Friday, September 17, 2010

Halifax Training Day 4 and 5

We are nearing the end of our journey - only two more days and we get to come home! Yesterday we had a great day of training out in the Bay with around 15 knots of breeze. We did some short course work to start off, which was challenging with the puffy shifty breeze close to shore. The mechanics of our tacks, gybes and mark roundings are correct we are now working to make them smoother and faster. We then headed upwind and out into St. Margaret's Bay. Jacob and Graeme had to head in due to a breakdown so they came back on the water in the coach boat. Coaches Dave and Brian switched them into boats and moved people around so at one point no one was sailing in their own boat or with their usual partner. This was really cool, as we got to see how the other teams do things. It lead to a great discussion in debrief about how and what each person communicated in the boat and also some insights into which boat set ups we liked better. I got to sail with Jacob while Jen steered for Karen, and we both learned a lot. Afterwards we had a team dinner at Karen's house. We made pita pizzas and shared stories.

Today there was a big storm cell predicted to hit with 35 knots of wind. We hid in the clubhouse while it poured rain, and finally started to rig. Unfortunately Jen was unable to sail due to the pain in her forearms, so I headed out with Teddy driving the boat. The breeze came up to just over 20 knots as we launched. We didn't stay out long; although Teddy is an excellent sailor, we have never sailed together before and communication and teamwork is key to keeping the boat upright in breeze. We headed in and watched from the dock as the other teams raced around. They didn't stay out too long; unfortunately Karen and Dana broke their mast when they capsized while doing a pin change. We re-grouped on shore and had to explain to the firetrucks, ambulance and news crew who turned up that we were fine; no one was hurt; and this was just a normal day at the office for us.

One of the perks of a national team camp is the support from the local sports centre. We have had a physio out twice and a massage therapist out every day after sailing. After 3 months of sailing Jen and I are nursing some repetitive strain injuries. Jen's forearms are injured from sheeting the mainsheet while my right shoulder is out of sorts. Adnaan the massage therapist is awesome - he has been working on us both every day. The hard part is that sometimes things have to get worse before they get better. Our bodies have learned to function with our joints locked up and starting to release them is very painful. We are both looking forward to a couple weeks off of sailing to rest and recover.

The forecast for the next two days is for sun and light wind. Tomorrow we begin racing to decide our national champion. Since there are only 5 boats, we have agreed to continue with some training in the mornings and to keep the races short. This way we can get in as much training as possible and benefit from having to excellent coaches available to us.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Halifax Training Day 3

Jen here,

Today we trained in a variety of conditions out in St. Margaret's Bay.  We focused on line ups and communication between crew and skipper, as well as combining kinetics with sheeting in order to balance the rig.  At one point our coach, Dave, hopped into the boat and I took the opportunity in coach boat to drive around and look at each helm's steering and sheeting style.  This served to reiterate my goal of "drive less and sheet more." 
 At one point a squall blew through and so for about twenty minutes or so we had some very nice 15-18 knot breeze and could get the boats into upwind planing mode. After a few days in light air this felt really nice.  After the squall blew through, the wind quickly went soft and eventually we towed in.  I sailed in with Teddy, one of the sailors from Halifax who came to Europe this summer.   He's a talented crew and sailing with someone new always gives me the opportunity to see how someone else interprets things and communicates. 

Tomorrow the breeze is supposed to pick up and we should get some nice planing conditions.  We'll see how Teddy's boat performs in the breeze!


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Halifax Training Day 2

We had a good session today in light to medium winds. Lots of line ups with the other boats and some short and long races. The focus was on kinetics, with Dave demonstrating how to pump from the trapeze in his plaid shirt and foul weather pants. Dave jumped into the boat with me for awhile to try and sort out some sail shape issues (I had accidentally turned the spreaders the wrong way) and to discuss trapezing and communication in the boat. Afterwards we had a good debrief with lots of video and some massage from the sports centre massage therapist. Its great to have so many coaches and resources available to us at this camp! Photos below.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Halifax Training Day 1

Jen here,

Today was the first day of training here in Halifax and the breeze was very very light.  There are five teams participating in the training camp, as well as our coaches Dave and Brian.  We spent yesterday putting the boats together as most of us are borrowing boats for the camp and event.  Today we focused on boat handling and short course work.  It's really nice to be back in a training setting after three months of racing.  We now have the opportunity to work on some of the boat handling issues that have been nagging us throughout the summer. 
Our pointing seems to have improved significantly in the light breeze, and we're working to slow down our maneuvers in order to make them smooth and powerful. 
After training we debriefed and received physiotherapy and massages.  This was definitely a great was to end the day.  Three months of racing has certainly taken its toll on our bodies-there seems to be a bone in the wrong spot in one of my hands and I think that my IT bands are tight enough that you could use them to play the violin. Erin is in a very similar stage as well.

Now we're back at Karen's house. Karen is the crew of the women's team from Halifax and she is hosting the entire Canadian 470 fleet at her place.  The ten of us are enjoying a nice communal living atmosphere with shifts making pasta in the kitchen and our five little 470's all lined up in a row back at St. Margaret's Bay Sailing Club.  This camp may be a far cry from the 200 boats at Worlds or the 90 boats at Europeans, but 470 Canadians will be a good little event.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Back in Canada

Jen here,

We arrived in Halifax last night after 24 hours in transit and it feels great to be back on Canadian soil.  Our coach, Brian Todd, picked us up at the Halifax airport and took us out to his farm to sleep and recoup for a day-which was just what the doctor ordered after a transatlantic flight.  He clearly knows how to deal with travel weary and bedraggled sailors, because he immediately fed us Shreddies and tucked us each into our own room with our own lovely bed and farm quilt.  This morning Brian took me for a walk around his property where there is a beautiful waterfall. Tomorrow we start a training camp with the sailors from Halifax and our coaches Brian and Dave Hughes.  Then we sail the Canadian Nationals before coming home to BC on the 20th.
After being in cities like Istanbul, Den Hague, and Barcelona, it feels a bit funny to be in Canada.  Istanbul and its surrounding area is over two thirds the size of Canada and so this little country of ours seems so empty!  I keep finding a few thoughts running through my head on my first day back home:

1) Where is everyone?
2) Hey cool! I can drink the tap water!
3) Why does that person sound just like me when he speaks?
4) I can't sleep. It's too quiet and there is no drone of traffic to lull me to sleep.
5) The cheese is so expensive here!
6) I bet this water is clean enough sail in without getting an infection. Cool.
7) Maybe without the language barrier people will think I'm funny. Then again, maybe not...
8) What's the exchange rate between CAD and CAD again???
9) Where have the comforting sounds of techno and the comforting smell of sewer gone?
10) I can stop drinking Nescafe and start drinking double doubles!

It's great to be (almost) home! One week of training and the Canadian Champs here and then back to BC.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sept 7 - Europeans Complete

Well the weather in Istanbul has returned to normal so the 470 event must be over! We had one race yesterday morning which actually got started on schedule. It was about 8-10 knots but really puffy and shifty. With the medal race competitors missing from our fleet there was lots of room on the start line and clean air. Our race had its high points and its low points. We had great upwind speed and point and with clean air managed to play the shifts and round ahead of 4 boats. The reach legs were a bit of an issue with our spinnaker however. It does not fly well on the reach, and took me a long time to set on the first reach. We were passed while trying to get the spin flying and lost our focus for most of the downwind. The second upwind was good and we gained back a boat. We stayed ahead of them but had a rather embarrassing capsize right as we crossed the finish line when we were hit with a big gust! Everyone headed back to shore and started packing up. We packed up "Quatchi" and sent the boat back to Germany where it will spend the winter. It was a bit sad seeing the boat leave as we have finally replaced almost everything on the boat.
Those sailors who did not immediately head home went out for some fun in Kadikoy in the evening. Imagine a quiet Monday evening during Ramadan and then 80 sailors squeezing themselves into one bar to relax after 7 days of racing! This morning we packed up our bags and said goodbye to our garden shed. There was a bit of excitement when I discovered my lifejacket was missing. One of the Turkish 420 sailors had grabbed it by accident and was wearing it on the water. Our friend Shevy managed to get it back for me and we piled into the Istanbul Yacht Club van and were driven to our hostel in Sultanahmed (with much confusion and backing down narrow streets and getting lost). We are staying here for the next few days with a German sailor Morten. We will do a bit of sightseeing and then we fly to Halifax on Friday.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sunday Sept 5 - Stormy Weather

We were postponed on shore for a few hours this morning as a big storm cell passed through. We hid in the garden shed while it rained. I copied some club music off Tina's computer while Jen tidied and Tina and Sanni re-organized their toolboxes. We were eventually sent out at 3 pm. We geared up in everything we own like in Weymouth (or Holland, or Kiel, it hasn't been a warm summer!) and hit the water. The wind was light but then another cloud passed overhead and the breeze picked up. Jen and I had the usual discussion about which pin setting to be in. We settled on a setting and the boys managed to get a start off without a general. (I shouldn't complain, we are just as bad but we usually are the 3rd start). We had a terrible start and headed out to the left. This was in fact a terrible race. We couldn't point upwind, we couldn't focus and I couldn't get the spinnaker system set up properly on the reach. The breeze was down to about 8-10 knots but huge puffs were rolling down the course and were difficult to see on the water. We re-grouped before the next race, and got some tips from the Danish coach who had followed us for a bit on the second beat. The next race was better. Our start wasn't great but we tacked out into clean air and were able to point. We rounded behind but caught a few boats on the downwind. The second upwind was good, we managed to capitalize on some shifts and pulled off a nice leebow on another boat at the windward mark (I don't think they were pleased, but they tack on us every upwind leg so fair's fair).

Another day done at sundown. Tomorrow is the last day of Europeans. The medal races will take place at 3:00 pm and the final race for everyone else will be at 11:00 am.
More pictures in the Turkey album as well as some pictures of us in the event photo gallery (images 19, 25 and 26 from Day 4.)

Friday and Saturday Racing

Sorry for the lack of updates, we are getting tired as the event goes on and the internet is in and out. Friday we had an 11 am start scheduled but were postponed on shore until 1 while they raced the men's fleets to finish the qualifying series. We sailed 3 races; the first in light wind with big gusts and the next two in heavy wind with big gusts. We had a good day, we managed to not capsize in the heavy wind on the last race and passed two boats who did. The three races put us back on schedule so we had a 1 pm start for Saturday.
Saturday we went out for 1 pm start and drifted around for an hour in no wind. Every one geared down in the heat so imagine 100 boats drifting around in bikinis and speedos (the Italians) with piles of clothing in the bottom of the boats. The race committee finally put up the flag to postpone us back on shore. We managed to get a tow with the speedo wearing Italians; the wind came up while towing in. We only sat on shore long enough to eat some lunch and then headed back out. We had 2 races in light and gusty conditions from the N. We had an amazing start in the first race of the day and were sailing up with the leaders briefly. We struggled with our upwind tactics - the first beat we went left and a huge right shift came in at the top. The next beat the wind had been left for 20 minutes or so, so we headed right at the top but the righty never came in! By the second race of the day we had pretty much lost the ability to focus. The fleet was very tight in this last race, the entire fleet rounded the first downwind mark within 2 minutes of each other. We were with the pack until the end of the second beat when we slipped back. We finished racing in the dark and got a tow in with the Germans.

We have a 1 pm start scheduled for today (Sunday) but a big black rain cloud is threatening so we will see what happens!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Europeans Day 3 - 5 Races Complete

Three days into Europeans we have sailed 5 races. Yesterday morning we woke up when a storm rolled in at about 1 am. The storm continued, bringing clouds and rain and very cold temperatures with it. We launched at noon for a 1 pm start in about 15 knots from the North. The wind increased and it rained while we tuned up. Then it died off. After the usual 45 minute wait while the men's fleets had several general recalls, we got a race started in about 6 knots. It was abandoned on the first downwind after a 60 degree shift came through. We then sat around for a few hours freezing while the wind went from a light and shifty northerly to an even lighter and shiftier southerly. We eventually got in two races. The wind continued to shift left however the race committee didn't seem to be able to move the windward mark as fast as the wind could shift so both races were drag races. We struggled to get off the starting line and there were very few opportunities to catch up with no need to tack more than twice to make the windward mark. We had some excitement in the first race when our centreboard block exploded, sending tiny ball bearings flying all over the boat. We hit the dock as the sun set and raced to get warm and eat some food.

Today the start time was bumped up to 11 am. The forecast for the day was for a light northerly, but when has a forecast been accurate during a championship? We launched in about 8 knots from the south. We tuned up with the Bulgarian girls and got a race started at about 12. We played the shifts upwind and had a very good reach leg. The wind suddenly increased before the second race and kept increasing up to about 20 knots. We pinned down a half pin and checked the settings and then pinned down a half pin and checked the settings... we went down 2.5 pins in 0.5 increments over a period of 20 minutes! We had a good race and were with our "pack" at the back. We passed one Turkish boat when they capsized on the first downwind, a Greek boat when they capsized on the second downwind and another Turkish boat on the second upwind. We were quite pleased and were 100 m from the finish on the bottom reach when the boat suddenly capsized to windward! We are still not sure what happened - Jen said it was like the rudder got ripped out of her hand, so perhaps we snagged a plastic bag or jellyfish or something! When we righted the boat the spinnaker was acting as a sea anchor. We frantically tried to retrieve it but the Turkish boat we had passed upwind sailed across the finish line before we could get going again.

We re-rigged the kite while sailing up to the line for the next race. We had an ok start and a good first upwind. The waves were very large by now, so the downwind was lots of fun surfing. By the second upwind fatigue was starting to set in and we were struggling to maintain height. The Turkish boat behind us managed to hoist their spinnaker a bit faster on the reach. We were neck and neck downwind; but they managed to just squeeze ahead of us on the bottom reach.

Overall it was a good day. We managed to finish all the races in the breeze and to not capsize in the last race, which is a definite improvement on Weymouth and Worlds.

Here are some links for the event: Results     Event News     Event Website     Event Photos

There is live tracking on the website; as well as regular updates on Facebook and twitter.

We have an 11 am start again tomorrow. We are ignoring the forecasts as they are all wrong anyways. Hopefully it will warm up!