Well I'm home early from the Holland regatta. I was a little sick before I traveled to the Netherlands last week, and I don't think travelling helped my cause as I got a lot sicker once there. I was able to practice a few days, but also spent a couple days lying in bed recovering. With the forecast for 20-30 knots and colder temps, and with no sign of my health improving, I flew home early to see some doctors and to get healthier.
I'm pretty bummed out that I couldn't stay for the regatta, but it's better that this happens now than two years from now when the racing really counts. I'm back home now getting some rest and then I'll start to train for the North Americans next month in Ontario.
There are 26 Americans sailing all different classes at the Delta Lloyd regatta, a pretty large turnout this time. You can follow results here.
I arrived in Medemblik, Netherlands, for the fifth leg of the ISAF World Cup. The Delta Lloyd Regatta starts on the 27th, so I'm here a few days early to train and get acclimated to the conditions.
The trip over went pretty smoothly. I took an overnight flight from Newark to Amsterdam. USSTAG member Trevor Moore met me in the airport, and we jumped on a train to the city of Hoorn. In Hoorn, we grabbed a bus to Medemblik. Then we walked about a mile to our bungalow. I'm staying in a bungalow with Trevor and his skipper, Chris Rast, Erin Maxwell and Isabell Kinsolving, and coach Mark Ivey. What's great is that right across the street from the yacht club is a huge bungalow park where lots of sailors tend to stay. It's very convenient.
Yesterday afternoon, my boat arrived, and I went down to the club to unload it and get things ready for a practice today. So far, the weather has been pretty warm and sunny. I'm very content with the weather we've been having since I've heard horror stories of having to sail out for over an hour in 45 degree weather and rain. Sounds cold.
Stay tuned for more updates throughout the week as the regatta approaches.
Since returning to the United States, I've spent the last two weekends umpiring at college regattas. The first weekend (May 2-3) I spent in Boston for the college semi-finals. Last year, the qualifying system for the College Nationals was drastically changed with the advent of a "semi-finals." 36 schools, each of which had to qualify through its respective district, are divided into one of two semi-finals: an "Eastern" and a "Western." Normally, these two semi-finals are spread out across the country, but this year, BOTH semi-finals were held in Boston in conjunction with the Volvo Ocean Race stopover. The result was an awesome scene for both college sailing and sailing in general.
Harvard and MIT co-hosted the regatta and ran the races on Boston Harbor out of Fan Pier. As you can see in the picture, MIT has some colorful new sails that will be great for team racing. The racing was right next to the city-front.
Puma, a sponsor of one of the VOR boats also got involved, creating a "Puma Village" inside the comlex. There were sailing simulators, a grinding competition, and all the VOR boats in the park. It was really a cool scene and something I'm glad I could be a part of.
Last weekend, I judged the New England Team Racing qualifiers at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island. NEISA is one of the most competitve districts, especially when it comes to team racing, so it was really cool to watch and judge as the top 12 teams battled it out for the three berths at Nationals later this month in San Francisco.
I'm home now for one more week before heading over to Medemblik, Netherlands, next Tuesday. There, I'll train for a week and sail in the Holland Regatta at the end of the month. While I've enjoyed judging the past two weekends, I'm excited to get back over to Europe and sail in my next event.
Recently, I've had a few requests for some rigging photos. So I took some pictures of my boat and different control lines to give you guys an idea of how I set my boat up. Check out the pictures and explanations in the photo album. I use the Colie Sails' "Mojo" system, which I find to work really well.
I welcome any comments or new ideas if you think you have a better way!
Today was the last day of racing in Hyeres...and it was CRAZY. We went down to the yacht club at our normal time today and, again, sat on shore postponed for a while to wait for breeze. At about 12 o'clock, a nice breeze filled and we were quickly sent out to our course. Once we got there, we sat through many general recalls, abandoned races, and postponements before we started racing. The reason we did this was because our course was between two fighting breezes and, to make matters worse, was right behind a big mountain! To say it was shifty would be an understatement!
Our race finally started at about 2:30. Get this, when we started our first race boats were overlaying the windward mark on starboard from the committee boat AND overlaying the windward mark from the pin on port! Brad Funk, the other American Laser sailor, had an awesome start on port at the pin in his own personal puff. Luther Carpenter, our coach, made the observation that 20 seconds into the race Brad already had a 2 minute lead on the fleet! He really timed it well!
I, however, did not time it well. I was in the middle of the line trying to get to the pin end when the gun went off. While Brad had his own puff, I had my own personal wind vaccuum; I sat with the boom in the middle of the boat trying to get to some pressure! Needless to say, the first race didn't go that well. I ended up 42nd!
After laughing off the first race, I quickly got ready for the final race of the regatta. The next race was quite shifty like the first. I had a good start in the middle of the line and played the middle right. At different points on the beat, I was anywhere from 3rd to 25th! I rounded in the mid teens and picked off a few boats throughout the rest of the race to get to 14th. It was another crazy race!
So overall, I was 5th in silver fleet, or 52nd overall. This regatta was particularly tough to swallow. I definitely sailed well at times, but I had too many bad breaks. One thing I want to focus on is the need to balance sailing conservatively with taking some more risks. In a strong fleet like the laser class, that balance is really important. But it's so hard to find! When do you take a risk and dig in deeper to your side and when do you conservatively play the shifts and try to pick off boats one at a time? That's one skill that can always be improved.
Overall, my European trip has been really rewarding. I've been here for exactly one month, and I've sailed in two really competitive regattas against some of the best sailors in the world. I've had some good training sessions and awesome bike rides. And I've been able to travel through Spain and France with some close friends. It's been a great experience.
The plan now is to come home on Saturday and relax for a bit. I'll be umpiring some college regattas and getting ready for the next World Cup Event in Medemblik, Netherlands, in the middle of May.
I had two awesome races today on the penultimate day of the Semaine Olympique Regatta in Hyeres, France! The conditions today were very similar to yesterday: we went down to the sailing center and waited around for breeze in the morning, and, after a short postponement, we went out and sailed two races in 5-7 knots and flat water.
Today also marked the first day of the fleet splits. After a mediocre qualifying series, I sailed in silver fleet today. Fortunately, silver fleet is still quite competitive with a handful of Olympians and other top sailors, so the fleet is still pretty good.
The first race I had a really good start in the middle-boat third of the starting line. After sailing for a few hundred yards on starboard, I tacked and headed right for some nice right pressure. I pretty quickly established myself in the lead pack and was 4th at the weather mark. I passed one boat on the downwind leg and a second boat shortly after the leeward mark. The top of the second beat got quite shifty, and I was able to play some shifts and close the gap on the lead boat. I rounded the last windward mark and reach mark in second, but was able to sail around the leader half way down the last run. I rounded the leeward mark in first and reached in for a great first race win!
The second race was just as sweet. I got a good start a little closer to the committee boat and sailed in a big lift and pressure almost out to the port tack layline. I played a few shifts at the top and rounded third. I was able to pass the second place boat on the first downwind, and again, played some shifts really well to close the gap on the leader by the last windward mark. I followed the leader across the reach, and we raced for the final mark. About 75% of the way down I was pretty sure that I wasn't going to catch him, but right at the end I got some nice pressure and rode a good by-the-lee angle into the mark and in front! I rounded the mark again in first and reached to the finish line for another win!
I was really excited about the racing today. While I'm obviously bummed that I didn't make gold fleet, I'm trying to get some good practice in the silver fleet racing and two first place finishes feels good. What I was even more pleased with was how I won the races. I didn't do it by taking big risks and going for horizon jobs. I was able to sail conservatively and chip away at the people ahead of me when the time was right. That truly is the end goal: having good starts, sailing conservatively, and then waiting for the opportunities to present themselves to pass the boats in front of you. So I was pleased with my decision making today.
Two more races are scheduled for tomorrow, the last day of sailing for my month long trip to Europe. Results
Today was the third day of racing--and the final day of qualifying-- at the Semaine Olympique Regatta in Hyeres, France. We headed down to the sailing center at 10 AM again, but there was not a breath of air on the water. We sat in the boat park and waited until just after noon for a 5-7 knot breeze to fill in from the west.
I was in Blue fleet today, which meant that I was the second start and sailed an inner loop. The breeze was pretty steady as far as velocity was concerned, but it oscillated pretty consistently and was very shifty at the top of our beat (our weather mark was, again, just off shore). Racing today was tough, as everyone in the fleet was going pretty much the same speed; if you couldn't get off the line well and sail your own race, you were left to be dictated by others in the fleet.
The first race of the day went really well. The committee boat and right hand side of the course were both pretty favored, so there was a lot of pressure to start near the boat and quickly tack. I executed my first beat game plan perfectly: I got a good start a little bit down from the committee boat to avoid the congestion, tacked into a nice lane, and headed to the right looking for a good angle to come back to the mark. I concentrated on sailing the boat really flat today in the flat water and light conditions and, coupled with a good sail setup, it helped my speed and pointing relative to the fleet. I rounded the weather mark in first and extended a little on the downwind. On the second beat I was able to hedge my nearest competitors away from the right hand side and made a comfortable lead for myself at the next mark. I had a little bit of a scare on the last downwind when the breeze died and the fleet spread out behind me, but I was able to get to the leeward mark in first and reach in for a win. It felt good to pull off a wire-to-wire win in the tough fleet and tricky conditions!
Race two was sailed in very similar conditions. This time, though, I didn't have as good a start and was forced to survive in some pretty tight lanes. Just like in the first race, there was a premium on being able to sail your own race, and I never really got out enough to do my own thing. The mark roundings in the second race were ridiculously crowded too. At both leeward marks, boats 5th-40th arrived right at once! I missed a few opportunities to pass big packs of boats and settled for a 24th in the race.
I moved up another 30 spots today, but unfortunately ran out of qualifying days to get into gold fleet. For the rest of the regatta I will be in silver fleet. While I'm obviously bummed out that I won't be racing in gold, there are still going to be good things to take away from the last two days. Silver fleet is going to be pretty tough since many good sailors also had a rough qualifying series and didn't make the cut. For example, American Brad Funk, Tom Slingsby (reigning 2x world champion), and a few other Olympians join me in silver. So hopefully we'll get a few more good races to work on some things and take away some lessons.
Two more days of racing are left and the forecast is calling for more light air. Results can be found here.
Day two of the Semaine Olympique Regatta in Hyeres, France, wasn't much better than the first day. We started on time today in more light air and choppy conditions. The breeze was pretty patchy, and to make things worse, it was raining so it was tough to read. I was in red fleet again, which meant that I started third.
In the first race, I had a bad start at the boat and headed right searching for a clean lane. At times I looked ok coming back to the middle, but at the top of the beat the left came in and I struggled to make it back to the mark. I picked up a few boats over the course of the race, but was never able to put together a big rally. I finished 26th in the first race.
The second race was sailed in similar conditions. I had a pretty good start near the boat end of the line and tacked towards the right. I quickly established myself in the top group, but had a little bit of bad luck with my positioning and got pin-balled around a little bit. I worked the middle of the course, but both sides got pressure late and converged ahead of everyone in the middle. At the windward mark, I was in about 25th place. On the first downwind, I was able to catch a few boats. I rounded the leeward mark and headed out to the left. About half way up, the breeze shifted about 30 degrees left, and I began to wind up off the fleet. I was hoping I would get a little pay back for all the bad luck I've been having! It turns out I wasn't quite risky enough. A few of the guys I let get further left of me got their own personal puff and reached into the weather mark in a comfortable top 5 position. And many of the guys who were ahead of me were just able to maintain their lead. I still made some gains, rounding the weather mark in about 14th. I held my position for the rest of the race and finished 14th in race 2.
So far the racing hasn't been going that well. One look at the scores will tell you difficult the breeze is. It's been pretty light, very choppy, and very patchy out there. If there's one lesson I've learned about Hyeres so far, it's that it pays to be a little greedy. I think my mistakes have come from being too conservative at times. For the rest of the regatta I'm going to focus on being aggressive at the start and working my side of the course hard before consolidating in front of people. We'll see how it turns out.
One more day of qualifying left before the split into Gold-Silver-Bronze fleets. Hopefully I can move up a little with two good races tomorrow.
Today was the first day of racing at the Semaine Olympique Regatta in Hyeres, France, and it was a rough one! I got to the sailing center a little early to finish up some work on my bailer (there was a little lip on my bailer, so coach Luther Carpenter and I sanded it down and siliconed it on to the boat! Fast!). Fortunately there wasn't much breeze in the morning, so we weren't too rushed. We ended up sitting on shore until about 12:15 when the AP flag came down and we were sent out. The cool thing about this venue is that there are a bunch of cafes and bakeries lining the boat park. So any time spent on shore is pretty comfortable!
There are 150 boats here, and we were divided into three fleets for qualifying. I was in Red fleet today, which means that I was the third start. At 1:15, the Yellow fleet started there 1st sequence. After five general recalls, they finally got a light air, drifter race in! Blue and Red fleets sat and watched. We sat around for a few hours as the breeze dropped out completely and shifted hard right and off-shore.
At 4:45 Blue fleet started it's first race, and at about 5:10, my fleet finally got under way! I knew that the patchy, 1-4 knot breeze was going to be quite shifty, so I wanted to get a good start and then be pretty conservative on the beat. I ended up having an awesome start towards the boat end of the line and played the middle right-hand side of the course up the beat. I was in the top group with three other guys. Just before the mark, a big lefty streak came down and a few boats passed me, but I was still in 8th at the windward mark. I stayed in 8th on the reach leg and actually caught up to a solid 5th place on the downwind leg. About 80% down the run though, the breeze around me died and shifted around, allowing all the boats behind and to leeward to ride some pressure into the leeward mark. Boats placed 5th-40th arrived all at once!
After the chaotic mark rounding, I came out of the leeward mark in about 25th place. The next beat was a port tack parade to the windward mark. On the final downwind, I just missed passing a group of about 8 boats by about 2 feet at the mark. I gybed on the outside of the group and headed towards the finish in 29th place.
It was a tough first race, especially because I thought I had a great start and sailed a good, conservative first beat. I stuck to my plan, and for the most part, it panned out well. It was frustrating, but I guess that's sailboat racing sometimes!
So after race 1, the race committee decided that we had to have our 2nd scheduled race of the day. Just after 7 PM, we finally started our 2nd race! Well, starting is all I did because I started over the line. We had one general recall under a black flag start, and my number was posted on the board as being black-flagged and disqualified from the race. I guess the only consellation was that I could head in and didn't have to wait until 9 PM to get ashore, but it was a bummer.
So it was a tough start to my regatta. The good news is that with 9 races, we get 2 drops. So I'm not completely out of it. The potentially troublesome news is that there will be a fleet split after 6 races, so I need to have some good finishes the next couple of days to ensure that I get into gold fleet! Tomorrow it's supposed to rain and be light air again. We have a 12 o'clock start with 2 more races planned.
Results can be found here, but they don't look pretty....
I arrived in Hyeres yesterday afternoon for the Semaine Olympique Regatta that starts on Sunday. After my regatta ended in Palma, I stayed for a few extra days with Nick Thompson (GBR) and James Espey (IRL) to cycle and take a few days off from sailing. The cycling was awesome. I have more respect than ever for professional cyclists. Imagine climbing up mountains for over an hour with no flat spots or downhills portions! Then, just when I was relieved to get to the top, I have to cruise downhill at 35 mph (squeezing the breaks the whole time) around windy roads. It was intense, but very good for me.
On Tuesday night, the three of us loaded all of our gear, boats, bikes, and clothes into the van and took the 12 AM overnight ferry from Palma to Barcelona. Once in Barcelona, we drove the 7 hours to Hyeres. The drive was pretty scenic and uneventful--apart from being pulled over asked for all of our papers as we crossed the border from Spain into France.
Hyeres is pretty nice. I'm staying at a house with some fellow Americans, so it's nice to have some company. The house is gorgeous and right on the water; it's only a 10 minute walk to the sailing site too. Last night, Stu McNay's mom, Beth, made a fabulous home-cooked meal for all of us! It was delicious and certainly what I needed.
The plan is to sail today and tomorrow, and then I'll probably take Saturday off. The regatta starts on Sunday, and just like in Palma, we will have qualifying on Sunday-Monday-Tuesday, followed by Gold/Silver fleet races on Wednesday-Thursday, and a medal race on Friday.