29er Worlds Hong Kong Report

I didn’t have the time to write a short debrief, so I wrote you a long one.

WHAT TO LEARN FROM INTERNATIONAL FLEET

Once back to shore after the first day of racing, I asked a few kiwis in the elevator how their day went? “I dunno, I think it went pretty good,” answered the crew. He then looked at his skipper and cracked a smile. I could tell he was either being modest or he thought my question was silly. He felt proud of his effort that day, and being asked to qualify and summarize the day’s racing was clearly something to snicker at.

I noticed last week that the Kiwi’s and Aussie don’t ask each other “How did you do?” after sailing. Instead they frame the question a little differently, “How’d you go?”

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SHIFT THE FOCUS | What You Control

This phrase “How’d you go?” shifts the focus of the question from the final result to the entire experience. The importance of a day’s sail is not the score that’s posted on the notice board. The importance of the day is the step by step process each athlete endures. It’s the accumulation of all the small challenges and lessons along the way. Every decision made.

We can’t control the scores. We think we can but we can’t. We can control our actions, our thoughts, and our behavior. We can control how we go through the regatta day. This is so much harder than it sounds. For an athlete to shift the focus from the final result to the entire experience demands that you show up every single second; to live and act in the present, rather than focusing on the finish line (or the score sheet).

Every second counts, every start, every leg, every race.  Every single grain of rice that fills the bowl must be perfect. When the emphasis is placed on each moment the results follow along. Only the most impactful and resounding lesson stick, the rest is fairy dust. Improvement sticks. Regret and failure stick. This is what we want: development propelled by experience.

Americans are obsessed with scores. Before we’re even out of wetsuits we’re on the phone checking the numbers. But the truth is that results only show a fraction of what happened on the race. What’s more important is to…

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Trust the Process” is something Leandro said on our skype call before the regatta. This became our breakfast meeting mantra. It was our team’s goal to be the country that learned the most during this event. I believe we accomplished that. I believe that our team is wiser after our trip. This regatta tested the way we think about what sailing a regatta requires. And after 9 days on the water, we know that simplicity wins the day. Simplicity is the ability to minimize distractions and focus on the important factors that make up a successful race.

ABOUT WEATHER PREP| Clouds & Rocks

Our legendary boat captain Howie is Hong Kongese. He lives in the New Territories and works on the waters of South Eastern Hong Kong. Howie teaches sailing, works as race committee, and teaches power boat courses. He’s a local. The first day we raced, we were in Stanley Bay (race course C). On the way out Howie talked to me about racing in that area and how tricky the wind can be. After some basic observation and research about the forecast and trend, we had the race course dialed. These were my predictions:

Chum Hum Kok point on the left would create a line of convergence under the cliff. The wind would be stronger and more from left under the rocks.

In the center of the bay, at the windward mark, the breeze would center up to the course axis (farther right from the convergent breeze direction) so boats crossing from the left would be headed back to the mark.

At the top right there were “hand of God” puffs of up to 30 knots coming down from Stanley peninsula. If it was sunny, the warm air (rises) lifted the wind higher and it touched down farther down the course. Cloud cover (cold sinking air) over the peninsula brought down blasts of pressure. If you could gybe set under a cloud into one of these divine puffs and then gybe back into the line of convergence you would slingshot ahead of the fleet .

This was our track.

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Howie said to me after race 2 on Stanley Bay, “This is your first trip to Hong Kong? How do you understand Stanley Bay so well? How can I learn what you know?”

I know what key characteristics impact and change the wind and weather. I need to know this because it’s my job. And it’s the job of every sailor to understand wind characteristics.

It sounds like I’m bragging on myself but I’m not. I’m a weather nerd.  “I love the fucking weather,” is something my wife (the poet) wrote in her first book. In this way our hearts are one.  I know weather like some people know football stats, or can debate the law, or remember genus species names for flora.

We work in a volatile environment. If we understand the characteristics that impact the behavior of the wind then we can predict the high percentage pattern on the race track. Will we be right 100% of the time? No. But we’ll get it right more than 75% of the time, and we’ll sure as hell be on the lookout for changes ahead (if the sun comes out or clouds roll in).

We don’t talk about weather enough in the states. Or at least in all the sailing programs I’ve been involved in since I was a guppy. Even though I have received outstanding coaching, my coaches didn’t know shit about forecasting. I have devoted the past three years of my professional development to understanding weather. There are two books I strongly recommend you read if you want to be competitive in sailing: David Houghton & Fiona Campbell’s “Wind Strategy” and Frank Bethwaite’s “High Performance Sailing.” As you prepare for future events remember, “Every cloud tells a story and every rock creates a wind shift.”

The geographic features of the Chum Hum Kok and Stanley Peninsula as well as Beaufort and Po Toi Islands (not to mention tidal current) were the most significant factors of the regatta. And the entire fleet was switched on to it. Which means understanding convergence and divergence is something that is a basic foundation around the world. But I would bet money that no-one is having these conversations in the green or red, white, and blue fleets in USODA. (Prove me wrong, boys and girls.)

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ROUTINE | Trust the Process

Kevin Burnam is a devotee of a regatta routine. I trust Kevin because his method has yielded two Olympic medals. Every year at the November ODP camp in Miami Kevin tells the story from the Athens Games:

“I laid my clothes out the night before. I ate at the same restaurant every day. I sat in the same seat and ordered the same meal every day. I got to the boat park at the same time. And we were the first boat on the water every day, and we would sail the entire race course before our competitors even got to the race course. I didn’t have to think about anything else but going fast. My mind was clear.”

Our team did an excellent job at our routine. And I’m happy to say we improved on it throughout the week. Remember that, have the discipline at your next regatta to establish and stick to a routine.

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ATTENTION TO DETAIL | Everything Breaks

I jumped in the water twice this regatta. Not for fun, but to help two teams re-thread a $7.00 plastic spreader tip back into place. The wind was gusting above 30knots. The swell was pushing us into the most active shipping channel in the world. This was not fun, but had to be done.

The boats had capsized for two reasons: 1) massive puffs and 2) to stop the sails from luffing between races. Sailors took a break by sitting; one on the daggerboard, the other on the mast. 2 meter swells caused the masts to flex under the water’s surface tension and pulled the spreaders clean out.

This was not a manufacturing issue. We failed to check our spreader tips when we got the boats. We trusted that someone else took care of it. The $7.00 plastic tips on the new masts are skinnier than the older ones. They fit better into the slot. This means that the pins don’t secure them as well. They pulled right out. Two of our US boats almost broke masts because of shitty piece of plastic.

When we got back to shore, the entire team flipped and replaced the tips with the older, sturdier spares. When we flipped Charlie and Nick’s boat we discovered their tip was a few millimeters away from pulling out.

Here’s the lesson: Rule number one – Trust No One. Survey and prepare all of your equipment. Every inch of the boat or you might end up getting run over by a barge.

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THE IMPORTANT STUFF

The 29er class, internationally, is a very friendly fleet. This being smaller World Championship regatta than our most previous one in Long Beach meant that sailors made friends quicker and easier. With the entire regatta staying at the same hotel, we shared taxi, bus, and ferry rides with competitors, parents and coaches. And we all had breakfast and often lunch with each other. Our English speaking friends from NZL, CAN, GBR, AUS, HKG, ISV brought our 29er class closer together and I’m sure many longstanding friendships were forged.

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THANK YOUS

The assistance US sailing provided our athletes by sending and housing me, your fearless and tireless leader, as well as organizing and partially subsidizing the boat charters provided an solid foundation to ensure the success of the US team. The efforts of Leandro Spina, Malcolm Page, Meredith Carroll and all the US Sailing staff who spent their time to organize our team’s arrangements is greatly appreciated. Perhaps the most impactful support we received from US Sailing came from our ace coach boat charter and the employment of our favorite “Head Coach Howie” who became our team’s favorite support staff.

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THANKS AGAIN

The Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club team certainly went above and beyond to host a spectacular regatta. To appreciate the logistics of the event (for those of you back home in the US) you’ll need to understand the geographic challenges of this venue. All the action of course took place on the water, but the boats, assets, people all had to make it to the regatta from a series of mountainous islands. The topographical spectacle that is Hong Kong Island is intrinsically challenging. The best made plans were mixed and amended as tipsy turvey as the wind coming from the cliffs. But all volunteers and regatta staff handled it with a smile. Thanks, of course, to Joan Mollerus and Julien and Nicki Bethwaite for their leadership.

Incredible amount of thanks for the support, patience, and assistance of all you parents. For those who traveled with the team to Hong Kong, your logistical support, energy, and emotional guidance was crucial to the success of our team. The expense of the Hong Kong regatta may have set you back a few pennies, and indeed we all wish we had put more racing on the water. But I think we can all agree that the experience of these particular Worlds could not be replicated. Our taxi cab rides, city outings, patience in the boat park and pizza express dinners rounded out this trip in a very special way.  Thanks to Anna Joslin, Stacia Lindsay, Ted Hibben, Robert Shelley, and James Hardy.

To the parents who sent your teenager globetrotting while you stayed home to pay for it all, I believe this event has impacted the life of your child in wonderful ways- Thanks to the Gramms, Mersons, Eastwoods. You will be glad to know that the conduct of your sailor was exceptional. On several occasions I was complimented by parents from other nations who remarked on the polite manner and good behavior of our team. Indeed we pumped the best music throughout the boat park, but it’s important to remember the weight USA team carries in an international setting. Our citizens are leaders throughout the world, and our athletes this trip represented the stars and stripes well. And many parents were eager to congratulate our sailor’s performance at the bar before closing ceremonies.

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Level Up: Stepping Into the 49erFX

Sailing at Oakcliff is like going to camp but in all the best possible ways. That is, if your summer camp had all the toys you ever wanted to play with and you actually got to play with them. Think Space Camp but rather than just look at the suits and ride the G-force simulator on low setting, you get to launch the rocket for a slingshot around the moon. I’ve had many summer days stuck inside a steamy cabin waiting for the rain to stop. At Oakcliff, when it rained we kept sailing.

Prompted by ODP and Leandro Spina, we pulled together a last minute trip with some of the country’s top youth talent to let them test their mettle in the 49erFX as part of Oakcliff’s Triple Crown Qualification Series. As soon as we got to the beach and peeled the covers off, the sailors were giddy with anticipation.

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The crew was hyped. The carbon FX mast takes time to get tuned up. The teens blasted music while setting pins and added turns to to find Paris and Helena’s “sweet spot” numbers from the Rio 2016 Olympics. Having that secret sauce added another level of froth to the sailor’s already bubbly mood. Top US boys 29er sailors Ripley Shelley and Severin Gramm (Miami, FL) couldn’t wait to get on the water. “Let’s just go out and figure it out. Do we have to wait for everyone else?

Brown student, Nathan Housberg, made the trip down from Newport to join Robyn Lesh , High Performance Fleet Manager at Oakcliff. Both sailors took the leap from the collegiate dinghy to the skiff and have been peppering in a fair bit of keel boat and match racing lately to pad their resumes.  NR Oak

Our first session on the water offered perfect skiff conditions: flat water and breeze 12-14 knots, shots building to the upper teens. After a few up/downs in Long Island Sound the entire fleet started to show signs of seasoned skiffies. Tacks began to smooth out with fast and flat exits and both helm and crew dropping to the wire simultaneously.

It’s built in the mission of Oakcliff to raise the caliber of sailing in the United States and they’re definitely on to something. The Oakcliff RC knew 6 was our magic number.  The fleet was wary. Maybe for keel boaters and other sit down sailors six races is adequate to get a nice sweat in and crack a few cold ones, but for skiffs six can quickly feel like four too many.

Here’s my debrief on races 1-6 on Saturday. R1-Drag Race. R2- Shit Show. R3- Start On Time. R4- We’re Really Racing. R5- Light Air Dinghy Racing. R6- Skiff Moding…We Made It!

For these new FX sailors, Saturday’s full set got all the wobbles out and we ended the day with plenty of lead changes and actual racing. It may have take a few to get there, but the sailors de-rigged in total confidence in their handling of the boat.

Opti All-Star and rising 29er skipper Bella Casaretto paired with 470 crew Ian MacDiarmid and the two quickly adapted to the dynamics of double trapping. Bella found a high mode that couldn’t be matched upwind, raising the level for all. Harry Melges IV and Finn Rowe (Lake Geneva, WI) put on a lake sailing 101 clinic on the final day of racing, as the wind died and shifted in patches off of the Sagamore Bluff in Cold Spring Harbor.HF UW

For our Miami based squad, we get too much of one condition. I notice that when the wind get’s mixed and spotty those who aren’t used to the variable breeze get lost. That was pretty obvious on Sunday once Harry Melges rounded mark 1 almost a minute ahead. The boys connected every dot and switchbacked their way up the course.
The RC team provided top notch structure and organization to the event. Ian, commented “I could focus on getting better at sailing the boat because the mark was always where it was supposed to be.”

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It’s a special experience to spend time in a new place with the purpose of sailing. And sailing only. All those walks down the street for ice cream or bagels paved deep connections and friendships among all the sailors, followed by YouTube videos and America’s Cup watching in the bunkhouse.

“Without Oakcliff I would never have gotten the chance to get in the skiff,” admits Housberg who has a full summer ahead of him between laying the tracks for a Marstrom 32 program and the 29er Worlds in Long Beach, California. And that sentiment of gratitude was shared by all. I can tell, because I watched them pack the boats away tired and full of both pride and appreciation.sr oak

A Baker’s Dozen

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That’s how this story begins. With thirteen sailors.

Athletes who came together because the allure of the skiff. Thirteen with different backgrounds and success stories in other boat classes. A group that filled their summer with layovers, highway miles and hours at sea. Sailors who competed at events like IODA Worlds, Kieler Woche, US Youth Champs, 29er Nationals, c420 Nationals, and more have banded together to push themselves and the status quo of youth sailing.
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This band of misfits strolled through the entrance of the US Sailing Center Miami toward water’s edge. Setting down their gear bags and stringing up the masts of the six high-powered sleds sitting beneath the flag pole. Like a pit of orchestral players tuning their instruments, rig tensions were set and sails hoisted. And the experiment began.
I have sought after the vision of this day for a year. Making phone calls, creating budgets, mapping regattas, and moving across the country to thread together the parties interested in the skiff. The biggest hurdle is creating an entry for sailors to try the boat. Lasers and 420s make sense. They are relatively inexpensive, easy to maintain and the path is clear. Sailors can connect the dots from point A to B.

Our goal is to create access to 29er sailing, offering try it out and drop in days for sailors to get a taste of the speed and excitement.

And also expand the regatta calendar to keep sailors hooked. This fall and leading into the spring we’ve got a local regatta series, including Naples Cup, Fall Ocean Regatta (MYC), and Open Orange Bowl. Along with MidWinter’s East after the new year and more in preparation for the 2017 29er Nationals and WORLDS in Long Beach, CA next summer. That’s all down the road.  img_7276
This past weekend was about gathering together and establishing a structure for development. We fleeted 6 skiffs, a new record for our Miami based squad.

From this “ground zero” we build the plan for the entire season. I can’t wait to see what evolves from the diligent effort of these athletes.

THE ICING ON THE CAKE was sitting in on a talk from jedi master, Ed Baird, during the radial youth worlds team clinic at Miami YC this Sunday. Ed shared some incredible words of wisdom. Here are some of my notes on his talk:
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Strategy Vs. Tactics: From pre-Start to 200 yard to top mark, sailor’s are in strategic sailing mode. “What’s the wind doing?, What side do I want to be on?, Where’s the next shift?”
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200 yards to Mark, switch to tactical mode. What do I need to do to beat the 3-5 boats closest to me? Who can I push out past layline? Or cover? Or control in starboard/port situation?
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Forecast & Plan Establish whether or not the breeze is “Stable” or “Unstable.” In stable breeze focus on finding clear air and maintain boat speed.  In unstable conditions stay lifted. Leverage positions with winds shifting 10-15+ degrees very costly or rewarding.
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Motivation Ed is involved in racing at the top of our sport. It takes big teams of numerous skilled people to execute successful TP52 and America’s Cup campaigns. Not everyone on these teams were great dinghy sailors or junior racers, some are great engineers or lawyers, but everyone has a skill and specific job they contribute to the team.
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Words of Wisdom Don’t be distracted by things that aren’t going to make you go faster.
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Stay tuned for more ahead….. to Infinity!

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Summer Campaign Parts 1.2.3.

The sailing I watched in the last three months has me very excited for the next generation of top notch athletes who will (soon enough, if not already) represent the USA on the world stage.

The heart and soul of my summer campaign was what I am calling “A Three part New England Club420 Crusade of Pain” that included Nationals in Falmouth, Hyannis Regatta, then to Buzzards Bay (in the City that Lit the World, New Bedford, Mass).

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The 6 days on, 1 day off schedule we sustained for three weeks was meant to turn our flatfooted sailing squad into hearty seamen and it did just that. After weeks of focused training  these savages returned home as calloused and intrepid as the people of of the tough NE region we explored.

ALL GOLD ALL THE TIME

Our team goal was to position ourselves during the qualifying rounds of each event in the Gold Fleet. Then to finish top third. Mission accomplished. I am extremely proud of the team.

It is important to remember the time and effort that goes into seeking achievement. The hours on the water, broken parts, and bruises are small indicators of the growing pains we went through. The most significant and resonating gains are much deeper and far more cerebral. Here’s a look behind the curtain at the bigger lessons learnt….

CURRENT IS REAL- Falmouth YC, 2016 420 Nationals. “a.k.a. No parking at our Club”

In our training days prior to Nationals. We spent a lot of time exploring Vineyard Sound and practicing in different areas of water depth and current intensity. What we found was extremely different sea-state/surface activity due to changes in depth.

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In the photo above, the standing waves over the Middle Ground shoal in the Vineyard Sound, where the water depth jumps from 60 to 10 feet, sometimes less depending on the tide. The strong ebbing  tidal flow created a treadmill like wave where we spent about 30 minutes sailing downwind and only traveled about 200 yards.

FIND YOUR INNER NERD, or SCIENTIST

Hours of research of tidal models and f731be29-c086-4922-872a-5b4c8d2d17e5.jpgflow patterns coupled with vigilant observations during practice days did saved us from the pitfalls of fleet tendencies.

Day one, race one, 50% of the fleet worked the right side of the course, sailing in shallow water searching for current relief. We knew this would be the case and led to the right side. The top four boats rounded mark one 9 and a half minutes after the start, then 1:30 goes by. O-n-e-M-i-n-u-t-e & T-h-i-r-t-y seconds went by before the next group of boats rounded. Why? The 3.5-4 knot down course current held boats as they double and triple tacked to get around M1. It was like watching the greyhounds at the dog track chase after that ever elusive mechanical rabbit. “They’re never going to make it.”

Case & Point:  The fleet got a very real taste of how important current relief upwind and finding current downwind was a winning strategy. Especially those boats who felt comfortable on the left side for the first five minutes of the race, until the boats on shore sailed into current relief.

Lesson 1:  Fall in line with natural forces. You can’t win against them.

WAITING FOR THE VACUUM

The phenomenon of sea breeze is incredible. A simple calculation of air temperature, water temperature, and percentage of cloud cover can make the difference between: “the left side of the course is going to work sometime today, keep looking” and “the left side is going to work on the second half of your first downwind and the second upwind, count on it.”

I don’t want to give away too many secrets, but highly recommend some required reading of Frank Bethwaite’s High Performance Sailing to figure out how to predict wind activity and behavior. Thanks, Franky! You helped make the difference in our understanding of Gradient vs. Thermal breeze.

Lesson 2: Cloud cover, or lack there of, are incredible indicators of what the breeze is doing/or will do, both aloft and on the surface.

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Above: Nico feeling divine in Hyannis Port, MA, just offshore from the Kennedy Compound.
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LOOK UP!

An impromptu tour of my22d0e480-c0d9-442e-914a-76e3a163deba.jpg buddy, Jay Leidel’s,  sail loft [thanks, Squeteague Sailmakers] gave our group a look at what goes into sail design, manufacturing, and care. This was one of my all time highlights of our NE campaign. And it sparked some interesting conversation in our team.

We now have a new appreciation for the 420 sail’s top batten and spent the rest of our time up north investigating the performative effects of different batten tensions in a variety of wind conditions. It is amazing to see how differently the boat responds, especially upwind, when twist is introduced into the sail’s head. In light air, our heaviest crew was outpointing the lightweights. {wait, what?} All because we started adjusting a 4inch piece of nylon webbing.

Lesson 3: Keep looking for new ways to go faster & point higher.

955c96e9-fbbf-4f05-808e-3a73b7aa1986.jpg FINAL THOUGHTS

This past summer inspired a whole new level of engagement when it comes to venue preparation, research, and equipment tuning.

Local knowledge is overrated, and practicing sound forecasting techniques support informed racing strategies.

I can’t wait to build upon these new lines of inquiry and skills that I personally gained, and the skills I watched the athletes achieve. This summer was so rewarding. A huge thanks to the parents at Key Biscayne Yacht Club for supporting their sailors, and their Sailing Director, Adrienne Kamilar, for making it happen!bfa14593-5d9d-4c54-b74c-3759fa0f777c.jpg

 

29er Nationals ReCap

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Newport is absolutely the place to be in the summer. Where the magically classic 12 meters meet the carbon Marstrom 32s as they switchback the Narragansett Bay. The combination of sailing’s past and present zipping beneath the Jamestown Bridge is inspiring, and the level of talent at this year’s 29er Nationals proved worthy of such a stage.image

Most of the sailors in the 35 boat fleet spent a few weeks in Newport at the Brooke E Gonzales and ODP Clinic, giving teams a good amount of time working on boat mechanics and transitions under the direction of the nation’s best coaches.

FLIP THE SWITCH
During the event itself we saw consistent sea breeze conditions, the heating element of Providence switched on every day by mid-morning. The breeze consistently clocked between 170 and 245 throughout the week. These fluctuations however were relative to geographical factors on each side of the course. And the fleet caught on quickly.
KNOW YOUR VENUE
depth narragansettWith the 29er course tucked in between Goat & Rose Islands, the most significant environmental factors we saw were tidal. The deep water at the center of the bay and shallows near Goat Island created super charged flood and ebb currents.
The biggest lesson for our competitors was DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Gathering information at the beginning of the day and monitoring conditions makes for best strategic planning, so we made sure to sync up our observations with tide charts. I stumbled on documents from the 2014 F16 Worlds that highlight tidal activity in the Narragansett Bay , this inspired a lot of research.
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Consulting local knowledge gave some incredible insight in eddying factors that caused currents on the same course to move in different directions. I won’t give away anymore secrets here, but just reinforce that observation of fixtures like channel markers, lobster pots, and course marks was the most helpful.
Not only is the 29er class incredibly fun, but the take away of this event highlighted the relationship between success and understanding what’s going on beneath your boat. Factors such as depth, specific tidal cycles (max ebb, slack, max flood), and geographic factors that contribute to eddying, current’s strength and direction.
Well done to all the competitors!
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ACTION PACKED SUMMER

SUMMER CLINICS & REGATTAS

d8522f04-7e11-490f-9237-39f98a7ef278.jpg29er Sailing in Miami & Beyond

 

Thrilled to be working with the South Florida skiff squad to build and develop some consistent training in the Biscayne Bay. Lots of 29er action ahead with events in Newport (29er Nationals) & many athletes traveling to compete, lots of skiffing ahead.

More about 29ers here…

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club420 Clinics at Key Biscayne Yacht Club

86998806-c5e1-4af8-9a69-ab6be91e5bcb.jpgDates: June 13-16  |  June 20-23  | June 27-30 | July 5-8 |  July 11-14

This summer is about overcoming big goals to prepare for the end of summer trifecta of competition in New England: Nationals: July 19-24 | Hyannis: July 26-31 | Buzzard’s Bay: August 2-7

Our focus shifts throughout the day to cover various aspects of the sailing spectrum, including Performance & Movement, Technique, & Strategy.
Everyday we work diligently on the water performing drills and practicing races. Classroom time is spent to review weather patterns, work on informed forecasting, discuss future regatta venues, and explore the science behind sail trim and sailing fast.
Fitness is an important component or the race team clinics. Strong sailors who have endurance can outlast competitors and make smart decisions at the end of a long day. Each day we work on strengthening and cardiovascular exercises to push ourselves to the limit.
Sailors who are aging out an Opti or interested in trying out and learning the 420, Don’t Be Intimidated! We will meet you where you’re at and push you farther.
Seasoned 420 sailors, especially those of you planning to head up north in a few weeks, this is not an opportunity to miss!
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Coaching Windsurfing at US Youth Champs in San Diego

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Can’t wait to return to one of my favorite youth regattas of the year, US Sailing Youth Champs. Last year, this event set me on a path to push my coaching even farther than I thought possible.

More so, I’m fired up to coach sailors who share the same love for serious pain and frustration (not to mention speed) on sailboards!

Match Racing Clinic Recap w/ Steph Roble & Taylor Canfield

What do you get when you mix two professional sailors, a group of eager sailors and a small inland lake? This past weekend we hosted Stephanie Roble and Taylor Canfield, who served up an unforgettable experience that elevated the skills and knowledge of our mile high racers.

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As soon as Stephanie agreed to speak at our 17th Annual Spirit of Sailing Gala (more on that in an upcoming post), we leaped at the opportunity to get our junior sailors in the boat with she and Taylor. Steph herself admits this type of mingling helps set sailors on the right track,  “I did not really have opportunities to sail other boats with other people, so keep that going for the kids. I think that is a good way for them to figure out where they want to stand in sailing and keep it as a lifetime sport.”

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An onshore chalk talk to cover the ground rules and situations boats can both pursue and avoid set the gears in motion. Thanks to the generous support from our local Lightning Fleet through Denver Sailing Association, we fleeted four boats, so all the sailors could get an opportunity to sail with Steph and Taylor.

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Two groups on the water worked on location specific plays, to attempt to control their opponent. Steph and Taylor rotated sailors in near the starting line and went through pre-start and starting playground antics with the kids, finding controlling position over the other boat.

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Our other boats worked on windward/leeward rounding drills, setting up tip to tail, and engaged in tacking duels to force port/starboard convergence. An atypical building South-Westerly breeze kept the sailors on their toes, as these full-sailed boats skipped across the water weighed down by a group of giddy racers.

Steph and Taylor delivered a world-class clinic to our sailors and the experience was unforgettable. A huge thanks to them for bringing their skill and talent to Community Sailing of Colorado!

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