Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Back in Weymouth

So we are back in Weymouth and begin training again tomorrow. A re-cap on recent adventures: Last week we were in Medemblik, Holland for the Delta Lloyd Regatta. The event featured lots of wind - so much that they cancelled racing on Day 3 and Day 5 of the event. We struggled a bit in the big wind conditions but nothing like last year. We still capsized a fair bit but when we were upright we were fast; twice making it to the windward mark in 9th. We worked with Dayne Sharp at this event. While not a 470 specific coach like Bunny or Dave; he is a great coach. He really helped us with understanding downwind tactics and angles and general racing strategy, as well as making some very key comments to improve our heavy wind sailing.

We left the regatta early due to some logistical complications and so missed the last race on Sunday. I won't go into details but basically we had assumed racing would be done Saturday and we needed to deliver our coach-boat back to Weymouth. We drove Saturday night and caught the 7 am ferry from France to England. We arrived Sunday morning in Weymouth, unpacked the boat and gave it to Sam to work on and ran some errands and then went to bed! Monday we took off (I slept and watched movies, it was glorious). Today we got the boat back from Sam and set it up again. We had some minor fiberglass repairs done as well as sanding and buffing the hull. The boat is now white again instead of scum colored! We also switched masts today, as we put a small bend in our mast in Holland from sticking it in the mud (the water is only about 12 feet deep). We have straightened the mast, but will now use it as our back-up only.

We are once again working with coach Bunny; as well as a Russian team. We are partnering with them to share coaching costs and also hopefully to develop a long-term training partnership. We are really excited about this as it is an amazing opportunity. It basically means we can afford twice the coaching and we are no longer going it alone. We have another boat to compare settings with and work with which is awesome. This event will be the trail event and then hopefully we will continue to work together throughout 2011 at Europeans and Worlds etc.

Skandia Sail for Gold is the next event. Racing starts Monday June 6th here in Weymouth, England at the 2012 Olympic Venue. This event is our first Olympic qualifier - if we place top Canadian we will have a spot at the Pre-Olympics here in Weymouth in August as well as a spot at the 2011 World Championships in Perth, Australia.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Day 4 Medemblik

Just a short post. We just got off the water it is 6 pm. We had 2 races in 18-22 knots. The first race we had an awesome start and were rocking and then we capsized a bunch upwind. Then a bit more downwind. Nevermind, we finished the race! Next race we had a not so great start but were rocking upwind. Managed to stick with the fleet and tack on the knocks and were top 10 when capsized just before mark. Got it up really quick and the rest of the race was solid. Chewing down boats on the upwind (when we are upright we are wicked fast) then lost a few on the downwind. Finished with the fleet, ahead of some boats. We'll see what the results show, I don't know how many boats dropped out etc. So a decent day except for the fact that it was not warm and raining. Ah Northern Europe, how we love you! 2 more races tomorrow, off for some warm dinner.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Day 3 in Medemblik

This morning we are waiting on shore to see what happens. We have a 2 pm scheduled start but all the other fleets just got sent in due to too much wind, so we will see what happens.

Yesterday it was sunny and there was no wind in the morning; we had a 1.30 start that was postponed by 2 hours. We fixed our gasket and sat around and then headed out at 2 pm. We tuned up and had our first race around 3.30. The wind was super patchy and shifty, more pressure on the left. We didn't have a great start and went too far left on the first beat. The second beat we tried to consolidate back towards the centre and got caught too far right out of the pressure! We ended up a few boats from the back of the fleet. The second race was abandoned half way through because a 40 degree shift came through and we were flying our spinnakers into the windward mark. We thought it might be home time after that (it was after 6 pm) but they let the new wind fill in and we had another race. It was similiar to the first, patchy breeze around 4-6 knots with big pressure bands coming through. We got rolled off the start by the World Champions, but managed to clear our air. Then we were mostly just confused tactically for the whole race! We were at the back of the pack but I have to say our reaching was much much better. We didn't lose any boats on the reaches and pulled off some really good mark roundings on the reach legs, so that was really great. It was a long day on the water and we got in just after 8 pm. We had a really good tactical discussion with our coach over dinner and have some new ideas to implement in the future.

Hopefully we will get in some racing today! You can check the event website for more info.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Day 1 of Racing in Holland

Jen here,

Well, day 1 of the Delta Lloyd regatta is down and it was a doozy!  The breeze was a really nice 22-25knts and we set out on our 3 mile sail to the race course feeling good.  It was a bit dodgy, though, because with trying to weave in and around the other race courses, it took us a bit longer than we anticipated to get to the course and so our warm up time was quite minimal.  Nonetheless, we had a great first start and the boat felt high and fast throughout the first race.  Hmm...it all would have been terrific if we'd gone the right way!  We didn't loose out too much, though, and rounded the top mark in 9th place.  Unfortunately, we had a bit of an altercation with a Chinese boat, and had to do take penalty turns on the downwind.  We finished the race in 20th but were generally happy with our performance within the race.
Ironically, the second race scored us a better result with a 17, but we were much less satisfied with our sailing.  The boat seemed sluggish and it was difficult to find the grove upwind.  We also enjoyed two fairly fantastic capsizes, first on the start line at about a minute and a half to go (yours truly didn't ease enough vang when she bore away).  No worries, we got the boat up and off the line.  The second capsize was right into the finish reach where we got a bit cheeky and decided to fly the kite in on a reach.  We figured, hey the top boats did it! Aaand, we practised reach sets all last week with Bunny in England...I'm sure it'll be just fine!  Well, let's just say our pride suffered a bit on that one!

Things are coming along well, though, and we're pleased with our progress in breeze over last year.  Tomorrow is set to be a light day, so the new challenge will be shifting back into light air sailing after training in breeze for the past two weeks.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

May 22 - Training In Medemblik

Today was our first day of training on the water in Medemblik. It is a very cute small town in northern Holland. From the map it looks like the water we are sailing on connects to the North Sea, but it is in fact dammed off. The water is mostly fresh water because so much of it is water pumped off the fields! To get to the sailing centre you drive along the road which is on top of the dyke right along the water. The town itself is full of small canals that the houses back onto. Each family seems to have their own tiny motor boat and yesterday everyone had taken to the canal with a picnic to enjoy the sunny Sunday. There are sheep and cows and goats everywhere; the canals act as fences to keep them in pasture. There are also lots of ponies - Jen is determined to either ride one or bring one home!

We had a good 2 hour session today in confusing wind conditions. The wind was from the SW so blowing off shore and generated by a series of small black clouds. It averaged probably around 18 knots but was up to 25 and down to 12 very suddenly. The waves are very short and choppy and close together as the water is so shallow. We stuffed the bow into one in our first gybe of the day and discovered just how shallow it was when we capsized! A bit of mud on the top of the sail and Jen's mast head indicator was destroyed but otherwise no harm done. The boat is ready to go for the regatta. Our coach for the event (Dayne Sharp) arrives tomorrow morning. We will train with him tomorrow and then racing starts on Tuesday.

Now back to our Ikea bungalow (more on this later) in the bungalow park which features a petting zoo, bowling alley, mini golf, and swimming pool!

Pictures from Weymouth and Holland

Here is the link to the Album I have created. Check back for more pictures soon!
Weymouth - Holland 2011

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Arrived in Holland

Jen here,

We wrapped up our week of training in Weymouth with coach Bunny, and have just arrived in Medemblik for Delta Lloyd regatta.   We spent six days with Bunny, training in beautiful 12-18 knot breezes each day and working on a check list of items. Essentially we sailed in a square for six days, working on tacks, gybes, reaches, and straight line speed up and downwind.  Both Erin and I are feeling like it was a very productive week, and we're looking forward to implementing our training into race situations.

We again housed with our wonderful German friends, Tina and Sanni, and coach Zizi.  Between the girls and Zizi, and the various German team mates who drop by for dinners, we've dubbed our place the "German/Canadian commune."  The result is that there's techno aplenty, lots of bread, meat, and cheese, and some Sunny Boy cereal always on the stove.  It also means that to get to the Aga to do any cooking, you have to wade through all the wetsuits which are hanging to dry out each night!

Today we set the boat up here in Medemblik, and got ourselves sorted out for coach boat and logistics for the rest of the week.  It's a beautiful venue here, and I'm excited for training tomorrow with the two Canadian boats which are here as well.

We'll let you know how the week progresses!


Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday the 13th - Training with Bunny

Today was our second day on the water with our new coach Bunny, and it was great! We did a couple hours of boat-work in the morning (why not, eh?) and then finally hit the water at 1 pm. It was an intense and focused training session and it was awesome! It was so great to have our very own coach watching our every move and giving us constant feedback. With the control systems in the boat working much better we were not fighting the boat and were able to focus on sailing. We basically spent the day sailing in a huge square inside the Portland Harbor  We went upwind focusing on sailing fast at all times and making our tacks more smooth and coordinated. Once around the top mark we sailed a tight reach - our weakest point of sail and where we usually get passed by many boats when racing. Bunny was great at working us through how the maneuver is supposed to proceed and we started to get a feel for when it feels "right", something we have been struggling with for the past year. Then onto the downwind where we worked to simplify and speed up our gybes and also our strategy for approaching the bottom mark. Then another tight reach towards the break-wall and a stop for a break.

It was really helpful to work on each part of a race in order so we could think about our strategy, but because it wasn't a real race we didn't have to worry about other boats and could focus on the boat handling. I think we made some major improvements in our understanding of certain skills and techniques. We had one spectacular wipe-out where we capsized to windward turning from a reach to a run which was quite amusing; sadly we did not catch it on video! We were only on the water for three hours but we were working from start to finish and were completely exhausted at the end. It was honestly a struggle to finish my dinner I am so tired. It is 8.30 pm and I am off to bed! We should have some pictures up tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ready for training in Weymouth!

Well today was an excellent and productive day! Conveniently jet lag doesn't seem to affect me, so I managed to go to bed at 10.30 pm last night and wake up at 7 am this morning. I walked down to the Castle Cove Sailing Club to meet Morten and Jens. They transported our boat for us from Germany to Weymouth. The German Federation is currently training out of Castle, so their trailer was there with our boat on it. Morten was kind enough to drive me and the trailer over to the Weymouth-Portland National Sailing Academy, where we will be training. (Castle is quite expensive and we have received permission to train from WPNSA). I found some wind-surfers camping in the parking lot who were kind enough to help me get the boat off the trailer, and then I started digging through all the kit to see what was there!

We haven't seen the European boat "Quatchi" since 470 Europeans last September. While I trust Marlene and Annina completely (the german team who trained on our boat in October in exchange for storing it all winter) 470's are so complicated it is hard not to get confused and misplace things. Everything was pretty much there, so I moved the boat into the boat park where I found some familiar faces: Ollie and Andrew and Mike and Luke, two Canadian men's 470 teams. I started rigging and I have to say I love our European boat. It is rigged just a little bit more intuitively than our boat back at home. Things make more sense and are less complicated and they work better. The boat went together very straight-forwardly. There are a few more things to fix but nothing major. I quite early and headed back into town to pick up a few things. I haven't been to Weymouth in over a year, but I managed to navigate alright. I found the hardware store, the boat chandlery and the vodafone shop and got a good walk uphill in the process. Also, it was sunny and warm all day, which was excellent.

Tomorrow I will finish setting up the boat with our coach Bunny and go for a test-sail. Jen arrives tomorrow evening and then we will begin training on Thursday.

Arrived in Weymouth

Just a quick note to say I have arrived in Weymouth! I got in yesterday afternoon and found the Germans alright. Today I put the boat together. Jen arrives late tomorrow direct from teaching an instructor clinic in TO and we begin working with our new coach Bunny Warren.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Opening Day at Royal Victoria Yacht Club

Last Saturday was Opening Day at Royal Victoria Yacht Club. For those non-sailors, this is an annual celebration of the end of winter and the beginning of the sailing season. Members dress up in white pants and navy blazers and there is a ceremony and a sail-past, in which everyone sails past the Commodore of the club and salutes and is blessed. This year was especially fancy because it was the 100 year celebration of Royal Victoria Yacht Club becoming "Royal". It was also the day after the Royal wedding! Jen and I got dressed up (we don't own white slacks though) and participated. Ed and Dianne Life were good enough to take us aboard their boat where we had a great day of sailing in the sun. We also managed to get ourselves interviewed in the Times Colonist which was great! I'll add the article here as a permalink since the other one will probably go dead soon.