Monday, June 30, 2008

Kiel Week 2008: Day 5

Yesterday finished Kiel Week. The weather decided to give us a break, and although it was cloudy, it didn’t rain. We had one race scheduled in addition to the medal race. As the wind was light, it took almost an hour to sail out to the course. The conditions were approximately similar to the previous days, just one notch lighter. Clouds were coming through and sending gusts down the course.

The wind was so shifty that opposite ends of the line ended up being favored dramatically for each of the men’s starts; the pin end for the gold fleet, and the boat end for the silver fleet. Initially the boat was favored for our start, but it soon became apparent that it was changing to the pin end. At one minute to the start, most of the fleet headed down to that end. I could have started on port tack, but as I thought the left side of the course would be better, I stayed on starboard. I knew I was close to the line and delayed my acceleration and ended up with a mediocre start. However, the highlight of the race was the second upwind. I hit every shift perfectly and was going fast. My approach to the mark was spot on the layline – I passed a lot of competitors that leg. Unfortunately I didn’t learn until later that I had OCS-ed. With only one throwout, this dropped me back 4 places on the results.

Although I dropped down on the results, I was finished mid-fleet and finally got out of the back third of the fleet. For me this is a big accomplishment, and the first step in my quest for excellence. It was accomplished by concentrating on three goals: good starts, having a plan for the race, and keeping focused.

Overall I was very happy with the regatta, especially in this venue, one of the most notoriously difficult on the European circuit.

By improving vital areas of my game, everything else improves too, and the results take care of themselves. The results don’t count for everything. If I have a bad start, I can still sail well for the rest of the race. For example, at the World Championships in New Zealand, I was starting really well but making mistakes sometimes during the first upwind. However, despite my less-than-stellar results, I knew that I made big improvements during that regatta just by focusing on starts. In addition, I am thinking and analyzing during the race and always looking for the next opportunity. By realizing where I make mistakes, I can focus on improving these areas and turning strengths into weaknesses. My approach is holistic and vital for long-term success in being the most well-rounded Olympic boardsailor over the next 4 years.

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