This the the post-regatta update from the Princess Sofia Regatta here in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.
Racing wrapped up here for me on Friday. After 10 races in the Laser class, I finished the event 28th out of 135 international competitors.
The fleet experienced a wide variety of wind and wave conditions over the course of the competition. Though I left more points on the water than I would have liked, there were a number of positive takeaways.
To begin with, my percentage of good starts was 60% (6 out of 10). Though this is still lower than I’d like, it was a huge improvement from the last competition at Sailing World Cup Miami in January. This includes 3 races in the 60 boat Gold Fleet where I executed very well in a crowd at the left hand end of the start line. In these races, I was immediately clear and able to sail fast. This includes the final race of the regatta which I was leading at the top mark. In the other 4 starts, the difference was just a second or two on the timing and technique tweaks for the acceleration. The Men’s Laser is such a game of inches; it’s impossible to be too good at starting when there’s 60 guys biting, scratching, and clawing for position early in the race.
Upwind speed on the first leg was quite good as well. Coach Chris Dold was able to make some technique observations of the top guys and share these with me. In all wind strengths, he stressed that the top guys were more active in the boat. Once I started implementing these techniques, my speed improved. With good starting, I was able to match the top guys for upwind speed in the light to medium breeze gold fleet racing.
Pre start approach was quite strong as well. Coach Dold, Chris Barnard, and I shared specific observations about the wind and start line. Our accuracy for where to start and how to approach the first upwind got better and better as the regatta progressed.
These things that went well are the foundation for successful racing in the Laser fleet.
OK now on to some of the areas for improvement.
Downwind speed is still a work in progress. Only in 1 race did I move up dramatically on the downwind legs. Most of the time, I lost a few boats or stayed roughly the same. I need to do a better job of feeling connected to my boat and understanding the wave pattern around the boat to make the most of wave surfing opportunities. After a good first upwind, downwind speed cements a top race result. It also helps with escaping midfleet and saving bad races.
Tactical decisions after the first mark also were off by a bit. Only average downwind sailing in the gold fleet set me up for some difficulty in races where I was doing well. In three of the races, I was 9, 4, & 3 at the halfway stage of the race, but had difficulty finding the handle on these races early on the second upwinds. In each of these races, I lost significantly in the second half of the race. Situations where I was feeling conflicted about decisions saw me lose out as well. In these situations, I generally sailed on bad angles to the next mark or sailed for too long in disturbed wind. In the Gold Fleet, this is very costly as many other boats are able to sail faster. The good news is that the situations that tripped me up have a quick rule of thumb that helps with the immediate priorities. So even though I made mistakes, the lesson is there to get the call better the next time.
Maneuvering in strong wind is not up to par just yet. Accelerating at the start, tacking, and mark rounding was off in both the training and the first day of racing. The best guys are polished and consistent with these skills.
So from here, I will head back to Long Beach for some training with teammate Chris Barnard in the next couple weeks. I felt we worked well together with Coach Chris Dold at our first event here. Chris Barnard and I both had personal best results for this annual competition. We have some specific drills from him for our Long Beach training. Then we are back over here to Europe for our next event, Sailing World Cup Hyeres. The regatta runs April 25-30 in Hyeres, France. All the top guys will be racing and I’m super enthusiastic about getting back in the gym and on the water in Long Beach.
Thank you all for following and supporting me on this journey. Check out the social media for some pictures and videos!