Saturday, January 30, 2010

MOCR Day 5 + 6

We had two races on Friday in 6-8 knots from the NE. In the last race
we had our best start ever, getting off the line with speed and up
with the other boats, which was a great way to finish off the regatta.
Today we went on the water to watch the medal races for the men's and
women's 470 fleets. The top ten boats compete in the medal race, which
is worth double the points of a normal race. It was great to watch the
top boats compete and see how much effort they put in to make the boat
go fast. Then we loaded the trailer, cleaned the house and attended
the awards ceremony. Erin flies home on Sunday, while Jen drives the
boats back to Victoria!

Friday, January 29, 2010

MOCR Day 3 and 4

The wind has been basically the same as Tuesday; a bit lighter on
Wednesday and a bit heavier on Thursday. It's been nice having the
same conditions three days in a row as we have started to put some
things together. We had 3 races on Tue and 2 Wed. The first race on
Tuesday we did not have a good start and were behind. There's no clean
air under a fleet if this size, so when behind you have to go towards
one side or the other. We went left, as the top of the course was
supposed to be favored on the left, and most of the fleet was heading
left. Unfortunatly a 30 degree wind shift to the right came in,
putting us on the wrong side. It was a long and painful race as the
wind continued to shift right.
The next two races were better as we started to be able to find some
holes on the start line. In the third race we were up with the fleet
for most of the beat. We tacked onto the starboard layline early, and
learned a hard lesson as 10 boats sailed over us to tack on top of us.
Now we know not to set up on the laylines early in this fleet.

It took the women's fleet a few tries before we finally got a race off
on Wednesday. The first race of the day was our best yet. We found a
hole on the starting line and got off with the fleet. We managed to
stay in phase with the shifts and didn't set up on the layline too
early. Our downwind speed is improving as we coordinate pumping the
waves. We made some gains on the second upwind, and managed to catch 2
boats on the reach to the finish!
The second race of the day we had a huge hole on the start but didn't
accelerate as well as we'd hoped. We struggled in dirty air and got
left behind on the beat. We continued to work hard and sail well but
couldn't make up the distance lost. We were very happy with our
sailing Thursday: the boat speed is better, we are starting to find
holes on the starting line and working more as a team.
Friday is the last day of racing with two races scheduled. Then we
pack up the boats so Jen can drive them all the way home!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

MOCR Day 2

It was (relatively) cool last night and today with low humidity. The 470's had three races in 8-12 knots from the North. It was gusty on the water, and we were challenged with respect to predicting puffs and shifts. They were strong but short lived, making it tricky to keep the boat balanced and powered up. We had a good all round learning day.
The first start of the first race was postponed, which was great as we got a second crack at starting in this talented fleet. We got a much better start on the second try, and were up with the fleet throughout the first beat. The wind shifted to the right but we momentarily lost focus and ended up on the left, which cost us a number of boats. We had a good reach and passed a boat right at the finish.
The second race we tried to start under the current leaders, which was not the smartest idea!  We picked up a couple boats on the second upwind and had a good reach and run. In the 470 fleet you pump the boat to surf waves downwind, but in the lighter wind it was only possible to surf some of the waves. There are also rules about how often you can pump; in over 8 knots of wind you can pump as much as you like, in less wind only once per wave.
The third race saw us get a good position on the starting line, but due to lack of communication we accelerated a bit late. The wind had shifted even more to the right, so it wasn't a very tactical beat, everyone went right. We are doing a really good job of calling the laylines; and are able to make gains at this point.

Overall it was a challenging day but we learned lots. Our priority right now is to improve our boatspeed and starts so we can hang with the good guys a little longer each race.

Results for the regatta can be found at

Monday, January 25, 2010

MOCR Day 1

We arrived at the US Sailing centre early this morning to prepare for
an eleven o'clock start. Racing was postponed at around 10 due to
forecasted "waterspouts" ie. Tornado-like weather. A front was supposed
to come through but was taking longer than expected. We sat around the
sailing site for most of the day, they eventually cancelled the racing
for the day around 2. We headed home and then went for a run around
the University of Miami campus. It has a lake with crocodiles and some
very strange looking ducks!
Racing is scheduled for 11 again tomorrow, they will try and get in 3

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Miami Update 3

We have been training for the past 4 days with the other Canadian 470
Sailors: Jono and Ted, Dana and Karen, Olliver and John, and Fraser
and Erik. Lukas, an Opti and 420 champion and 470 sailor from
Argentina has been coaching us, and will continue to do so through the
Miami Olympic Classes Regatta. Lukas is very laid back and extremely
helpful, he is a bit challenged with 5 boats of various skill levels.
We have had a variety of wind directions and strengths, and some
exciting squalls with rain. Sailing in Miami is very simple: sail
towards the black clouds! The water is very choppy because it is only
about 15 feet deep.

We start racing tomorrow, and there are two races scheduled each day.
We're looking forward to applying what both Dave and Lucas have taught
us, and are excited to race in the women's fleet with some very
talented and experienced sailors.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Miami Update 2

We had light winds for the last day of racing yesterday, which is a more typical Miami breeze. The race commitee was challenged to get a start off as the wind was very shifty. We had several recalled starts, which allowed us to practise our starting technique. The fleet is quite agressive and we had our spot stolen more than once. In between races Dave corrected some of our boat handling techniques like spinnaker gybing and tacking. We had three races, all in light and shifty breeze. We struggled with our boat speed the whole day, something about our settings was off, however we made some very good tactical decisions and were able to remain focussed on our sailing. We practised our roll tacks on the sail in and feel like we have the specific movements in place. Now we need to practise practise practise!

Today we are taking the day off. Jen has gone to the Everglades to see some alligators by fan boat, while I caught up on some sleep.
We will train all week with sailors from around the world, and then the Miami Olympic Classes Regatta starts up on Monday the 25th.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Update 1 from Miami

Erin- We have had a crazy couple days since I arrived, so were not
able to get online.
I arrived in Miami late due to a delayed flight and bumped connection.
Jen and I headed straight to the US sailing centre without my bag,
which the airline had lost somewhere in Dallas. We worked on tuning
the boat until it got dark, took a dinner break and then did some more
work by headlamp.
Saturday was the first day of 470 North Americans, and it was windy! A
bit of trial by fire as this is our first event sailing together, we
hadn't managed to get on the water on Friday, and I was sailing in
borrowed/random gear.
We got out to the course early, started warming up and promptly broke
the boom vang fitting! We sailed in and managed to jury rig a fix, and
headed back out. We had missed the first race, but were in time for
the second. We got a bad start and capsized on the reach, but we made
it around the course and were a bit more comfortable with the wind
strength and boat. In the next race we got a transit and set up early.
We won the start and were up with the leaders for quite awhile. We
slowly dropped back in the fleet as the race progressed, as we dealt
with some boat issues etc.

Jen-It's Sunday and we just finished our second day of racing in good
breeze again. Today ended early when the race committee sent us
scrambling for shore while a storm front blew in. Our coach for the
week is Dave Hughes, a very experienced and talented 470 crew from
California. Dave has been helping us get our boat into race condition
and been walking us through trim and boathandling with great 470
specific knowpledge.
We're sailing in a world class fleet, which is exciting and provides
us with many learning opportunities. We've got a lot of work to do in
order to mix with the top sailors, but we're improving with every race
and each day on the water. We've had some great moments too-first off
the start In the third race yesterday!
Tomorrow is the last day of NA's and the forecast is for light wind.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Day 1 in Miami-Rigging

After a series of flights, layovers, and more flights, I'm finally in Miami. Erin will be joining me later this week, so I'm here getting the boats ready. Today was beautiful, the first warm day for folks down here in awhile, and it was about 17 degrees C. Our race boat (Toque) is washed, waxed, and rigged, and ready for a serious tuning session tomorrow. Tomorrow I'll also put together our training boat, because we're chartering it to a team from Tampa. It seems ironic that a team which is so close to Miami is chartering a boat from the other side of the continent...and so I chuckled to myself today as I worked.

I'm taking lots of photos of the rigging process, so we'll have some good diagrams and shots up for you to use on your own boats. Tomorrow I'll take shots of our training boat, as it will be very useful to anyone rigging an older boat.

Lots of friends hanging around the boat park, so today has been as much about hugs and catching up as it's been about rigging. It's great to see everyone and how each team has progressed as the time has passed. Our coach, Dave Hughes, will be out tomorrow, and so I'll be picking his brain about all things steering-I can't wait!

Take care!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Tax Receipts

We are now an approved project with the National Sport Trust Fund, which allows us to issue tax receipts for all personal donations over $25. Instructions for making donations are listed on the Support/Sponsorship page of our website. Thanks in advance for all your support.

Friday, January 8, 2010

(Other) Cool Women

Check these women out! Jessica Watson is a 16 year old Australian attempting to sail around the world alone. Hayley Shepard circumnavigated Vancouver Island in 1999, and is currently attempting to circumnavigate the antarctic island of South Georgia to raise awareness about the plight of the Albatross. Good luck ladies!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Year's Training Camp

We returned early from our Christmas in Calgary so we could get in some training before going back to work. We had a variety of conditions to deal with during our New Year's training camp, which kept us on our toes. Wednesday was light to medium wind from the SW, perfect breeze for getting back in the boat after a few weeks. The time off seemed to help, as some of the boat handling issues we had been struggling with before Christmas went more smoothly.

Thursday the breeze picked up out of the SE (winter storm direction) as soon as we got on the water. Training with the lasers was a bit crazy, as we go quite a bit faster in that much breeze and kept having to dodge other boats. We headed back into the bay where there was a bit less wind so we could focus on some boat handling, and then the rudder made a cracking noise. Since we have already sent our race boat down to Miami for the regatta later this month, we were sailing my training boat, which isn't used to being sailed that hard! We had in fact cracked the rudder blade, so we called it a day and went to the gym to do some rowing.

It stormed early Friday morning, and then the wind died off. It left behind some lovely 3-6 foot rolling waves like we rarely get in Cadboro Bay. Light wind and big swell is typical in some parts of the world (San Francisco) so we headed out to train in it. In really light wind the crew (me) sits facing backwards, and rolls the boat through the tacks- note to future crews: pack your gravol! We headed up-wind practicing our tacks on the big waves. Then wind died off and we bobbed around a bit. We headed in and watched some video and debriefed.

Saturday there was no wind, so we went running. Sunday was light to medium from the North, and we managed to get in a good four hour session. When the wind is from the North it is usually only in the bay, we focus on short course work and boathandling. We did some intense short races. With my old boat acting up, it was a challenge to get the spinnaker up, flying, gybed and doused in time to round the bottom mark. I think we finally managed to squeeze it all in on the 15th race or so. It was really good practice repeating the same skills and trying to make them faster every time.

Overall it was an effective training camp. We nailed down the timing on our starts and made some good improvements on our boat handling. We will sail one more weekend in Victoria and then head down to Miami for two regattas. Check back here next week for regular updates on these events.

Post-Christmas Update

We are back in Victoria after amusing ourselves for 5 hours at the Calgary airport waiting for our flight home. Jen and I both spent Christmas in Calgary with our respective families, and still managed to find the time to get in some exercise!

Our talk at the Glenmore Sailing Club was a success, with 40 guests in attendance. Jen and I talked a bit about our sailing background and the international events we will be attending this summer, as well as what campaigning for the Olympics means to us. Then Steve McBride shared some amazing stories from his experience coaching at the 2008 Parlympics.

Thanks so much to Steve for talking and to the Glenmore Sailing Club for hosting us. We would also like to thank our families for helping out, as well as the Stroppel family for their efforts in getting the club set up.

Pictures from the event can be linked to below

2009 - Christmas in Calgary