Friday, October 25, 2002

2002 IMCO Worlds- Thailand

I left San Francisco on Friday, November 22 for the 2002 IMCO World Championships in Pattaya, Thailand. 16 hours later I arrived in Bangkok. Needless to say it took me a few days to get adjusted and comfortable in my new surroundings. Like most of the other westerners, I got sick after a few days and was out of commission for close to 36 hours. After a quick recovery, I was back on the board ready for action.
My goals for the regatta were to get as much experience as possible for future races. This was my first major championship in over a year, and I knew results would only come after months of competition and training. There were 3 other members of the US Sailing team in Thailand vying to qualify the US for the 2004 Olympic regatta. Our coach, Pierre Jeangerard was also onboard for the training before the regatta. For 2-5 hours every day, we practiced speed and tuning and well as pumping drills. Towards the end of the afternoon session we would line up against sailors for New Zealand, Australia, France, Canada, Mexico and Japan to test our skills. At the end of each day we would review the video that Pierre shot and analysis out sailing technique to see what we could improve on. My light air sailing technique was improving but I felt as thought my board speed wasn’t up to par at all with the majority of the fleet. This could have been my weight-at 170 lbs I am one of the heavier sailors in the fleet-but I tried to think that if I worked harder I could keep up the pace.
For 5 days, this routine continued. Off the water, I was able to see and experience some of Thailand. One of the best things Pattaya Beach had to offer was the resort like setting. There were probably 20 spots along the beach to get a massage, and for $5 an hour, I took advantage of it afternoon.
Nov. 28: 1st day of Siam Cup-a warm up regatta before worlds. The breeze so far had not gotten much above 12 knots in the week and a half since I arrived. Light wind was in the forecast for the next week. With 5-10 knots on the water, a course was set not far from shore-with more breeze in the open water but a geographical lift near shore. What to do? I chose to sail towards the land in hopes that the lift from the land would pay off, but it was apparent that speed would be the dominating factor in these marginal conditions.
By the third race the wind finally came up to 12-15 knots and I was rounding in the middle of the fleet with finishes much better. I was trying to focus on maintaining a positive attitude despite my lackluster results.
The first day of the world championship bought with it a magnificent thunderstorm that caused a delay to racing.
Race 1: 3-6 knots. Current was with wind. Wind was filling in from right side but sometimes patchy there. Off the line I was really slow in a fleet of 60 boards, it took 2 tacks to get clear air. I tried to play the shifts up the middle right and got to the starboard lay line too early and a big left shift came + the combination of an adverse current; I had to tack 5 times to get around the windward mark. I lost a lot of places here and realized left was the way to go. By that time I was way behind the fleet and sailing through the dirty air trying to catch up. The R.C had shortened the race to finish at the next top mark with the dying wind. I went to the left side but not far enough as the boards who went further finished in front of me.
Race 2: Wind 8-12 knots dropping to 5-8. I started at pin end of line heading to what I thought was the favored side of the course. Somewhere upwind I got caught out of phase with the oscillating breeze. Downwind the wind really died and I lost a few more boards that gybed inside and caught a breeze near the shore.
Race 3: Better start and I kept working strong up the beat. I rounded in the middle of the pack but again lost several boards downwind sailing through the adverse current. The most important part of the race is the pre start preparing and the 1st 5 minutes of the beat. It is you can gain or lose the most in a relatively short period of time.
Race 5: 12-14 knots. Better conditions for me. Start was close to favored pin end. I tacked 30 seconds after the start to get over to right side. Right shift arrived and I was 20th at the windward mark. I wasn’t able to keep the same angle downwind as most others around me. Upwind the left side paid off again but downwind I was realized that I would have to work harder and more efficiently.
Race 6: Wind was out of the NW with current more or less the same. I felt as though I could point better on starboard tack but was getting killed on port tack. I didn’t get to the breeze line soon enough and boards 100 meters away were walking away with double my speed. The wind finally settled to the right side with me on the left corner-not the best place to be but I got to see the whole race unfold in front of me. A special thanks to the St. Francis Foundation for their generous grant which helped me cover the cost of traveling to Thailand.

Tuesday, October 1, 2002

2002 Olympic Pre-Trials

2000 trials

October 25th-I arrived at the US Sailing center in Marin county several days before the event so that I could become familiar with the site as well tune up against my competition. My first observation was that this was going to be a light and shifty regatta. After a few hours of tuning it was apparent that the lighter sailors had a real advantage in the light wind. This is because they can rail the board sooner –by hanging their weight off the rig and plane upwind. But on the other hand, I had a good advantage of strength and leverage with my height. I was able to get some good video of myself sailing upwind as our coach Pierre was filming in a boat behind us. Later that night we analyzed the video and found what worked and what didn’t. My light wind sailing skills were improving but I had a lot of work to before I could get to the top of the fleet in these conditions.

Race1: light winds 6-8 knots and shifty. A thunderstorm was moving in from the south. At start, I didn’t have sail trimmed correctly and suffered by not getting off in front row. I kept sailing to the left side, thinking it was favored but now I realized in the light stuff, clear air is more important! Somehow I never managed to get back into hunt and finished 5th.

Race 2: After a brief rainsquall, the R.C. started the next race. I had a much better start and got off the line clean. I choose the left side, which was the right thing to do since the first shift was coming from the left. Immediately I tacked over and was in good position rounding the top mark. The gains made by the shifty winds were very apparent with the positions changing on each leg. The next upwind leg, I had the unfortunate experience of sailing on a lift that kept going. It became apparent that Id sailed myself into the corner and had to sail the on the lay line for 10 minutes…not the right choice in this race. Again finished 5th
Race 3: wind is up a bit from previous races at 8-14 knots, still shifty. I get off the line good and into clear air thinking life is good. I round top mark in the top bunch but somehow got out finessed downwind and slip back to 5th. It is becoming apparent that I’m right behind the top 3 guys but still making some stupid mistakes and finding myself stuck in 5th place. I give it my all the last up wind and am able to slip back into 4th by catching the last upwind shift at the top mark. Smart sailing! Still I’m off the pace...hope it blows tomorrow!
Race 4: I’m just a few points out of 4th and only a few more out of 3rd. Wind is like yesterday, light and shifty, nothing over 12k! Good start and play the shifts upwind to the right side where I’m able to round in the top bunch again. I hold my position strong and finish 4th.

Race 5: Things are really starting to lighten up. The wind must have been at 8 knots and really hot. They give us a 30 min break in between races but to no avail. The heat is taking its toll. I start off strong but wasn’t able to hold my momentum through out the race and struggle to finish in 5th place again.
Race 6:Exhausted from the previous 2 races in non planning winds, I was hoping they would call it a day but the R.C. ran another race I started cleanly at the pin end and got to the breeze on the left hand side first and tacked and was a clear shot to the first mark in the breeze. I rounded 1st and kept going strong downwind with the fleet on my tail. At the downwind gate, I had the choice of going left or right. I choose the right side. Wrong decision as I got stuck in a hole and let the top 4 guys sail by me. Somehow I manage to stay in 5th. A lot of up and downs this race.This was the end of the regatta as the wind never materialized on Sunday.
Overall impression-A lot of work to do especially in the light air. This would be a good tune up for the World Championship next month in Thailand