When I was called up to the podium at the awards ceremony in La Ventana, Robbie Dean handed me the mic and asked, “How did you do it?” All I managed to say was “I don’t know, I came to have fun and race and that’s what I did.” I almost started to cry of happiness. I reflected on the experience later and figured it out. This is how I did it.
We arrived in La Ventana the day before the event started. My dad, Mike Zajicek, Erika Heineken, Joey Pasquali and I piled into a shuttle van with enormous board bags full of gear. In the end, there was “all kinds of room”.
I took the first day of the event one race at a time. On the starting line, there were 43 kiters, representing 15 countries. Only 6 women. At the end of the day, I surprised myself by placing first in the female category. We did 3 races that day. Towards the end, the wind got light, and only 13 people finished the last race.
The second day, exhausted, I was overpowered on my 12 Chrono for the first 3 races. I chose the kite knowing that, trying to be competitive with the rest of the fleet. I was struggling to go upwind so overpowered, so I switched to an 11 Edge for the last race. I have a very competitive downwind speed and angle, so it’s good for me to be powered on the downwind leg of the race. But then my upwind struggles. That night, Joey Pasquali gave me advice on going upwind overpowered.
The third day was the first day of medal racing, which is when the fleet splits into Gold Fleet and Silver Fleet. I ended up in Silver with the rest of the girls and was able to put Joey’s words into action. I took my 12 Chrono, powered, and went all out on the upwind angle. I had good starts that day, and a better upwind leg. On the final race of that day, I finished 4th – my best finish in the whole regatta.
Second day of medal racing, Chip Wasson let me borrow his 9 meter Chrono (by the way, thank you to Chip for slicing your hand and not being able to race so that I could use that kite). It was much windier than the past few days and the 9 was perfect for that day. I was not overpowered, still had a very powerful downwind, and was pointing high on the upwind. The first two races were solid. The second was my favorite because I had an insanely close finish with Erika Heineken. After we both had a couple wipeouts on the downwind, we went through the finish line less than a second apart. On the next two races, I focused on getting a good start, and going all out on the downwind. Erika and I had another couple close ones, and I learned a lot from those races.
The final day, Silver fleet was going to do two races but the second was abandoned mid-race because of no wind. I was underpowered the whole race on my 12 Chrono. I was still able to finish one place behind Erika. Matt Taggart let me borrow a 15 R1 for the next race, but that’s when the wind died and we all got rescued.
The awards ceremony was that night. I finished second in women’s, and seventh overall in Silver Fleet.
I want to thank everyone who made this possible and supported the event. Thanks to the Withington family and Playa Central, the IKA, and all of the contributors in La Ventana. And oh my- Robby Dean! You are the man. The best events are always the incredible work of Robby Dean and Jessica Barhydt. Big shoutout to them. The event would not have been the same without them.
And of course, thanks to Michael Petrikov for taking some amazing pictures. We’ll miss you in SF.
A huge thanks to my sponsors: Ozone (Matt Taggart) – thanks for all the apparel and the kites. I am super excited for more experience with the entire Ozone team (the best team!), and I am super lucky to be a part of it. Thanks to F4 (Chris Radkowski, Al Mirell, Chip Wasson) for the foil. This was my first regatta on an F4 foil, and I could not be happier with the setup. Thanks to Ronstan (Alan Prussia) for the watch, which is super simple and user-friendly. I use it all the time on and off the course. Huge thanks to Mike’sLab (Mike Zajicek) for the beautiful board and all the help on the beach with the boards and foils. I really appreciate all the help. Thanks to the KiteBar (Nick Levi and Eugenia Gueorguieva) for the kites and fun sessions at Spinner. Super excited for more of those this summer! Thanks to the St Francis Yacht Club and the St Francis Sailing Foundation for the support.
A big shoutout to Michael Gebhardt (Coach Gebi) for all the clinics with the team on the bay. I have learned so much from you over the years and am super lucky to have you as a coach.
Also, last but not least, I want to thank my amazing parents for letting me go on this trip. It was so worth it, and I am so lucky to have been able to go. Thanks to my dad for coming with me and helping me on the beach. Thanks to my mom for cheering for me back at home and for letting me go to compete and miss a week of school.
I learned so much from this experience from everyone on and off the race course, and I can not wait to see you all again in San Francisco!