So you want to goto your second Olympics?

The Olympic Venue

In May this year, I had what I needed to make a very short 3 week comeback to win the first section of the Olympic Trials in Weymouth, England.  I was ready to buy lots of new gear to test it all out. But, uh oh, the manufacturer was out of stock,  and there is only one manufacturer. But at least they had new fins, so, I bought 4 and started doing my scientific method. By the time I got them it was a week before the trials started.  While testing my gear in Weymouth, my fast mast snapped which was also the mast I used to win the last trials.  Testing between my “Old Glory” and the newer sail that I suffered with in Miami showed that “Old Glory”, was the speedier one so I thought.  But, I wasn’t so sure which mast was faster.  Now, if I  know my 10 regatta old sail is faster than a 10 day old sail, I should have put it in the rubbish bin!  But, no, I raced the first Olympic trials on “Old Glory” because that’s all I had and was probably feeling sentimental with it.  And, yes, it was pathetic to say the least. I couldn’t hold my line. I was slow and I pushed so hard on the starts that I got 2 OCS’s (premature starts) in qualifying sealing the deal for me to have an all time worst regatta in Weymouth.  I was fuming at the time. Should I just quit or figure out this game again?  Nope, things were turning around, and starting up a nutrition business was supporting some of the “day to day” expenses. Plus, I still hadtime and money left from the first fundraiser to figure out exactly what went wrong.

So I spent the next 2 months in Weymouth, England testing equipment for the second Olympic trials to take place in Australia.  I did not buy any new sails but, I was able to test the daylights out of my new fins.. My newer Miami sail was clearly faster, but with a different mast!  My Weymouth trials fin was second slowest out of 6 I had. But one fin was impressively fast, so I put that one away. I still wasn’t pointing  very well. But my board was fast. I tested it against others and it was a quick one.  I was getting it figured out finally, and feeling like I really had a viable chance of still winning the trials.

Tuning forks please!

After leaving Weymouth, I went to Bermuda for more training and to work on starting up the new business. Later,I went back to Italy for more training i.  It was good to finally be somewhere warm again!  In Italy my preparation was for the European championships in Bulgaria where I was ready for light wind.  Little did anyone know that it is actually a windy venue. The forecaster and 4 friends that had raced there advised me

Racing at the European Championships

it was super light.  So, I had left my best gear in Italy, because airlines are known to destroy our precious windsurfing gear with careless bag handlers that like to surf it down the ramp onto the tarmac .  Needless to say, it blew 15-18 everyday. I was screwed. I was going as slow as dog poo and the only shipment of gear was taking ages to arrive. .  I finally got a new sail. Wow, is what I said when I rigged it. This looks fast. It had a very fat leading edge. I put it on my only mast that I had brought and on the water it went way faster than my other sail.  I was competitive. But my fin was still slow so I bought a new one of those.  I finally had world class speed on port.  Remember, in sailing you have to go on both starboard and port tacks to get to the first mark. So, I tried twisting the fin in the fin box but still couldn’t get it to balance out.  Still on this set up, I tied my personal best at the European championships, some 33 positions ahead of my final score in the Weymouth World Cup and Olympic trials.  I’ve never focused on European races, nor am I a European, I don’t peak at every event I attend. I don’t have that kind of time, money or team.  But I can peak for key events well which are the Olympic Trials and the Olympic Games.

Right after the conclusion of the European Championships, I came back to Italy for the Italian Championships.  Air Italia had lost our gear again and it was going to show up..half way through the regatta.  So I borrowed gear once again, but had with me my fastest fin.  I won the

Winning the Italian Championships

opening 5 races with that fin, and that borrowed sail was a quick one too; but, I had to give that back.  How frustrating!  Next day my new Bulgaria sail arrived and I put it together with my fastest mast.  Wow, two more wins with even more speed.  Ok, that’s a fast sail.  It was my benchmark Olympic trials sail now.  A few more weeks of training went by in Italy and then I headed back to England for more cold, windy and wet weather. And boy did it blow. Most days 20+.  I bought another sail and started testing that one. It clearly was slower and much more shallow, but these sails need some breaking in time as well. My Bulgarian sail, aka “Big Bulge” was at the 10 days of use mark and if I used it for the trials I didn’t want any more than 15 days on it. It affects pointing and speed that much as I learned from driving “Old Glory” into the ground.  I found a new combination with a new mast, and added another nice twist to the sail, I measured it all out as well and tested it on the water.  I made great headway.  Arguably, the world’s best wasn’t putting any distance on me anymore.

Operation boomerang

Perth, Australia might as well be the furthest place away from America.  Friendly people, big outdoors, roo’s, boomerangs and toilets that spin the other way.  Ok, so imagine coming to the airport to leave for Australia with huge flying saucers and saying yeah we’re going to need to check this in.  Yes, I had tons of gear and all my fastest equipment to bring to Australia.  Usually, airport personnel panic, calling supervisors and otherwise asking weird questions like, “What’s in there, Gadafi?” . The price fluctuates from free to my highest of $450, not bad considering doing this for 10 years.  So, they weighed my gear this time which isn’t normal at all. Then they quoted me a price of $6000 USD for me to bring it with me one way. A first class ticket for a fat person weighing double my gear weight is less than the price for my gear to fly to Australia.

I then asked for his supervisor and he “was” the supervisor.  An awfully awkward moment occurred which was me sorting out in 20 minutes how I was going to get my gear to Australia to win the Olympic trials and not miss my flight and lose the thousands of dollars ticket to rebook.  And, yes, I read the baggage carriage policy.  He said that it says right (somewhere he pointed which was 7 pages ahead of where it says they take windsurfing gear) there. I gave him the best emotional plea for help I’ve dished out for years. Still he definitely didn’t care.  So, I went to a

Board DRAMA!

shipping service for excess baggage and they assured me they could deliver it for much less, only $700, to ship it down there! But that would take a week, I couldn’t be without training for a week this soon before my Olympic trials.  I took out my running shoes, and checked into the airline where they would give me 23 kilos of free space for any bag. I checked in my 1st to 3rd fastest gear until I was at the 23 kilo limit.  All I had to wait on while in Australia was my board, but no problem, I had a back up board already shipped down there!  I literally showed up in Australia with the shirt on my back and my windsurfing sails and masts.

So 7 days transpire and I finally get my board in the mail. On arrival and inspection the front half is limp. The board had been forklifted in half. Split in two pieces, my fastest board was a goner . My dreams of winning these trials were also looking grim. As I learned in the past regattas, my gear was my main limitations in the breeze and now my best board was destroyed by incompetent shippers.  I got on the horn and indeed a shipment of 20 boards was on the way the next day to Perth, Australia. What great timing right!  Well, if they were all for sale..they were all pre sold! Ugh, how frustrating…as I was having  a restless night figuring out how much and how long it would take to air freight a board from Thailand. Someone decided not to purchase a board from the

Putting Humpty Dumpty back together

distributor here, glory halleluiah!  I promptly picked up my new board the next day and can’t be happier with it’s performance. Fast all a rounder. I got lucky.  The past two weeks I’ve been sporadically testing my fastest kit, but ensuring it doesn’t see too much sunlight till trials day. It’s fast and speed won’t be my limitations here, nor will it be the reason why I would  lose these trials. No, I plan on winning these trials because I can race better.  It’s almost go time. It’s been the most ridiculous and awesome journey.  I’ll take some good luck any day. But also know I can take on the bad luck with the best of them. A regatta or any of them are the same. No matter how important the outcome, our ability to overcome the obstacles is a necessity. I’m ready and this is how I’ve done it.  Oh, did I mention that the Olympic Games is supplied equipment? That means all the competitors get a random allocation of new gear. I hope I get lucky there too.


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