Reflections on the U.S. Laser Masters Championship A Competitive Regatta and So Much More by Jacelyn (Jacie) Swenson
he Corinthian spirit is alive and well in the Laser Masters’ cirLiberating. While I didn’t have the usual familial support cuit. A contributing factor may be that most Laser Masters are system that weekend, I was surrounded by some extraordinary there to prove something to themselves, not to others. While it women who helped each other onshore with rigging tips and was great to see many familiar faces at the Brant Beach YC (BBYC) launching assistance and provided support on the water with on Long Beach Island, NJ, for the U.S. Laser Masters Champismiles, encouragement, and a few chuckles as we found ourselves onship, it was a welcome sight to see several female sailors at the far too close to our male competitors as they were relieving themevent. The Laser, a demanding, high-performance, and high-pain selves. When BBYC kept us onshore until the breeze filled in, we machine, can be intimidating for some women; and the sad reality women sailors connected quickly and deeply on topics that only is that sailing in general continues to be a male-dominated sport. women can dig into. Many mutual challenges were shared, and Little has changed since I started racing at the age of eight. common problems were addressed while the AP flag flew. Empowering. There The U.S. Laser Masters are many areas of our Championship meant more to lives where the rules of me than most regattas for two engagement are dictated reasons. Firstly, my father-inby men—corporate and law, Jack Swenson, was very volunteer boards come to active and highly-regarded in mind. Women generally the class and raced at Laser have to “walk the talk” Masters events around the like a man to survive. In world until his untimely death sailing, brains must ac20 years ago. He founded company brawn, and this the Florida Laser Masters as enables us to play to our well as the Royal Turkey YC innate strategic and tactiin North Palm Beach, FL, cal strengths. On the race host of many Laser regattas course, we can be tough, through the years. I received yet the mutual respect warm welcomes from several for the fellow female seasoned sailors when they sailor reigns supreme. saw my last name. They all There are no pretenses, were eager to share their no threats, no patron“Jack stories” throughout the izing comments, such as, weekend. In fact, I talked to ##(L-R): Faye Flam, Ellie Riggs, Ramsey Murray Alexander, Judith Krimski, Jacelyn (Jacie) Swenson, Lynne Jewell-Shore, and “I couldn’t let a girl beat Jack a lot while on the course Margaret Bonds Podlich. Not pictured: Dorian Haldeman. me,” that I received after and asked more than once Photo by Judith Krimski ©2012 CoachNotesSailing being covered closely in that he help me keep the boat the final leg of the second flat when the gusts roared race and ultimately being through. squeezed out at the finish line. The last time I checked, the calSecondly, it had been more than five years since I spent any real endar said the year was 2012, but I digress… Rather, there’s suptime in the Laser. Shepherding two kids through the Opti and Junior Laser circuit the last 12 years and juggling a demanding career, port, admiration, and quick congratulations for a race well-sailed. Age-Defying/Defining. My hectic, pressure-filled life can family obligations, and various life events along the way gave the trek north to Brant Beach a whole new meaning. I was getting back challenge my confidence and senses. I started a demanding circuit training and spinning regimen three years ago to help deal with in touch with something that is very much a part of me. Yes, I had missed the sailing, but I also had missed the sailors and the commu- the day-to-day stresses. While my size made me less competitive as the breeze freshened, my training gave me the endurance nity. While there was some intense sailing over the three days, for and strength to stick it out. And, after pounding down the Advil me it also was fulfilling, liberating, empowering, and age-defying... like everyone else, I actually felt my body bounce back faster than or is it age-defining? Fulfilling. Female sailors share an immediate connection. There’s expected. Although heavily bruised and battered after the long weekend, an unspoken acknowledgement that we’re out-weighed, out-musI can’t wait to get back in my Laser. While getting older can be cled, out-voiced, and certainly inconvenienced when nature calls. inhibiting in some aspects of life, you actually get credit for your Yet, we love the sport and the camaraderie. The older I get, the age when you sail in a Laser Masters regatta. The older you are, more I appreciate simply getting in my boat, staying upright, and the more points the younger sailors owe you for each race. What being able to get out of my boat at the end of the day. It’s a bonus a deal! Maybe aging isn’t so bad after all, especially if I have some if I can get clear air at the start, hit the shifts, and lead a few boats female contemporaries by my side. around the course. Follow us!
SpinSheet November 2012 73
Chesapeake Bay Sailing