The Racing Action!!

Back in Qingdao it was back to business, the forecast for the first few days was for light winds.  Day 1 brought 8 knots of winds from the seabreeze direction and it was incredibly choppy and noisy with helicopters flying overhead the entire time.  The first race I had a great start, headed upwind with super high intensity crossed back over the rest of the fleet back to the right in around 5th place and then lost about 5 more when I crossed back left.  When I crossed back left, I had to duck MEX, on port it was close and he protested me, I was like great, not even 10 minutes of racing and I had to do my circle, I did my 360 and then was in about 20th place, not good.  I pushed hard downwind, but I felt off, I couldn’t reel them back in as I did in training.  So I finished the first race in 21st out of 36, mid fleet blues.  After the finish MEX said he was going to protest me for not doing a 720..I almost lost it, during the Olympic trials I was protested for not doing a 720 as well..because the actual rule is a 360 penalty turn.  He later figured it out, and apoligzed.  I had to mentally regroup again for the second race.  I went back left and this time I was off on the shift and rounded deep at the top mark, I did my best to catch about 15 people but  at the last mark my footstrap became tangled around the mark, the Beijing 2008 logo had a rope on the bottom of it that tied a twisted knot around my footstrap, I was like you’ve got to be kidding, I had to jump in the water to untangle my board.  By the time I got up it was too late and I was really really frustrated, I had finished worse than some of my worst performances of the season.  Disappointed was an understatement. 

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Day 2 wasn’t better the wind was lighter and I was off on the shifts and speed, I couldn’t hold onto the leaders in my speed and got further frustrated and exhausted, it was only day 2 and I was already feeling tired.   I got a tow back to the harbor with the Slovak team as I couldn’t find my coach for the day.  I just wanted to cry on my pillow, I was having a nightmare of a regatta, this is THE regatta and I was sailing bad, worse than my average all season, and everywhere I went on the race course was the wrong way and I was slow.  I couldn’t figure it out, I added pressure to my battens, I changed downhaul, I reshimmed my centerboard, I pumped slower and faster nothing seemed to work like it did in training. 


Day 3 turned into day 4 then 5 as the next few scheduled race days there wasn’t enough wind to race.  We’d go out then sail back in, races were abandoned, while my results stayed mid fleet.  I knew I had much more in me.  Race 5 finally happened on the 6th day and we had to wait until really late, the wind was offshore and about 9 knots, a good condition for me.  I rounded the first mark in 15th, then caught more on the downwind to get to 11th then back upwind into the top 10, I felt like the time off the last few days helped, then on the last downwind to the finish, the wind shut off then shifted 30 degrees and all the guys behind went right around the leaders.  I went back to the mid twenties and extremely frustrated again. My bad luck continued, momentum was going the wrong way,I wasn’t positive and I was depressed at such high scores so early in the regatta. I knew I had to stay positive, focus on the process and get around my weaknesses.

Race 6 happened a day later in the middle of stormy weather.  The regatta was behind schedule and there was a large system of low pressure sweeping in the area that made 20+ knots of wind and high seas, great everything the statistics said that wouldn’t happen.  First race I had a great start then slowly drifted back, my speed was way off in the breeze, I later found out it was because my battens were too tight, the new sail was much more sensitive to this than my other sails I used all season.  The rain continued to pour, I couldn’t open both eyes, one was shut and one was lookging around.  Nobody could see the marks as the visibility was terrible because of the rain, I was sure they would abandon the race because of the storms, but no cigar, they decided to race another.  At this point, everybody had that uh oh face, and after we started one after another fell, as the board would get lifted and thrown upside down.  My turn to fell came, I got back up and had to catch up, so I did passed 12 people and got back to my dreaded mid fleet.  Was going decently fast again as I released the battens and was going ok again with speed, but was less than tuned in as I had not focused on this much wind since 4 months ago in Europe.  Still I managed a better day than the second place overall guy and things changed in the regatta a lot with the leaders at that point.

Two more days pass waiting for the wind, the race committee needed more races in,  we had an early start and it turned out to be great wind, 12-15 knots my sweet spot.  I was in the top ten all race, until, yes I hate saying until, but that was the story of this regatta, until the last downwind, where I had a plastic bag on my fin, I couldn’t shake it off, I got passed slowly by 7 people to finally get it off and finish in the teens, not good but well I took what score I could muster at that point.  By the end of that race it was it was getting light, back to around 6-7 knots, I raced hard, but was again a little slow, little off and finished again deep.  We had one more race scheduled but we had to go in first, I found my ride in with James from the US, who was very helpful.  We took a new approach with the current on the next race, we started late in the day I hit the left side hard and was in 3rd place and the rest of the fleet way behind when they abandoned the race with the left shift that came in.  I was just like…why why why???!  Give me some love..any.  It was hard to see all my family watch me suffer, I hate losing, it’s hard to talk when things go the other way. I had to remind myself to keep at it, sail like hell and focus on the game.


Here are some areas I would like to improve:

1)   speed and technique (with the new gear I wasn’t nearly as in sync as I was in training) Spend more time refining technique to improve efficiency

2)   do training much more similar to racing (much of my training were in practice races about 15 minutes long, which is less than half the time of a normal race and my technique fell apart towards the end of each race

3)   have consistent coaching support (at the olympics I had a different coach each day, and their priority was other athletes, this I’ll have to change with US Sailing at the next one)

4)   sail more carefully when tired, frustrated (it’s easy to feel good when your ahead, but it takes more focus to ensure that you don’t make the little errors when under high stress) This cost me many points in the regatta

      focus much harder on the international fleet and not the US fleet (I spent most of my time training to win the Olympic trials, which is a much smaller event and changes the tactical nature of racing substantially.  I’d use more time focusing on winning the worlds each year, than just winning the trials every 4 years.

Not be so hard on myself, I have the second best results at the Olympiad since gebis results when he raced last. For my first olympics they are in-line with first time racing Olympians

7)   25 of the 36 athletes at the olympics were 2-5 time Olympians and the 11 that weren’t were almost all towards the back. So I won that group.

8)   Do less all by myself, I am a bit too independent with training sometimes, and need to engage in more training partners and organized training with the worlds best more consistently.