Hampton Yacht Club Wins Optimist Team Race

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2020 Optimist Pram Team Race Invite

Hampton Yacht Club along with over a dozen other yacht clubs around the country submitted an application several months ago in hopes of an invite to the 2020 Optimist Pram Team Invitational presented by Zim Sailing and hosted by South Carolina Yacht Club. HYC was honored over the summer to be accepted for one of the five available invitational berths. HYC parents, coaches, and team traveled to Hilton Head with gallons of hand sanitizer, masks, and disinfectant wipes to keep our players safe but provide them with an incredible sailing opportunity.


Hampton Yacht Club Wins Optimist Team Race

Leila Pfrang

Leila is the youngest of three children that all grew up sailing in the HYC junior program. Older sister Kaila is currently competing on the MIT Varsity Sailing Team, older brother Kyle is currently competing in the Laser Radial class for HYC and is a teammate of Leila’s on the Nansemond Suffolk Academy team. Let’s also not forget her father Chris is an avid 505 and Laser sailor!
Leila is an incredible sailor that easily comprehends the complexities of team racing and enjoys sailing for her high school team as well. In her spare time she also enjoys training in the Laser 4.7. She is a past recipient of the Clyde Winters Junior Award.
Hampton Yacht Club Wins Optimist Team Race

James Allgeier

James is the middle child of another family of sailors! Eldest brother Henry is competing in Laser Radials, i420s, and the Norfolk Academy High School Sailing Team. Younger brother Andrew is starting his Green fleet Opti career.
James has had a record year among the top Optimist sailors in the Chesapeake Bay winning the USODA Optimist Meeting, Commonwealth Cup, Annapolis and SSA Junior events, and is proving he is a national force to be reckoned with finishing second place at the USODA South East Championship. James also competes for LISOT and one of his favorite sailing experiences was his opportunity to train in Argentina. Don’t let the smile fool you he is a fierce competitor with the work ethic and drive of a champion.
Hampton Yacht Club Wins Optimist Team Race

Amelon Rule

Amelon is the elder of two siblings, younger brother Jack is starting out in learn to sail classes. Amelon has excellent boat speed and focuses everyday to improve her skills on the water. When she is not sailing in her Opti she enjoys Feva Sailing with friends and racing with her dad on their J30 Rhumb Line at HYC or NYCC.
Amelon’s accomplishments this summer helped to obtain a spot on LOOT and expect to see some great finishes over the next coming months as this girl continues to hone her skills with excellent professional coaching and heads to Team Trials.
Leila, James, and Amelon are the three sailors that represented a growing, broad, and diverse Opti program at Hampton Yacht Club. The coaching staff and players would like to thank all of their teammates on HRRT for their many hours on the water that prepared them for this event. We would also like to especially thank Coaches Nathan Smith, Benton Amthor, Mitch Brindley, Vir Menon, and Pepe Betinni that provided excellent mentoring and vision for our athletes to achieve together.

A World Class Event

Hampton Yacht Club Wins Optimist Team Race

One of the most amazing and vital pieces to this event is the charter fleet. Eighteen brand new color-coordinated Zim Zforce International Optis, all with the same race spars, blades, and rigging. SCYC provides each team with coach boats and accommodations with the help of sponsors. Each sailor proudly gets their names on the transom of each boat and each club has their letters and

Hampton Yacht Club Wins Optimist Team Race

 burgee displayed on the sides of the hull. Needless to say, these kids were STOKED! A HUGE thank you to Bob Adams and Zim Sailing!

A Competitive Event

Hampton Yacht Club Wins Optimist Team Race

Team Dynamic: Calm, Cool, Collected

In preparation for this event HYC Opti Coach Nathan Smith worked with ODU Head Coach Mitch Brindley to help develop a very good team dynamic between the three sailors. Smith, a graduate of Christ Church School won the Baker Trophy for the ISSA National Team Race Championship, largely due to the fact that the team had the best communication on the water.

Coach Smith starting drilling communication between team members during practice and throughout the event it was our team you could hear constantly!

Hampton Yacht Club Wins Optimist Team Race

First Two Rounds

Saturday was light and a king tide in Hilton Head made for a twelve foot tide and 3 knots of current unfortunately making sailing impossible. Sunday, however, the breeze was sustained 10 knots with some higher gusts but the indefatigable 3 knots of current would make for a tricky race course. Losing all racing Saturday meant there was enough time for roughly two rounds of sailing and then a final knock out round.

Hampton Yacht Club Wins Optimist Team Race
HYC met each team with great boat speed and conservative starts due to the current. The three were able to best each team except for SCYC in Round One. The team was positive but conscious that any team here could win. Sailing is a close knit community and our sailors have competed against the SCYC sailors before. James Pine, Nathan Pine, and Wyatt Norman are all three very accomplished and proficient sailors in the class. After the first round SCYC went 5-0, HYC 4-1 sitting second.
Moving into Round Two the teams started to figure out the current so HYC was able to out sail the other teams with better team racing maneuvers such as mark traps and passbacks. When we came up against SCYC both teams had a balanced start. HYC was able to gain an advantage but was positioned into Play 4 when the team should have went to Play 2 for a more stable final beat; unfortunately the pairs with the help of the current were easily unbalanced and we lost again to SCYC. HYC took one more loss in the second round to Annapolis Yacht Club, but was able to overcome the other teams’ win-loss records to be the second seed against SCYC into the Finals Round. The slate was clean and both teams would sail a best two finishes out of three races for the Paul Miller Perpetual Trophy.


Hampton Yacht Club Wins Optimist Team Race

The mental toughness of any athlete is crucial. The entire event the coaching philosophy was promote the good, calmly critique and explain the mistakes, and send them with simple goals for the next race. All around us we saw teams cracking throughout the event except for SCYC. The HYC team had suffered two losses to SCYC, if HYC could beat them in the first race of the final SCYC in the HYC athlete’s minds would become “beatable.” That’s what we needed and that is precisely what happened.

Protests are part of the team race game and SCYC fouled at Mark 3 and was spinning, a miscommunication between their team left an opportunity for Hampton to go for a stable winning combination up the final beat. The team was amped, perhaps a little too excited, this was still not over… The coaching was simple: “composure.” Focus, stay conservative, have a good start, win your pair, cover, and sail fast. The start was on, each team jockeyed up the first beat of the Digital N course, SCYC was in an unstable winning pair at Mark 1, which HYC converted to an unstable winning pair, and worked hard on the downwind and at Mark 3 to convert to a stable winning pair for the final beat. However, the pairs were so close and the finish so tight that both Nathan and I believed they did but we weren’t sure, perhaps we were just in shock…But then over VHF Channel 72 came the race committee RED defeats GREY! They had done it!

Hampton Yacht Club Wins Optimist Team Race

Amelon Rule, Leila Pfrang, Coach Nathan Smith, and James Allgeier celebrate at the outdoor awards ceremony at South Carolina Yacht Club after winning the 2020 Optimist Pram Invitational. Coach Smith is holding the Paul Miller Perpetual Trophy for the second time in his life! James, Leila, and Amelon will have their names engraved next to their Coach’s name along with his Fishing Bay teammates that won the event in its inaugural year. Coach Smith and myself are incredibly proud of the team’s accomplishment and excited to announce that we will have the chance to defend their title next year. We would like to thank the membership, Junior Advisory Board members, and The HYC Board, and Commodore Leigh Chapman for supporting us. Thank you to SCYC, the umpire team, PRO Chip Till and Kevin Jewitt and Zim for an incredible eventThe Paul Miller Trophy will be on display at Hampton Yacht Club for the year.