya and Kevin Pritchard! That night they held the awards ceremony and when they called the Juniors up my Dad said that I looked like I was kneeling on the floor! "It only makes sense since you're two years younger than they are!" He said. I told him I felt like I was back in the Redwood Forest! But regardless of the fact that I was the youngest and smallest out of the podium finishers I could take a nap on the plane back home, wake up, and not only remember; but also be proud of where I had been and what I had done.
P.S. Next time I'm bringing booties, headgear, gloves, and a whale blubber wetsuit!