Starting 2021 off with a bang, the US Sailing Center in Jensen Beach Florida played host to the RS Aero South Florida Race Week. Supported by Zim Sailing and Intensity Sails, four events took place between January 30th and February 7th. Over 20 RS Aeros, across three classes, participated in nine days of racing and training events. The nine days included:
- RS Aero Florida State Championship, Jan 30th- Feb 1st
- Groundhog Day Distance Challenge, Feb 2nd
- Racing Clinic with Mark Jacobi, Feb 3rd
- RS Aero Midwinter Championship, Feb 4th-7th
With events being cancelled across the country, the RS Aero South Florida Race Week offered sailors a safe way to get together and race. The first weekend consisted of 8-17 knot breeze, warm weather and tight racing across the three classes. After nine total races, Paul Gingras finished atop the RS Aero 5 leaderboard, Marc Jacobi won the RS Aero 7 class and Madhavan Thirumalai, with nine first place finishes, led the RS Aero 9 class. Competition aside, for many of the racers the real joy was being able to get out on the water with friends; “why do I race?” Greg Popp said. “So that I can go sailing with my friends!”
After a weather delay, racing continued February 3rd with the first ever North American RS Aero distance race. The Groundhog Day Distance Challenge saw racers tasked with traversing a tricky zig-zag course in shifty breeze. Sailors were given the option to go either clockwise or counterclockwise around the course. After almost 90 minutes and 7 miles of racing, the clockwise approach proved fastest with Jacobi, Thirumalai and Myerson finishing first, second and third, respectively.
Taking a break from competition, two-time RS Aero World Champion Marc Jacobi led a racing clinic. He covered topics ranging from rigging optimization to boat handling drills. Dealing with light, shifty conditions allowed sailors a great opportunity to focus on boat speed and maneuvers in varying breeze. Lessons that came in handy for the final weekend of racing.
Wide ranging breeze led to close racing, with 11 different racers recording first place finishes throughout the event. The fleets included long time RS Aero racers, such as Jacobi and Thirumalai, as well as first time racers. After three days of racing and 12 total races Gingras, Jacobi and Thirumalai emerged the victors from their respective classes. Perhaps the biggest news of the event, however, was racer Phil Myerson proposing to his girlfriend before racing on Saturday. For this fleet, it is evident that while competition between racers runs deep, camaraderie between friends runs deeper.