2018 Orange Bowl DeBrief

The holidays are for quality time with friends and family, right?

Sure, but mostly the holidays are for fighting for parking spots in the Grove, storming the Fresh Market sandwich rack and long, long days on the water.

Miami turned out at this year’s 2018 Open Orange Bowl Regatta with four days of racing with everything from “batten down the hatches” ripping gusts to windless horse latitude drifters that had us checking for scurvy.

A great turnout at this year’s event with skiffies representing nearly every corner and pocket of the US and beyond: sailors from Connecticut, New England, California, New Orleans, Miami, Sweden and the UK.  Domestically, we are about to have a moment in the 29er class and many of us have been waiting for it for a while now.

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New interest from sailors from far reaching places coupled with the recent ebb of veteran participants puts the class in a potential identity crisis. It’s amazing that the 29er has garnered so much interest, especially from many post-Opti sailors. And with the new influx of fervor it’s important we all step up and pass on the tenants of skiff culture like inclusion and cooperation. There’s a Greek proverb that says,

“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”

I’ve been thinking about this quote a lot lately and taking another look at this year’s Orange Bowl, I think we’re actually in good shape. We’re fortunate in the 29er class to not have an age limit. We all (coaches, sailors, competitors) benefit from the engagement of veteran and seasoned athletes who are now in college or pursuing Olympic classes in order to pass on their skill and expertise to the next generation.

I recall a particular debrief that got heated when an impassioned veteran called out a newer team for their lack of sportsmanship at the gate (boat to boat contact, no spin). In a sport that is mostly self-governed these moments  galvanize upstanding characteristics in our class’s athletes.

The vets are torchbearers for newcomers in the dark on much of the cultural, technical, practical components of being a skiff sailor. A handful of O.G. 29er sailors were a part of this year’s regatta: Ian MacDiarmid, Shane Riera, Nic Muller, Duncan Williford, Chris Williford who returned to the race course. Some as competitors, some coaches. Neil Marcellini returned to the boat this winter bringing his cool, California sensibility to the race track. The 2017 Youth Worlds representative in the 29er, Neil partnered with another Cali native, Ryan Janov a freshman at George Washington University, whose two younger brothers Grant & Jordan fought for the podium throughout the entire event.

Last point, keeping in touch with our post-29er graduates helps outline the path of future possibilities for our current class of participants. Where are these dudes at now after their 29er days? They’re collegiate sailing, racing in the Red Bull Foiling Generation, Ocean Racing, and pursuing Olympic campaigns in the men’s 49er.


Our South Florida homegirl, Bella Casaretto won Orange Bowl for the fourth year in a row. Read it again- fourth. We now refer to her only as the Orange Bowl Queen and will request she wear a crown at all times. [results~2015- 1st in Optimist; 2016- 1st in 29er with Ian MacDiarmid; 2017- 1st in 29er with Kaitlyn Hamilton; 2018 – 1st in 29er with her teammate and skipper Berta Puig.]

As the Miami based squad leader, I can’t thank you enough, to all the participants who traveled to our event this year. Hope to see you soon for the upcoming events in February & March for MidWinter’s East.

Final thought: To return to the Greek proverb above, I think skiff sailing might be more like the fountain of youth than ancient Greece because we all keep coming back to the watering hole.

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