For the past week the US Sailing Team Alphagraphics has been training in Weymouth, UK, sailing venue of the 2012 Olympic Games. An impressive number of USST members are here, including sailors on the boat development teams. Our team leader, Kenneth Andreasen, is doing a great job of organizing meetings and bringing us together in our team "compound," a big storage facility a quarter mile from the Weymouth and Portland Sailing Academy.
The US team hired Mike Gebhardt to coach Ben Barger and I, which was the deciding factor in my attendance at this regatta. It is really expensive because I have to charter equipment, but equipment is less than the cost of good coaching. We have had four days of coaching in wind anywhere from 8-25 knots in mostly chilly, rainy, and cloudy conditions. We are focusing on tuning and technique, and I have been developing my speed and pointing in breeze, and we have created different strategies for various conditions. We are continuing this focus through the regatta, and using the racing for further tuning and working on tactics.
Today was our first day of racing, and in addition to the tuning, we worked on developing tactics specific to Weymouth. In the breeze, tactics aren't excessively complicated. The left side of the course is usually favored and speed and a good start are imperative for getting to the left side right from the starting line. Although I didn't make any glaring tactical errors, I am having trouble pointing and I'm basically getting creamed by the fleet for that reason. A major factor impacting my pointing ability is my charter equipment, which is new and very stiff. It is great to be on new gear, but it still needs to be broken in and I have been keeping my sail fully rigged in a main hall to break it down faster. It doesn't look like I'll have a fantastic result at this regatta, but I'm making a lot of progress with technique and learning a lot more about the equipment. Mike Gebhardt is really pushing my ability and effort, and it will pay off at future regattas.