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First stop on the 2021 West Marine US Open Sailing Series: Fort Lauderdale

by US Sailing 15 Jan 01:52 UTC January 15-18, 2021
US Sailing Team © Will Ricketson

A new U.S. based Olympic-class racing series takes center stage this week in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for the start of the 2021 West Marine US Open Sailing Series. The Lauderdale Yacht Club will host the first-ever US Open Sailing Series regatta for four days of exciting racing beginning this Friday, January 15 through Monday, January 18.

Fort Lauderdale will feature three events this week, all representing the Laser Class. Over 130 men, women, and youth sailors have registered to compete in one of the three competing events, including the Laser (41), Laser Radial (71), and Laser 4.7 (21).

Ten countries, including the United States, will be represented by competing sailors this week in Fort Lauderdale. Sailors representing Canada, U.S. Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, Argentina, Bermuda, Chile, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela will be in action this week.

Top Laser sailor athletes on the US Sailing Team will be racing this week. The women's Laser Radial fleet features two-time Olympian and Tokyo 2020 selected athlete Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.). The Florida native has been training in her hometown of Clearwater with coach, Steve Mitchell.

Railey has enjoyed training with fellow teammate Charlotte Rose (Houston, Texas), who will also be competing in the Laser Radial fleet this week. The two have been joined in their training by Olympic Development Program (ODP) Laser Radial sailors Lilly Myers, Christina Sakellaris, and Hallie Schiffman. Rose has been staying connected with her college sailing team at Jacksonville University while she continues training in Miami, Clearwater, and Fort Lauderdale.

The Laser fleet is headlined by 2016 Olympian and Tokyo 2020 selected athlete Charlie Buckingham (Newport Beach, Calif.). The 2019 Pan American Games Bronze Medalist had a busy latter half of 2020 with strong finishes in Europe at the Italian Olympic Class Championship (1st overall), Kieler Woche (4th overall), and the Laser European Championship (6th overall). Following his long trip through Europe, Buckingham taught a weekend Laser Clinics to youth sailors in Long Beach and enjoyed sharing his expertise and connecting with the next generation of sailors. Buckingham arrived in Fort Lauderdale last week and will also race at the US Open Sailing Series - Clearwater coming up in early February.

The youth movement is in full swing this week in Fort Lauderdale with a number of talented youth athletes, 16 representing US Sailing's ODP, testing themselves against a fleet that includes Olympians, World Champions, and a strong cast of experienced national and international sailors.

The list of international sailors racing this week features accomplished Olympic-class sailors with strong resumes. Guatemala's Juan Ignacio Maegli (GUA) will be racing in the Laser class. Maegli is a three-time Olympian (2016, 2012, 2008) and he won the ICSA (Intercollegiate Sailing Association) Coed Dinghy National Championship with the College of Charleston in 2013. He was named College Sailor of the Year that same year.

Argentina's Francisco Guaragna Rigonat (ARG) has returned to South Florida for racing and training this winter. Rigonat captured the Silver Medal at the 2020 Hempel World Cup Series Miami in the Laser class last year.

Canada's Sarah Douglas won Gold at the 2019 Pan American Games in Peru and is pushing forward towards her goal of competing at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Douglas has been training in Florida this winter and will be racing this week in Fort Lauderdale.

Follow the Racing:

  • Regatta News & Coverage: Visit the official 2021 West Marine US Open Sailing Series event website for news, results & standings, photos & videos, and regatta information.

  • Social Media: Follow US Sailing and the US Sailing Team on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for news and highlights from the racecourse.

  • Join the Conversation: Use hashtag - #USOpenSailing in your social media posts.

  • Entry List: Click here to find out who is racing this week in the three Laser events.

  • Racing Specifics: The racing area shall be in the Atlantic Ocean approximately one mile south of the Port Everglades Channel Entrance. The first warning signal for racing each day is 1100 hours (11am ET).
The Laser is one of the world's most popular adult racing class boats and typically rewards athleticism, steering and trimming techniques, and tactical excellence. The Laser Radial is outfitted with a smaller sail and shorter, more flexible mast than the Laser. The Laser Radial is the perfect racing class boat for small adults, women, and youth alike. The Laser 4.7 is a competitive youth class sailboat and a great entry level racer for younger and lighter sailors.

On Monday, January 11, US Sailing and host yacht clubs at sailing venues in Florida and California launched a new racing and training series of Olympic-class regattas in 2021 and beyond.

The West Marine US Open Sailing Series offers an increase in high-quality Olympic-class racing for U.S. athletes with a goal of attracting top-level international competitors to race in these regattas for years to come.

US Sailing and the larger community of sailors in the U.S. identified a demand for a racing and training platform based in the United States that serves to provide as a runway to the Olympic Games for prospective athletes. With the 2028 LA Olympics on the distant horizon, it is essential for US Sailing to establish a consistent and predictable cycle for athletes to plan for on an annual basis.

Founded in 1938, Lauderdale Yacht Club (LYC) has always been a traditional private club run by its members with the focus on a family friendly environment. The club is committed to promoting and teaching the sport of sailing and seamanship to the youth of the club and community.

The LYC has been hosting Olympic-class regattas since 1982. They have hosted the annual Finn Midwinters and Women's Laser Radial North American Championships over the years. These events often served as a runway for athletes planning to race at World Cup Miami. In 2004, LYC hosted the Olympic Trials for the Finn Class and the Europe Dinghy Class. The LYC Olympic Class Regatta has been used as an Olympic Trials event for other countries. The club has also hosted numerous Pan American Games Trials used to select the United States representatives.

There have been numerous Olympic campaigns launched from LYC. Sailors with Olympic campaigns often request the opportunity to train at LYC, and these sailors give back to the junior sailing program at the club. This structure has helped the junior sailing program develop into one of the best in the world.

To learn more about the West Marine US Open Sailing Series and to follow all the action in 2021, visit the series website at usopen.ussailing.org.

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