Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Qualification done

Well it was a difficult day on the water for us today. The wind was from the same direction (SE) as yesterday and built as we sailed out to the course to around 8-10 knots. We thought it might pick up more but during the first race it dropped down to around 6 knots. The first race we started at the pin and had a great start - but it was a general. Second start we were a bit farther up the line and didn't hold our lane long enough off the start. We tacked out but kept getting bounced around as other boats tacked on top of us. We ended up sailing too much in the middle of the course and tacking too much, rounding towards the back of the fleet. We had a good reach, managing to stay low and catch a boat. The downwind we went the wrong way however; the wind had decreased and the pressure across the course was uneven and patchy. The second upwind we headed back out into the pressure but my back decided to start acting up and I was in a lot of pain with the marginal trapezing conditions. Between races I stretched and this helped a bit. The wind was still very light and patchy.

For the second race we opted to start at the boat end with our classic strategy - hang out and come in super late and snag the hole directly under the RC. This is risky, because if the hole doesn't open up you are screwed, but if it does you are golden and have won the biased end. We were hanging out a bit far away from the RC, and had to politely ask a coachboat to move as we were actually racing (classic Canadian fashion - "Umm, excuse me, could you please let us past? Sorry, thank you!). We came in super late with speed and had the most amazing start ever - and it was a general recall! I'm sure we confused the RC with all our yelling. "Yes! Awesome start!" "NOOOOO let us go!" Anyways, we tried it again and of course it didn't work the second time. Headed out right and it was looking good until we came back into the top in second last. At least one boat came with us?! The rest of the race was just painful. Literally, my back was excruciating with the marginal trapeze conditions and choppy water. We caught some boats on the second beat but then lost them again on the downwind as some massive shifts came through.

Personally the day was extremely frustrating for me, as I have worked so hard on my fitness for so long and my back has not been an issue for most of the past year. I go running and do exercises every morning at 7.30 am while other people sleep just so that my back is nice and relaxed and my core muscles are activated. For some reason today just wasn't my day.

So after 6 races qualification is complete and the top 27 boats advance to Gold Fleet and the bottom 27 to Silver Fleet. We are unfortunately solidly in silver, which means we have officially NOT qualified for the 2012 Olympics.

Although not a total surprise given our results at every event so far this spring, it is still a huge disappointment to not realize our dream of representing Canada at the Olympics.

We are still in competition though, and there are four more days of racing! We will continue to try our hardest and learn from every race. There are 6 unqualified nations in the Women's Gold Fleet and 5 spots for the Olympics, so the excitement continues!

In the Men's fleet the Canadians Mike Leigh and Luke Ramsay have made Gold Fleet and qualified Canada for the Olympics! Congratulations to both of them, they have worked so hard and sailed great the last couple days.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Day Two - Three Races

Today was action packed! Got up at 7.30 and went running as usual. Breakfast and biked down to the club. Checked the settings, discovered while rigging that the water bottle I have been drinking from for 3 months now is full of fungus/algae/mold (yummy!). Tried to wash it but no use, so had a coffee and bought some water bottles and tried not to think about what I've been ingesting (the biochem degree does NOT help with ignorance is bliss, let me tell you!). We were all ready to go and it was 10.30 so we decided what the heck, we'd be the keeners for the day. The boys had the same idea so it was Canada first off the boat ramp!

We sailed down to our course in about 10-12 knots. Once down at the race committee we pinned down to our 2 setting and went upwind to check it out. Once we'd gone upwind and downwind once it was only 11 am, so we did it again and manged to tune up with a Russian team. Then it was still only 11.30! Nice to get out early and be ready to go for a change! We put on some more clothing and chilled out until our start.

The wind was pretty up and down and shifty, but the pin looked favored so our plan was to start down there, get a clean start and tack on shifts/stay in phase with the fleet. First start we had a beautiful start, punched out with speed. It was a general recall, of course. Except the horn they are using on the RC boat is pretty whimpy (sounds like a very sad cat sometimes) so the fleet got away a bit before we realized the start was recalled.

Now, usually we have an amazing start and it is a generall recall and then we horribly screw up the real start. Today however was different! We managed to repeat our awesome start and go fast. In fact, we went faster then anyone else in the fleet for most of the day. We crossed back into the fleet 2/3 way up the beat and tacked ahead of and in front of everyone. In other words, we were WINING THE RACE for awhile! Then coming into the starboard layline I didn't have the confidence to leebow the five-time world champs, so we overstood the lay line and let about 5 boats get inside. The rest of the race was average. Not so flash on the downwinds or around marks, but picked up boats again upwind with our wicked fast boat speed. Ended up 22nd.

The second race we managed a repeat performance - rounded the top mark in 3rd and did a decent job on the downwind. Second upwind we usually catch up a whole bunch of boats but we were already solidly up in the fleet and we got forced left a bit far, so we stayed around the same. The reach we managed to hold off the Australians (both gold medalists) from rolling us until just before the mark. Then they capsized; I laughed and Hannah said this was bad Karma. True that! We went half way down the leg and capsized ourselves! Got it up but 24th in that race.

The third race we sat around for a bit before hand and the wind came up to about 18 knots. Pinned down to gear 4. Unfortunately Hannah lost her (expensive) sunglasses on the capsize, so she was now sailing blind. If you've never sailed the 470 in breeze, you can't appreciate how the water hits the crew's feet/calves and deflects exactly into the skipper's face. The skippers call it the "firehose". Especially nice if the water is cold!

So our start was okay, our upwind speed was okay, but not amazing like the first two races due to the fact that Hannah was actually sailing with her eyes closed (the salt water burns). Made a few mistakes around the course and we ended up at the back of the pack.

Once in from sailing we sat in the sun and ate some Paillea provided by the regatta. We discussed how after a hard day of sailing it doesn't matter what the food is or how bad it is, you'll eat it! It was funny after sailing noticing how everyone in the fleet has this haggard/exhausted look about them with wicked sunglasses tans and bloodshot eyes from the salt water.

The bike home was into the wind which was not so fun. I think I've had enough exercise for the day, except my muscles are stiffening up now so I'll still have to go for a light jog/stretch tonight!

Tomorrow we are back on the normal two races a day program with a 12 pm start. Check the regatta website there are pictures, video and you can watch the races again with the tracking.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

First Day Done!

Hello all! So, it is the end of day one of the 2012 470 World Championships, and we got one light wind race under our belts; placing 20th in the Blue fleet. We were postponed on shore for a couple hours, before rushing out around 2:30pm, as they only give us 30mins from the moment the AP flag comes down on shore. Erin made the mistake this morning of trusting me with the blue ribbon to display from our mast... I forgot where I set it down, so I was running around the boat park, trying to find a new blue ribbon. After that little drama we headed to the start line.

The first start for the blue fleet was generalled, then the second start was under the pretty black flag. We made it off the line and immediately took a few transomes, after missing our only tacking opportunity, we were forced out to the left. But, luckily a HUGE lefty came in and helped us out a little.
We caught a few boats on the first downwind, but then found ourselves in the middle of a massive shit fight on the starboard side of the gate. We made it out with limited drama, other than the Malaysians yelling uselessly about something involving Canadians and a few words I shouldn't repeat. But, seeing as we weren't at fault, we didn't need to do any spins.

The rest of the race went relatively smooth, and we had some boats behind us at the finish line, so overall not a bad day. We felt bad for the 470 men though, who hadn't even started a race by the time we were headed in so Erin made a delish supper for when the Finnish guys got home, as they were bound to come in tired, grumpy, and hungry.

As for tomorrow, we hope to get off the start line a little better, and hopefully have a few more sails behind us at the finish! The start is at 12:00pm again, but we are on the Alpha course instead of the Bravo. You can also follow along live on the event webpage; all the boats carry GPS trackers. We shall post again tomorrow evening with more exciting news from beautiful Barcelona. Untill then, adios amigos!!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Worlds Starts Tomorrow!

Hello Supporters!

 The time we have worked so hard for has finally arrived! The 2012 470 World Championships and 2nd Olympic Qualifier is now! Last night was the opening ceremonies and today was the practice race. Tomorrow racing starts at 12 pm with two races per day scheduled. There will be six days of racing (with no lay day) and then the medal race and consolation race on the seventh day (May 19th). We took the day off yesterday and did some sight seeing with our Croatian friends. We went to the Picasso museum, did some shopping and had coffee on La Rambla. There are some pictures on Facebook you can see here.

It has been a very steep learning curve since Hannah and I started sailing together in October, and a very emotional past few months over here in Europe training and competing. I guess we are as ready as we will ever be! We are healthy and happy and we have excellent equipment, so that's about all you can hope for at the end of the day. I am super excited to get the event started and see how it goes. The conditions for training have been very light and warm and choppy. Not our best conditions in terms of boat speed, but very enjoyable to sail in none the less.

 There are too many boats registered for us to all race together, so the fleets will be split. This means there will be three days of qualifying and then four days of racing in Gold and Silver fleet. What this means for the Olympic Qualification is that in order to qualify for the Olympics we probably need to be in Gold fleet. So one way or another we will know by Wednesday what our future holds. You can follow along on Facebook and Twitter and on the event website. We will have GPS trackers on board so you can follow the racing live if you are awake!

 Thank you to everyone for all your support throughout our campaign and wish us luck!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Fun Sailing

We have been on the water for three days now in Barcelona. We have been getting back into a routine. Fitness in the morning, a little bit of boat work and then sailing. Yesterday we had 10-14 knots and sun and warm weather and it was gorgeous. We had a really productive training day and we also had a ton of fun. Often these two do not go hand in hand and we have been struggling this trip with the fun factor, so that was really nice! We went out and tuned up on our own and then joined in with some racing. Once we tuned up we had really good speed. We joined in late on the racing so asked our friends Sanni and Tina what the sequence and course was. Tina said it was a three minute sequence, twice around and the right was paying. So we won the boat, hit the right and rounded top five! After two races the racing was done. Then we managed to hook up with the German and Polish teams and do some tuning upwind. We were really fast and when we focused on it had really good height as well. It was so nice to know we can go fast on our own when we focus on it. We are also using the mast we used in Palma, which sets up a bit nicer than the new mast we used for Spring Cup and Hyeres. Today we had to move venues as we are racing out of the Barcelona International Sailing Center and not the Olympic Port. We hit the water a bit later after fixing a few things on the boat. Mackay Boats was kind enough to mail us new auto-bailer flaps free of charge so our boat doesn't take on water anymore! We went out and tuned up with the Ecuador boys. Light wind and BIG waves made the conditions very tricky. Trying to keep the sails powered up but also go fast and high. We struggled with our height for awhile but eventually figured it out. We joined in on some racing again and it went pretty well. We made some big mistakes but also some big gains and our communication in the boat as well as our boat trim was very good. Most people headed in after the racing; however our dolly was being moved by the Finnish boys' coach and they were still out training so we couldn't go in yet. We decided to sail around for fun. A strange concept indeed; but we had done 3 hours of productive training so why not? We sailed around with our sails trimmed incorrectly and sun-tanned and looked at the Barcelona coast line. It was quite relaxing and enjoyable. We headed in and figured out the new boat storage/launching situation (the ramp is much bigger). Tomorrow we will go training in the morning and then through measurement in the afternoon. Then we will take Saturday off, short sail Sunday and then Worlds starts on Monday!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Training In Barcelona

Hello everyone! Hannah and I are back together in Barcelona and getting ready for our World Championships! We had 10 days off during which time Hannah went to Whales and I went to Croatia. We both had excellent holidays and are feeling refreshed and relaxed and excited to get back into the boat. Today we unloaded the boat and set it up and actually managed to get on the water for a short training session with the Croatian women's team Romana and Enia. We did some line ups (we were fast but had no height) and a short windward leeward. We have some minor boat work to do each day this week to make sure the boat is totally prepared for Worlds, but everything major is together and working. We have a very nice three bedroom apartment less than 10 minutes biking from the Olimpic Harbor. Unfortunately this is apparently NOT the sailing venue we will race out of next week! So we will have to sort out those logistics later. Staying with us are the Finnish Men's 470 team of Niklos and Joonis Lindgren and their coach Petri. They have admitted to being incapable of cooking so looks like I'm the chef for the next few weeks; which conveniently means I will not have to do any dishes. Speaking of dishes - we've just discovered Hannah has been running the dishwasher with salt, not dishwasher powder as she originally thought. Her defense is she doesn't speak Spanish! Racing for Worlds starts on the 13th so we will have 5 days of training and a day off and then start racing. There are six days of racing and the seventh day is the medal race. The forecast looks rather mixed, which is what people have been saying all along. Hopefully we will get a little bit of everything and the most well-rounded sailors will win! I can hardly believe we have only two more weeks left in Europe. This trip has been such a whirl-wind of emotions and activities. Thank you so much to everyone for your continued support. The folks at Calgary Yacht Club put together a video to cheer us on and posted it to our Facebook page and it was so great to see everyone at home still thinking of us and wishing us the best!

Sunday, April 29, 2012


So a lot has happened since the last blog post! Wednesday we actually had light wind and some sun which was a nice change. We were postponed on shore for an hour or so and then headed out and had two races. We finished very poorly in both races, but the first race was good in that we had a really good start and great first upwind. It was very choppy and the wind was very patchy which made the conditions really tough. Thursday was again very windy, 25+ knots and big waves. Along with many other boats, we opted to not sail the last two races of the event and just pack the boat up early. We didn't want to risk breaking any gear and didn't see much point in spending the day swimming considering our results in the event and our goals for the event (to try and relax and enjoy sailing!) During Hyeres we decided we would continue to Barcelona and the Olympic Qualifier, but instead of going straight to Barcelona and training immediately, we would take a week off of sailing to try and rest and recuperate and come back into the event relaxed and with a positive outlook. Hannah has gone to Whales with one of the other Canadian 470 sailors for a few days, and I have gone to Croatia with my good friends Romana and Enia, the Croatian 470 team. I drove in the van with the Croatian sailors and Romana has so far been an amazing host. Yesterday we went rafting in an annual rafting race organized by her father. We placed 5th overall and the most amusing part is I was interviewed and appeared on national television because it was so strange to have a Canadian in the event! We will return to Barcelona on the 5th and start training for the 470 World Championships, which begin on May 13th. Thanks to everyone for all their positive support and wonderful emails! Feel free to email us we love to hear from home.