1200 hours on August 11th, we hit the dock for day one of our final, four day block of training before heading to Europe for the ISAF World Championship in Santander, Spain. As soon as we got the sails up, and pulled our first gybe off of Ledbetter Beach, I began to feel the rush of excitement, accompanying an imminent breakthrough that has been so frequent over the last 11 months of sailing the 49er. As I pulled the kite across the boat, I made a new connection between the driving force gybe and the light air gybes that we had practiced the week earlier, which suddenly brought a torrent of past advice from mentors and coaches flooding into my head. “Fast hands make consistent gybes,” and ” sneak the kite through the forward triangle” were among the renewed adages, and suddenly I could feel that a breakthrough in our gybing technique was close.
Ever since we began putting in a full time effort about 6 months ago, this has become the predominant rhythm of our training cycles. Intense focus on seemingly minor details set in motion big picture lessons, which draw from many of our past experiences to refine our overall technique in the boat. So far, our progress has been very rapid, and as we head into this next adventure in Spain, our learning curve shows no sign of slowing.
The plan for the next month is to maintain this routine of improvement, in Santander. While for many Olympic hopefuls, the ISAF Worlds will be a peak event for the year, we hope to use the opportunity to spur growth in a new branch of our training program, which we will be able to bring back to Santa Barbara to develop over the winter. As such, we will be pushing our minds, bodies and boat hard in the next three weeks to soak up as much information as possible. While we are very confident in the tools that we have been working on, this event will be a huge opportunity to test many variations of techniques in racing situations to build a clear pathway to focus on as we prepare for the Olympic trial process to start next year.
With the boat all packed up, we officially have 441 hours in the book. We have completed 3363 tacks, 2577 gybes, and we have gone swimming on 44 occasions. I’m headed out to Newport, RI now to make a pit-stop before meeting Dane in Spain, but we’ll be back on the water sailing in the Bay of Biscay in no time! Stay tuned for more travel blog updates soon!
Photo Credit: John Kelsey