Lago di Garda Training Camp
Moving on from Lake Garda is going to be a challenge! After a month at the North end of Lake Garda, we have started to feel very much at home with 400m deep fresh water, 2000m mountains on each side, early morning northerlies, and strong southerly Ora in the afternoons. This has been a perfect training base, helping us make strides in our development. Leaving this place will be difficult, but the memories and progress made here will carry on throughout this campaign!
Starting our Garda training camp we inviting former Great Britain 49er Crew, Rick Peacock, to coach us for seven days. This was one of the highlight that made this month so positive for D&D Racing. These were the seven most productive training days we have had. The plan was to work on starting technique and boat-handling, with a focus on decision making, communication, and execution. Getting off the line is critical to having good results and this was the time to start developing that skill!
Training camps with a coach like Rick will be completely necessary and invaluable to this campaign. Holding a training camp like this in preparation for every regatta is the best way to ensure success. The value of training with Rick was clearly evident at the regatta to follow. We made huge gains in almost every aspect of our game, including: boat-handling through the range of conditions, mental toughness and preparation, pre race routines, and communication throughout a race. This camp was made possible by a very generous donor. If fundraising allows, we will plan ten more camps like this between now and the Olympic Trials this winter.
Garda Trentino Olympic Week Regatta
This regatta was the first time we had put all of the pieces of starting together; building a plan for the first beat, selecting a starting position and style that would allow us to follow our first beat strategy, and having the boat-handling to execute our plan. The Lake Garda race course is interesting with cliffs on one side of the race course known as “The Wall.” Classic logic is, it’s a race to The Wall, but this isn’t necessarily true. There are good places and bad places to reach The Wall. The pre-start plan focused on where we wanted to hit the wall. Sometimes the plan was to start on port and be the first boat to the wall, other times the plan was to have a conventional starboard start and tack after 30 seconds. It was important to position yourself with freedom to tack at will to match your first beat strategy. Not only do you need clear air and the ability to hold a lane, but you must maintain control of your destiny with the ability to sail the beat you planned.
Up the beat, after hitting the wall once, there were often several short tacks up the wall to reach layline. 43 boats with similar strategies makes for close racing in heavy traffic. Tacking in phase with shifts and traffic, and tacking well was often the difference between rounding the weather mark in the top five or in the pack. This is one of the key points in the racing where the difference between passing boats and being passed was minimal. A time when excellent boat-handling and communication was rewarded!
Rounding the weather mark, most of the fleet would gybe set to get back to the wall. Being able to identify and execute a great gybe set was key to holding a lane down the run. Similar to the beat, hitting the wall at the right place down the run pays off. This is another time when the theme of having a clean lane with the option to gybe away as you please is a big part of success. Another moment in every race where it became clear that our training was paying off! You always expect regatta maneuvers to be slightly worse than practice maneuvers. When the tiller must turn in two seconds to avoid a collision the boat is not always settled or sailing perfectly entering maneuvers. You don’t need the perfect gybe, you need an excellent gybe…a keeper. This allows us to cleanly execute our plan to get down the run, always passing boats.
Finishing 16th of 43 as top American team, and growing tremendously made this a very successful training regatta in our buildup to the 2016 Olympic Games!
Our next regatta starts on the 26th of May in Medemblik, Holland. The Delta Lloyd regatta is the qualifier for the next ISAF Sailing World Cup in Weymouth, UK. In preparation, the next two weeks will be split between our last days of training in Lake Garda and a training camp in Medemblik. We need help to secure a coach to make this training camp as productive as Garda!
We are still in the beginning of a long journey to the top, but we are well on our way. We are always meeting the goals we set for ourselves. Going forward we must continue to set ambitious goals, always pushing ourselves to new limits.