Saturday, April 18, 2009

Welcome to Hyeres: French Olympic Week 2009

Note: as of now, my website is under construction.

Hyeres, France, has been my favorite venue on the European race circuit since I first raced here in 2006. The springtime in south France is absolutely beautiful; trees and plants are brilliant green and the weather is mild (but can be unpredictable!) I arrived two days ago and am staying with friends in a perfect, picturesque hillside French village, 25 kilometers from Hyeres. This will be my fourth French Olympic Week and it’s great to be back doing what I love the most.

How many sailors does it take to fix a boom head? Ben, Christoph, and friends at work.

This year, the US boardsailors in attendance (Ben Barger and I) have a coach for the regatta. Our coach is Christoph Sieber, an Austrian boardsailor who won a gold medal in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. He is friendly, humorous, and knowledgeable, and we are already off to a great start. Today we had our first practice session and an organized practice race. We practiced pumping technique both upwind and downwind, and also worked on reading the shifts, figuring out their pattern going upwind. About half the fleet turned out for the practice race. Halfway through the men’s start, the wind went from 8 knots to about 3-4, and there was a huge shift to the right. The start was abandoned and the committee reset the course. Starting a practice race, especially in virtually no wind, is always difficult. Most of the sailors end up being over early. In my case, I held my position on the line up until the last 15 seconds, when some girls aggressively went over the line and I slipped back. However, I tacked away, found a great lane of clean air, went straight to the favored side with good speed and had a solid first upwind. It was a promising start to what is looking like a light air regatta.

The weather is fickle this week in Hyeres and today was sunny with very light wind. However, there have already been thunderstorms, cold weather, and lots of rain this month. Currently there are a few different areas of low pressure and fronts hanging around over south France, and it is forecasted that most of this week will be light wind. Developing skills in light wind is a focus for the season, so I’m happy with light wind, but the weather here could change at any moment. We’re all looking forward to an interesting week on the racecourse.

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