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Chads Angels Down Under

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  • Chads Angels Down Under

    The 1st US Womens team to ever sail in the JJ Giltinans in Sydney Australia happened but just a couple short weeks ago, and fresh off her trip to the 18 Mecca of the World, Katie Love provided a little insight into Chad's Angels trip Down Under.

    Chad Freitas (in black) is always looking over his "angels"

    Who is Chad and why does he get angels?

    The most asked question during the JJ Giltinan 18 Foot Skiff World Championship was: who is Chad and why does he get angels? Chad is the founder of the Skiff Sailing Foundation and the ‘ring leader’ of the 18 Footers in San Francisco. Chad was the one who got me involved with 18 sailing; he provides me with a boat to use; and he has been coaching me for the past four years. Why does Chad get angels? Chad gets angels because of his symbolic resemblance to Charlie and his angels. In a nutshell, Charlie would send his three angels out to fight treacherous battles and take care of business that others could not fathom. When the angels get in trouble Charlie would save them. Chad sends his angels out on an 18 on the treacherous city front of San Francisco, in a boat that other girls could not fathom, and from time to time saves us... get it?

    Chad has obtained a plethora of angels in the past few years, including: Mallory McCollum-Bozina, Yvonne Galvez, Christine Neville, Emma Shaw, CC Childers, and me- Katie Love. In 2009 I put together the first all-women’s team to sail an 18 foot skiff in the U.S., as well as at the annual St. Francis Yacht Club 18 Foot Skiff International regatta. The only event that could trump this historic milestone was to make it to the JJ Giltinan Championship with the first all female team. The JJ Giltinan is the pinnacle regatta for the 18 Foot Class which had never had an all female team. Due to circumstances beyond my control, this would be the first time I would be able to make it to Sydney in the past four years. I knew to fulfill this long time dream that I had to find the right girls for the job. For the past year I trained with Emma Shaw and Christine Neville in the bay area.

    The team was decided, plane tickets were purchased, training was going well, charter boat arranged, and a good grasp on accommodations… life was good. Everything was in order until I received an urgent call from Emma explaining that she broke her leg and would not be able to attend the JJ’s. Luckily, CC Childers was available to replace Emma for the regatta.

    John Winning Sr Keeps an eye on two Angels whilst in Sydney

    CC and I arrived in Australia early with aspirations to get on the water and practice. CC and I were at the 18 Footers League the Sunday before the JJ’s to attend the 18 footers weekly race. Unfortunately we did not get to go sailing, but we did get on the ferry to get the lay of the land. It was fantastic to see the race course, watch the competition, and to see so many people excited to watch 18 racing. There is gambling and a bar on the ferry, but without a doubt the sailing is the most exciting part for everyone aboard. Riding the ferry just made me more anxious to get my hands on the boat and go for a sail.

    The boat showed up on Wednesday, Christine arrived on Thursday, the practice race was Friday, and the real deal started on Saturday. The moment the boat arrived the JJ Giltinan was full speed ahead. I spent all day on Wednesday preparing the number one rig (the big rig) for the light air forecast. Christine found her way down to the boat park via train, bus, and a short walk on Thursday to help with the rigging process. Christine travelled about 24 hours from Miami and was ready to go sailing as soon as she showed up. CC, Christine, and I went out for our first sail as a team on Sydney Harbor and couldn’t believe how majestic it was to be cruising past the Sydney Opera House and the harbor bridge. After multiple laps around the harbor we were satisfied with our maneuvers and ready for the practice race.

    Friday was the practice race, it is also known as the Invitational Race. This race was the first time I have ever rigged up next to 30 other boats. What an amazing site!! Even though it was the practice race it felt like the real deal. There were four restarts this day which allowed us to get in some good practice starts. Once the race started we felt fairly fast, but had no idea where we were going. We knew the course and we had seen the course chart, but once you get on Sydney Harbor it seems totally different.

    Saturday was the official first race of the JJ Giltinan Championship. We were heading out to the race course and there were two 18’s in front of us. The three of us were smashing downwind with our kites up on the big rig in 15-20 knots. One second we are fine, and the next we are rushing to take down our kite to avoid a collision between the two 18’s in front of us and a traditional 12 meter America’s Cup boat. All three of us were on starboard and the 12 meter was on port. The 12 meter had literally ‘t-boned’ the 18 to the extent of breaking its wing in half. After this near-miss we had to bare-away to the start line. I underestimated the amount of breeze during this bare-away and I put us in the drink. In this maneuver I sent Christine flying through the main sail and ended up with a Christine size whole in the main. This prestart maneuver did not allow us to race the one race that day.

    The rest of the regatta race days included Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday (February 15-24). Monday and Friday were set aside as lay days. Everyday racing got better and maneuvers go easier, however local knowledge was paramount for this regatta. There were some races that we would be doing well, then we would make one wrong tack and be looking at the entire fleet in front of us.

    All sailing photos © Frank Quealy /Autralian 18 Footers League

    The weather forecast was not looking too promising for the rest of the week. Twenty-five to thirty, to puffs of forty knots were forecasted for the tail end of the regatta. When the weather allowed us to put up our two rig we felt much better in the boat. The number two rig is the rig that we have primarily practiced with so we felt fast and confident with this set up. By the middle of the week CC was learning the 18 quickly, the rig was properly tuned, and we were getting around the course efficiently. Throughout the regatta we had no problem with downwind speed and tactics. Downwind is where we made the most gains, passes, and of course had the best rides.

    By 10:00 in the morning on Saturday the Farr40, Lasers, 16 footers, and various other races had been cancelled due to high winds. With the high stakes of cancelling an 18 race, the race committee was not geared toward cancelling for the day. The entire fleet continued to rig in stormy cyclonic weather. The race committee postponed on land as long as they could, but finally cancelled racing around 5:00 p.m. Sunday was not looking much better, but there were two ferries scheduled to watch the final day of racing. Only 20 of 31 boats attempted to go out on Sunday. Christine is starting a 49er FX campaign and did not want to compromise an injury for her upcoming European regattas. With that said, we were all watching from the ferry.

    The JJ’s are over and I can say that my goals of competing as the first all-female team in the U.S. and now to be the first all-female team to compete in the JJ’s has been achieved. I would like to congratulate Alex South, and her team Lomax to take on the all-female challenge. These girls took on the entire season and shared the title of being the first all-female competitors at the JJ’s. There were many odds against us going into this regatta: Emma breaking her leg, funding not all together, the late arrival of the boat, Christine flying through the main, and all other small random issues. At the end of the day all these small issues are suppressed because of the awesome rides and sense of accomplishment. To be able to practice, raise money, rig the boat alone, plan logistics, and get my team all the way around the world to compete as the first all-female team at the JJ Giltinan 18 Foot Skiff World Championship was such an honor.

    Over the year we received help from friends, family, The Skiff Sailing Foundation, Richmond Yacht Club Foundation, St. Francis Yacht Club, and the Belvedere Cove Foundation. Without the help of our supporters, Woody, Frank, and the 18 league we could not have accomplished this amazing dream.

    They call Syndey a ‘skiffies’ paridise and I proved that theory by sailing a race on a 16 footer, 18 footer, a traditional 18 footer, as well as some big boats. If there is something that you want to sail on, I’m sure you could find it in Sydney. This next year is going to be exciting for 18 sailing. The annual San Francisco 18 event will encompass the two oldest traditions of sailing by racing the 18’s during the America’s Cup Finals. After that I am hoping to spend the season down in Australia racing 18’s in preparation for next years’ JJ’s.

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  • #2
    Where are my "angels"?