Monday, March 29, 2010

European Boat!

Over the weekend Jen and I finalized the purchase of a 470 in Europe! We are now the proud new owners of a 2004 MacKay sailed at the Olympics in Athens. The boat will be delivered to our first competition of the summer in Kiel, Germany in June. Greece may be in trouble, but we sure don't mind the drop in the Euro!
The purchase process was interesting for us, especially given that we've never met the person we bought the boat from in Ireland. It turns out, though that the owner, Barry, is connected to us through mutual friends. When we found this out we were able to send a friend over to look at it for us which was great. What a small world. Then, after managing a seven hour time difference, we were able to get things sorted out and secure the boat. We're very eager to get to Germany in June and put it together!

I've attached some pics of our new boat, tell us what you think!

Press Articles

We had two articles published about us last week in Jen's home town of Kelowna. Both announcing that in February Jen was named to the Canadian National Sailing Team based on her results in 2009 with her previous sailing partner. This means we are now receiving monthly funding and have access to sports resources through Pacific Sport BC and the CYA. This is awesome, and we hope our results from the coming summer will qualify myself for the CST and double our funding.

Kelowna Capital News and Kelowna Daily Courier

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Photos by Chris Davis

These are the photos our friend Chris Davis took of us sailing last week. Aren't they amazing? Thanks Chris!
Spring Training

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring Training

It's spring! Thanks to the time change Jen and I are now able to train in the evenings after work again, which has allowed us to sail for the last 4 days in a row. Thursday evening we had a photo shoot of sorts, with two photographers chasing us around Oak Bay. Bob Hewitt was taking some pictures for an article about sailing that will appear in PageOne's YAM magazine in May; and our friend Chris Davis was taking some photos for us. It was pretty hilarious and a lot of fun, as wind angles and lighting angles don't always work together!

Friday we worked on our downwind speed and coordinating our pumping in the light to medium breeze. Saturday we had a really good session with lots of short races which allowed us to practice our starts. Training with the single handed boats makes starting a challenge, as they sit closer to the line and can point higher then us right off the start. Then we went for a long sail out of the bay and had to paddle part of the way back when the wind completely died!

Sunday Jen and I got up early to run 16 km with our running clinic, which was very soggy to say the least, as it was pouring rain. It was definitely not the most enjoyable run ever, but good training nonetheless. After this we were pretty sleepy, but headed to the Yacht Club for race team practice. There were actually more double handed boats then single handed on the water, which happens very rarely! It was really nice to train with the 420's and be around other boats with spinnakers. The weather was variable, to say the least. Inside the bay the wind was from the NW, but outside the bay it was from the SW; there was alternately sunshine and big storm cells. We worked on our acceleration and then did some short windward/leeward courses. I think Jen was getting bored of sailing around in circles after awhile, but I was fairly excited as I felt my spinnaker hoists and douses were improving a lot with all the repetition. I managed to get the spinnaker down and packed away in time to round the leeward mark properly almost every time.

Since Miami I have been re-learning how to tack facing backwards, and I feel like I am finally starting to get the hang of it. It's an interesting challenge, trying to re-train my body to cross the boat facing the opposite direction, as I have been tacking facing forwards for approximately 15 years! The amusing part is when I think I'm going to go through the tack backwards but my body reverts to going forwards. This usually involves me falling over in a tangled mess of legs and arms in the bottom of the boat and apologizing to Jen while she prevents the boat from capsizing. Thankfully this has been occurring less frequently and hopefully my bruises will heal soon. The reason for tacking backwards is it enables me to keep my weight farther forward in the boat, which makes us go faster!

So all in all a very good weekend of training, and now back to work!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Audacious Goals

Jen here,

Last night I went to a talk given by marathon runner Silvia Ruegger. Silvia represented Canada at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. She ran the first women's marathon ever to be hosted at the Olympic games. Silvia had not intended to compete in the women's marathon event, but rather the track event which she had trained for for nearly eight years. It was just four months before the games that she switched events, and the Olympic race was only her second marathon ever. She placed eighth overall and during the course of her marathon career set the Canadian women's marathon record. She still holds that record today.
Silvia's talk was amazing. She touched on many things which athletes and non-athletes alike can identify with. She talked about the promise she made to herself when she was fifteen years old and the obligation she felt because of this promise. She also talked about the training process itself. According to Silvia, it's not the outcome that makes someone successful or not, it's the process. The process of dedicating hours and hours running in the early winter mornings in Ontario made her what she is today. The thousands of hours dedicated to focused training gave her the discipline to carry out her "audacious goals" as she calls them.
Audacious goals. Silvia repeated that phrase over and over again. The idea is that someone out there has to step up and dream big. Someone has to chose the scary route and then follow it to the end. Instead of choosing the safe route and following a traditional path, Silvia chose to follow a path that seemed crazy. She chose it because she knew that if she hadn't, she would always wonder "what if."

I approached Silvia after her inspiring talk and asked her if she had any advice for an athlete who is early in her career. Just go for it, she said. Enjoy the process and the outcome will present itself. Every moment that you spend pursuing your goal will fulfill you; and don't measure yourself by other people's standards of success, only your own. Wow, those are words to remember the next time I'm wondering why my friends have all run out and got themselves careers and I'm mucking about in boats.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Fitness Testing

Jen here,

Yesterday Erin and I spent the afternoon at the Pacific Institute of Sport Excellence (PISE). As part of our carding status, we underwent three and a half hours of fitness testing. The process was hilarious, humbling, and daunting. The outcome, however, will be rigorous and focused training plans which we will follow throughout the spring and summer. They will allow us to work to attain peak fitness for our World Cup events. In essence, we will be spending the foreseeable future "blasting it to the max" as they say. And blast it we did. Between push up, pull up, squat, and plank tests we managed to generate enough lactic acid to run a car battery. Fortunately we were able to keep our lunches in our tummies, but not all were so lucky. When not pushing and pulling, we lined up for skin fold tests and "girth measurements," my favourite. Basically, the lovely gentleman in the picture above, James, would systematically jiffy marker us, poke us, pinch us, and then then run a tape measure around various parts of our anatomies. I must say that James was far more professional than I was: he would diligently take notes on the amount of granny fat on the back of my arm while I made awkward jokes and laughed nervously in anticipation of what comes next. Thank you to James and Megan, our intrepid fitness testers! We look forward to the fitness plan and our next batch of tests!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Cross Training

Jen here,

Today was day one of on water cross training for me. Well, that's not entirely true. There were actually three days of washing, rigging, and tweaking before going sailing-all of which had been originally planned as sailing days, but perhaps that was a bit optimistic.
Royal Vic has acquired a Europe, and as part of my transition from crewing in the 470 to driving the 470, I am adding in a few single handed practices in the Europe each week. The Europe is an absolutely beautiful little boat. It's a dream to sail, so well balanced and responsive, nicely cut sail, and a hot little carbon fibre mast. On the way back from training today, I found myself reminiscing about how nice the boat felt as it powered up in the breeze.
Tacking, though. Oh tacking. When I first got into a 470, I was impressed by how low the boom was. This is, of course, because I had come from the world of Radials, 29ers, and (yes I'm that old) Laser II's. After some practice however, I became accustomed to the layout and physical bending required to move around the 470. The Europe, however, feels like a different animal altogether. I found myself bending like a pretzel in ways that I didn't know were possible, only to have the boom graze my but on each and every tack or gybe. Then I would finish a tack to see my training partner, Phil, with a perplexed look on his face. "I've never seen someone get their rear stuck on the boom while tacking!"
Why is this of any interest to anyone? Well, for starters, it's always hilarious to see someone out in a new boat for the first time. Things like balance and footwork, which we can easily take for granted, become totally foreign as we grapple to find the groove in our new boat. More importantly though, it reminded me of how important flexibility is within a training program. Of course we spend hours and hours running, lifting, crunching, and doing everything we can to make ourselves fitter. But when it comes to flexibility it seems that we have little time to give to our bodies. The little attention we give is simply to prevent our muscles from tightening up after we have just spent a few hours abusing them. This does little to increase our overall flexibility in the boat.
There were many things happening in the Europe today. First and foremost was getting used to the boat and the way it feels and sails. Second was working out many of the lingering rigging issues; not a big deal, and easily solved during the next windless day. Third, though, was the realization that cross training not only helps to strengthen areas of known weakness within one's existing training program, it helps to shed light on new areas for improvement. Yes, hundreds and thousands of tacks in the Europe will smooth out my footwork and prevent me from squealing in panic as I catch my butt on the boom-again. But so will some attention to my overall flexibility. No doubt that both of these solutions to my cross training tacking challenges will result in smoother 470 tacks as well, which is the whole point of this exercise.