Following the end of summer racing and the events that transpired with my coach, it was time to begin the process of finding the next leader of my program. It was a long process, something that I wanted to take ample time to think about. I had several discussions and conference calls with our US Sailing Team leaders, staff, and mentors to narrow down both what characteristics, strengths, and personalities would best fit me as an athlete and who would fit that mold.
Malcolm Page, our Chief of Olympic Sailing, and I finally came to an agreement of going with John Bertrand. He is a well proven sailor himself winning a Silver Medal in 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and part of many America’s Cup Campaigns. Since he has moved to master the coaching side of the game working with both the British and Australian teams over the past decade. His experience, knowledge, and style of coaching is something that attracted Malcolm Page and I to bring him into the program. He puts a very positive, opportunistic perspective into the coaching, something that was refreshing.
The fall was highly designated to a big fitness block from mid-September through mid-November. It was a period that I wanted to step away from the boat, work with my sports psychologist, and work on my body in the gym. Just after Halloween, the entire US Sailing Team and staff travelled to Colorado Springs for our annual team camp at the Olympic Training Center. There we participated in team meetings, fitness testing, and inspiring talks from world-renowned skier Bode Miller. It was a great week of learning and hitting new personal records in my fitness numbers.
It was then time to get back in the boat, a new itch to really put the pedal to the metal with on the water training. With coach John, we designated over a month of training in Vilamoura, Portugal from November 18-December 19. We chose Vilamoura as it is the common training base for many of the European teams during the winter months and gave us a great opportunity to train with them. Along with new campaigner from Chicago, Malcolm Lamphere, John and I all lived together in an apartment and put in long hours on the water and in the gym.
Out of the possible 30 days to be on the water, by my count we splashed about 25 days and averaged over 3.5 hours each session. We obviously worked on several tangible techniques in the boat, but mostly I think it was a great opportunity for John and I to get to know each other, and for him to observe me as a sailor, athlete, and person on the water, in the boat park, in the apartment, and throughout the day. What I really took away from the camp was a new-found desire to put in the extra, longer hours on the water. It felt really nice to have that new fire under me. The training block was concluded by a “coaches regatta” where I finished 2nd overall, a nice conclusion to the month.
You can find results here. https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/966f68_8c89fec95ecd4886b7c40a16a38dd037.pdf
The next couple weeks was a mix of time at home for holidays as well as the travel mishaps that happen when doing campaigning. My travel home from Portugal was significantly delayed as my flight through London Gatwick was cancelled with the Drone disruptions as many of you may have heard. Then it was an all-day road trip to San Francisco to pick up the team Laser trailer with coach boat just before the New Years. Finally, after a friend’s wedding in Palm Springs on New Year’s Eve, it was the annual trek across the country through some of the worst weather I’ve had to encounter. From El Paso through Tallahassee, I was struggling along the highway averaging 55 mph with freezing, icy temperatures to downpour rain. Slowly but surely, with good gym sessions along the way, I made it safely to Miami early morning January 5th.
Our first few days on the water were out of Miami Yacht Club to train in the ocean, followed by four days out of the US sailing Center in Coconut Grove. We accomplished the same routine of nearly four hours on the water each day. They were extremely productive, long days building on the technique work we worked on in Portugal. Biscayne Bay as usual is a great venue and we saw good progress. After a day of rest, we moved up to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida for the annual Lauderdale Olympic Classes Regatta and this year’s US Nationals. The event was four days of high-quality racing and a great training event to prepare for the Sailing World Cup later this month. I raced really well, flashes of new-found speed and balance upwind, good starts, smart racing, and usual downwind wheels. Unfortunately, I got “tagged” by the race committee a few too many times for being OCS and had some alphabet soup. However, to John and I, that was irrelevant to how well I was sailing. John wanted me to be aggressive on the starting line to get good starts and that I did. However, often the starting styles of both the fleet and race committees at national regattas behave differently compared to the international scene, and what I was doing on the starting line was not erratic to that norm. If you replaced the alphabet soup with my race finishes and the final race that I was leading and was abandoned right before finish due to fickle winds, I would have been in full contention to win the event. Nonetheless, it is on me to be better aware of the line and when to push it. That is sailing for you, no excuses. John and I both were very happy with my performance on the water, and very excited for the path of progression we are on.
You can see results here. http://www.regattanetwork.com/event/16691#_newsroom
Now we are in a period of tapering the body off as the last three months have been quite heavy on the systems both on and off the water as we prepare for the Sailing World Cup Miami at the end of the month. This is the first step of several trial events, including for the Pan American Games and the Olympic Test Event this summer. Exciting times are ahead and honored to have your support. Thank you and glad to have you along for the ride!
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