It’s nothing short of exciting that the first official StFYC regatta is on the schedule this week – the International Laser Class Association (ILCA) North Americans. 125 boats are registered, somewhat short of what the regatta would typically host but given the uncertainties surrounding the ability to even run the event due to the pandemic, ILCA sailors will take the competition. Racing starts at noon on Thursday, and 11am Friday through Sunday.
Al Sargent, Foundation Advisory Board member, used his pandemic time last summer and every week through the winter to train for the event. He grew up in Mill Valley in a sailing family – his dad and mom sailed Snipes and a Rhodes 19 – and he started sailing Lasers in 1979, spending long summer days in his boat during family vacations in the Delta on the family Catalina 27.
“We’d gunkhole at some anchorage in the Delta and I’d sail all afternoon and only come in for dinner,” he laughed. “
Sargent started taking the Laser class (now known as the ILCA) seriously around 1983 when he did a Laser Symposium at Tinsley Island run by a couple of Olympians – Russ Silvestri and John Kostecki. That got him fired up and a year after that he competed in the US Youth Championships in Newport Beach.
“That was really my first entrée into serious competition,” Sargent recalled. “I first competed in a North American event in about 1985 and got 10th in the silver fleet. I’ve been competing ever since.”
He says consistent training throughout the past year with a group he sails with out of the Alameda Community Sailing Center has been helpful to stay familiar with the boat and all the little things to keep in mind and keep abreast of the competition.
“The competition will be very stiff – the US and Canadian Olympic Development teams will be very fast and I say that from personal experience, as I have been practicing with them!” Sargent noted. “Julian Soto is one of my training partners and he will be fast, and Andrew Holdsworth is always fast.”
Given the San Francisco City Front venue for this week’s regatta, and that the forecast is for big breeze, Sargent has focused on physical fitness off the water as well as on the water training.
“I’ve been trying to put in time on the bike two-three times a week as well as floor exercises, weight-lifting etc.,” he said. “San Francisco is one of the toughest places in the world to sail and the ILCA class is one of the toughest boats to sail. Put those together and this is going to be a pretty challenging event for a lot of people – physically and mentally, there’ll be gear breakage etc. Also, keep in mind when we sail three races in one day, we can cover about 26 miles, which is a marathon – we’re essentially doing a marathon every day for four days. It’s a lot of strain on the body!” Event Info