Sailing: Smith, Davidson earn U.S. junior women's doublehanded crown

CORONA DEL MAR — Amid their celebratory dip into Newport Harbor, there were tears of joy for Carolyn Smith and Bayley Davidson.

Who could blame the recent Newport Harbor High graduates for crying. They will admit, they couldn't have written a better story with such a fantastic ending.

Last year, the sailing duo finished second in the U.S. Junior Women's Doublehanded Championship, missing out on the top spot by one point.

This year, they felt pressure with the regatta coming to their "home," with Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club acting as host.

"It was, like, haunting us," said Davidson, a Balboa Yacht Club member.

"The fact that it was here, we had everyone coming up to us going, 'So are you going to win it this year?' " said Smith, a Newport Harbor Yacht Club member.

The answer to that question would be a resounding "Yes."

Smith, the skipper, and Davidson, crew, captured the Ida Lewis Trophy for winning the U.S. Junior Women's Doublehanded Championship Thursday. The local duo didn't win any of the 10 races during the three days of competition, but they were steady throughout and won with 42 points.

Cassie Obel and Annika Garrett of Del Rey Yacht Club came in second with 50 points, and Elena Vandenberg and Lilia Salvesen of Annapolis Yacht Club took third with 50 points.

Smith and Davidson nearly won race No. 9, but settled for second. They had led throughout the roughly half-mile course, but Vandenberg and Salvesen swooped in at the end to grab the first-place point.

Four races took place Thursday amid 6-8 knots. The four races were rather intense as each start led to a "black flag race." The black flag is a penalty dealt when sailors start too early and the race requires a restart. Start too early again after the black flag and you're disqualified.

"The girls were all aggressive," said Mark Foster, a US Sailing race officer. "They all want to get a good start and they all want to get a little bit of an edge. The first two days we had current and wind holding them back [at the start] and the last day the current kind of shifted and didn't hold them as much. They were all an aggressive group."

Four boats were disqualified from race No. 9, the third race of the day. Then 13 boats were sent back to the dock in the final race after the black flag, Foster said.

Smith and Davidson thought they had started too early after the black flag on race No. 9.

"The whole race we were stressed out, but the whole race we tried not to show it," Davidson said. "We took deep breaths. You could hear our breaths. We were freaking out. But we just tried to stay calm."

Both Smith and Davidson said it helped to be so close to home for the regatta. They had also received good training, as they had been mostly racing in club 420s throughout the past three months.

They helped the Newport Harbor High sailing team finish 12th in the nation.

Smith, who was also a key contributor for the Newport Harbor girls' water polo team that won the Sunset League championship, will continue sailing at St. Mary's College of Maryland.

Davidson will sail for College of Charleston in South Carolina.

They shared several hugs and posed for photos Thursday at BCYC. They had a sensational final day of racing, earning a second place, a third and two fourth-place finishes.

"This feels amazing," Davidson said.

"Put it this way, when we found out we won we both started crying," Smith said.

The two have been sailing together since they were in seventh grade. They said this was their biggest win and to have it at home made it more exciting.

"We wanted to win with a bang," Davidson said, referring to the fact they have aged out of junior sailing with this regatta.

There were 39 boats (78 sailors) in the regatta. Clare Dahl and Chloe Dapp of Newport Harbor Yacht Club were the next highest local finishers, coming in 12th with 117 points.

Lea Russell and Victoria Lewis of Balboa Yacht Club were 13th (119 points).

Simone Staff (California Yacht Club) and Alexandria Ivory (Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club) finished 14th (124 points).

Newport Harbor Yacht Club's Kate Madigan and Katie Calder were 21st (177 points).

Shannon Morris and Holly McNamee of BHYC were 35th (272 points) and Madeline Bubb (BYC) and Eliza Moody (NHYC) finished 37th (311 points).

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