The Miami Experience

Going the right direction but slow - Miami 2011

So here is my true story about “Old Glory.” You see, “old glory” wasn’t just a name of a famous battleship, it was my coined name for the sail that got me a top ten in the 2009 World Cup in Weymouth England.  Well, it wasn’t always so glorious. The week before the 2009 worlds, I was as slow as the double decker bus. The phenomenal speed difference was (you guessed it)  attributed to a mast and a fin.  Now mid year 2009 I started taking a break.  I bought no new equipment for the next 18 months.   I knew  ”old glory” and the right combination would come  through for all the key events.  Four months later, with zero time on the water, I strolled up to the North Americans and won decisively, I was still flying.

A week later during the Miami World Cup, I was still going strong, although, I was starting to slow down in the breeze…and I wasn’t sure why. I tossed it off as random occurrence. Then I went to the next 6 events with the same exact set up and kept on getting slower and slower.  I wasn’t training as much either, so I attributed it to not training as hard as I should have been for the event. So I spent 3 months building my time on the water for the  2011 World Cup in Miami in January.  Most of the training was on my own. But,  it came down to technique and racing at the end of the day.  Little did I know it was the beginning of my nightmare. Obviously, “old glory” was getting old with 9 regattas already on it.  So,I got a new sail. And wow did it feel different!  By this time my fastest fin had broken in half,  so, I used another fin that I thought was good as well.

This Miami World Cup event is typically a light air venue, and I usually do very well in my home environment.  It was light everyday in Miami, except the first four days of racing. Actually everyday of that regatta was planning, and I had zero time tuning up in the breeze.  Bam, I was out the back pumping harder than all my competitors and still slower.   Wow, this was an shocking surprise.  I now look back at that event and laugh. I know exactly what went wrong and I’ll tell you in a minute.  At the time, I blamed it on a gasket breaking, forcing me to retire from a race.  I also blamed it on the board, or mast.

This large “slap in my face” started to gel. I knew that I was pretty close in size to all the fastest sailors and I couldn’t imagine my technique being that far off.  I finally understood that I needed new equipment.  But, I needed to find a way to buy more equipment quickly, and that equipment costs a lot of money, tens of thousands of dollars. I hadn’t started up the fundraising machine in over 2 years and was seriously getting tired of asking people to help me win.  I can’t just family bankroll my Olympic campaign like many of my American competitors.

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