After a great stint of winter training, it was time for the first event of the year with Sailing World Cup Miami. This event was a regatta I probably won’t forget for a long time for it showed some of my best sailing to date followed by such a sour, disappointing finish. Most of the week we had light to medium winds that were very tricky and shifty, typical of Biscayne Bay. I started off qualifying series with a nice, consistent score line 9-4-6-9. First day of gold fleet was up and down for me starting with a 2nd, followed by a 24-34, putting me in 4th overall with just four races left to go. The final two days the most disappointing scoring a 26-48-17-33, finishing 14th overall.
The regatta really left a real sour taste in my mouth and a real wrench in my stomach, wondering how the regatta went so sideways on me after a strong start. However, as time does, the wounds heal and I turn that pain and hurt into a new fire. I showed lots of potential by being in bronze medal position through six races and in medal race position all the way through until the final race. This regatta also was the first real racing for coach John to watch me operate and see where my true strengths and weaknesses stand. There were several minor areas to continue to improve on, but the big area that stood out was my execution on the starting line. It brought me back to thoughts back in Aarhus and the disappointing result at Worlds last summer and the troubles I had on the starting line there. With John’s experience, knowledge, and his ability to analyze all the data that is available these days, we will be able to turn this weakness into a strength.
Following Miami and a couple weeks of rest at home, it was back to Florida for the Laser Midwinters East in Clearwater. As usual I stayed with good friend and Radial teammate Paige Railey. The goal of this event was to build off the lessons learned in Miami, working on starting strategy and execution. Conditions provided a nice variety of light and crazy that demanded good awareness to breezy, hiking conditions that required top end speed. The whole week was sailed under a particularly brutal week under the hot Florida sun, taking a real toll on the energy systems. Overall it was a good week for me against the North American fleet winning the event going away. Most importantly we really built on the starting skills and accelerations, awareness of the fleet movements on the starting line, and executing good strategy.
After a couple days rest, we moved camp back to coconut grove for a very speed focused camp in Miami. These were long sessions, usually twice a day, putting in lots of hours into high level upwind speed, followed by complementary gym sessions at night. I can say this process of finding upwind boat speed has been ongoing since John and I first started back in Portugal last fall. I believe we finally made some more breakthroughs that I think can match and pass the top guys in the world. We definitely have some more work to do no question, particularly with the consistency, but I am more confident in knowing where the “sweet spot” is more than ever and how to attack it. It was a very productive week on the water in mostly light winds, finishing up March 7th.
After a couple weeks of more gym work, downtime with the fiancée’s family in Florida, and some solo sessions on the water in Long Beach, it is now time to head back to Europe. As I am writing this, I am in airport headed to Palma de Mallorca for the Princess Sofia Regatta, one of my favorite venues. Following that is the SOF Hyeres regatta in Hyeres, France and the European Championships in Porto, Portugal. I look forward to another opportunity for a strong season of racing and continuing to build on lessons we are going to learn.
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