X Boat champion Kamron Kaiser and crew Peter Goggins won a hard-fought 2021 senior X boat Inland Lake Yachting Association (ILYA) regatta at Pewaukee Lake, WI. He has performed consistently well in the X boat over the past few years, winning the 2021 Wisconsin Yachting Association regatta, the 2021 Geneva Lake Sailing School regatta, the 2020 ILYA junior X boat championship, and the 2019 Xtreme regatta.
Kamron graciously agreed to share his thoughts on questions we supplied.
Tell us what boats have you been sailing, other than the X boat.
I started my sailing career in an Opti which slowly transitioned to an Open Bic. The Opti was a great starter boat, but I didn’t have as much fun as I wanted. The Bic was a great, faster, and more enjoyable boat. During this time I crewed on an X boat. I also crewed on an MC with my dad starting in 2013 until 2016. Since then, I have bounced around crewing on MCs, C boats, and E boats. I sailed Lasers for a couple years, but it wasn’t as fun as I hoped. Just this year, I also started skipping an M17. I’m still sailing a lot and the experience at different lakes, different conditions, and different people is tremendous.
You do a lot of sailing with your family. How has that helped you?
From 2013 to 2016 I crewed on an MC with my dad. Those years were the building blocks for my sailing knowledge. Both of my parents are outstanding sailors, and my dad taught me all the tips and tricks on how to make the boat go fast, and the smaller, but important tactical details. I was eager and ready to learn, so I took in everything that I could.
My parents and older brother have coached me for my whole life. Most of the time, it has been very influential, and we would all talk about the race after. The worst part at the time but the best part looking back was how honest and critical my family was. They gave me the hard truth of how I sailed, and that motivated me to improve and perform to my best. Even after my success early this season, I continued to work hard and perform to the best of my ability.
What are two or three important things you’ve improved on this year?
A key improvement of mine was boatspeed. I have always struggled to maintain the same speed as others while maintaining the same angle. I realized that I was a little heavier than most, and it might just have been how my boat was tuned, but I adjusted. Most competitors were able to have a better angle, but I had more boatspeed. In the heavier breeze, I could stay with everyone a little more compared to the lighter breeze, but I always headed down to achieve speed over angle no matter what my competition valued. I learned this with practice and help from parents and coaches. This allowed me to sail my own race and beat everyone using tactics, as opposed to simply pointing higher.
Another key detail that most people might overlook is my connection with my crew. Everyone has their ups and downs with their crews, but it is how you react that makes the difference. My crew, Peter, is an outstanding sailor, friend, comedian, and person, but he taught me patience. Peter liked to talk and give his opinion which contradicted my usual silence on the boat. I learned to accept his style and meet half-way in the middle. This was very hard for me, but in the end it created a stronger bond with each other. Through this experience he learned to gain more and more trust in me as a skipper and person. Since we were a team on the same page, Peter came through in all of the tough moments throughout the regatta
What did you focus on for success in this regatta?
Before every regatta, I would make a goal for myself. Early on in my X boat career, I would aim for the top half of the fleet for my first Inland on Delavan in 2017. I gradually improved, thus my goal was set higher. Top twenty was a goal for some regattas which then improved to top 15. This was a big goal for me at the 2018 Inland. Since the top 15 received a trophy, I was eager to achieve it. That year I placed 13th which was very exciting for me. I was one of the last boats to qualify for the Blue Chip.
From there, the sky was the limit for me. I had a feeling that there was a lot more potential for success. The next Inland in 2019 at Minnetonka, I placed a hard-fought 7th place against some tough competition. (I was 13 at the time). The next year, 2020, I knew that many competitors moved to the Senior fleet, and I had a good chance of winning. I went into the 2020 Inland with a confident mindset. After a tough first race but lots of support from friends and family, I believed that I could win. Sure enough, I won my first Inland. My confidence has come a long way.
For the 2021 Inland, I was feeling very confident, but I knew that there was going to be tough competition. Since I already won the WYA and GLSS earlier in the year, I knew that I am able to, and have already beaten everyone competing. I never let my confidence grow too much, but it fueled my performance and results followed.
Discuss some key situations in the regatta that made a big difference
There were a few key situations that made a crucial difference in my results.
1. Building confidence early
In both of my Inland victories (2020 and 2021), I started the regatta with my worst race. After both of those races, I knew that I had to bounce back and move on because there were plenty of races left to do well. I was very discouraged after my 11th place in the first race. I lost almost all hope of doing well in the regatta. Luckily, everyone around me (friends and family) lifted me up and boosted my confidence for the next race.
The second race, I rounded the first mark in the low teens. The next upwind something clicked in my head, and my confidence grew and my sailing showed it. V61 and X31 were at least ¼ of a leg ahead of third place. I sailed one of the best upwinds, and I rounded third right behind X31. I eventually caught the V61 and almost the X31. That 2nd place raised my spirits and my self-confidence.
Everyone knows that when you have a good start in a race, you are setting yourself up for success. It is very hard to place well in a race when you have a bad start. Throughout my X boat career, I have been known for a bad first upwind. Then, I proceed to grind back to the top. Starting behind is nothing new to me, but I always put myself at a disadvantage which creates a very difficult race for myself.
The third race of the regatta, I was caught in the 4th row. That was one of my worst starts of the year. I have been caught in the back many times, but not like this especially in a large fleet. My next upwind was incredible compared to my horrendous start. I sailed up the left side of the course which placed me in the top 5. My next upwind I sailed up the left side again which gained me the lead. By the leeward mark I had over a minute lead. This is a great example of the corny, but yet very factual phrase of “When you fall, you have two options! You either stay down or get back up and work harder!”(Will Smith).
3. Battling to the End
The last race was the hardest race for me in the regatta. The wind was very light and shifty. I rounded the first mark in the teens, but I knew that I had to either beat X31 by two points that race, or place 4th or better. I slowly worked my way up to top ten. At the last leeward mark rounding, I had at least a minute to make up to reach the 4th place boat. The leaders went to the left side, and I went to the wind on the right. A righty came in, and I sailed directly up the course. I made up a lot of ground, and finished ¼ of a boat length behind 3rd place. That was a comeback that I will never forget which led me to beating X31 by one point in the regatta.