For the second time in a month, Stephen and Matt Long set their Laser sails on the emerald waters of Miami. From Jan. 26 to Feb. 2, they joined the world’s top Olympic class competitors in the ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami.
Established in 1990 by U.S. Sailing and formerly known as Miami OCR, the regatta annually draws elite sailors, including Olympic medalists and hopefuls from around the world. The regatta is a mainstay on the winter circuit for sailors who are campaigning for the Olympic Sailing Competitions in Rio 2016, and is the second stop in the 2012-13 series following Melbourne, Australia, and preceding Palma, Spain, and Hyeres, France.
In addition to being an ISAF Sailing World Cup ranking event, the regatta is also used as an aid in selecting members of the 2013 U.S. Sailing Team.
This was the Longs’ first time at Miami OCR, and they weren’t sure what to expect. The first day on the water the U.S. Sailing Team Laser coach offered to coach the two youth sailors for the entire regatta. The other U.S. sailors welcomed the two youngsters and were extremely helpful as well.
Each day the two met for debriefing with the U.S. Sailing Team and went over what went well and discussed what things they could improve. It was a very friendly and warm atmosphere at the regatta. They learned a lot from all of the competitors. Regardless of country, you could sense the camaraderie among the sailors both on and off the water.
After three days of 80-degree weather with 12 to 18 knots of wind, they were ready to split the 70 competitors from 23 countries into two fleets. The top group of sailors would be placed in Gold fleet and the others would sail in Silver fleet.
Matt Long, having celebrated his 16th birthday just two months earlier, missed being placed in Gold fleet by a mere seven positions.
Over the next couple of days, the two competed well in Silver fleet, and Stephen was able to post some of his better scores for the regatta. Ultimately, Stephen and Matt finished ninth and 13th, respectively, in Silver fleet.
Their previous visit to Biscayne Bay required them to spend Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve flying to and from Miami so they could compete in the Orange Bowl Youth International Regatta. The Orange Bowl regatta is the largest youth regatta in North America. Every year it draws more than 600 competitors from more than 20 countries. This was their third Orange Bowl regatta, and this year Matt placed seventh and Stephen placed ninth in the highly competitive 29-boat Laser fleet.
The two brothers are attending Dos Pueblos High School, where Stephen is a senior and Matt is a junior. They train locally with the Santa Barbara Youth Sailing Foundation. The program supports the Santa Barbara, Dos Pueblos and Laguna Blanca sailing teams. The program is directed by local San Marcos and UCSB alumni Willie McBride. Practices are three days a week and often held in conjunction with the UCSB sailing team.