Sunday, January 5, 2014

Holiday Training in Puerto de Santa Maria

My parents are becoming accustomed to my being away from home for Christmas.  Sometimes, the training schedule and budget prohibit my return home, and I'm "stranded" in places like Australia or Maui.  This season, I was fortunate enough to experience the holidays in Puerto de Santa Maria, Spain, for training and a regatta. 

Puerto is a well-attended venue for winter training by a number of Europeans. The weather is the best in continental Europe, and living is relatively cheap in an off-season beach town.  There is always a group of quality sailors and youth teams to train with, and I trained with folks from Spain, Sweden, France, Russia, the Ukraine, and Lithuania.  Conditions are challenging and can be just about anything, from flat water and light wind to giant ocean swell, strong current, and big breeze. 

My focus for this month in Spain was racing and synthesizing what I learned this fall in Santander and La Rochelle.  I also focused on physical training, as it's harder to make gains in this area during the main season in the spring and summer.  I had many very good days of practice racing in all types of condition. 

Mark rounding adjustments in big breeze
 At the end of my stay, the Federacion Andalucia de Vela held the New Year's Regatta.  I was happy with my performance during this event.  We had "unusual" weather:  a cold front with strong, gusty, and shifty wind; and two days with no wind altogether.  We raced only during the first two days, all of which were planing or marginally planing races.  The fleet was deep and aggressive, because we raced with many youth boys, and there were 30 sailors total, making it great practice for the Miami OCR, my next important event at the end of January.  I was happy with my speed and tactics, and the mistakes I made I felt were easily correctable.  With only six races, I finished tied for third out of the 23-board women's fleet.  I lost the tiebreaker, but was still happy with the finish.

Chasing one of the boys
  Not all of the month was spent training.  In Spain, getting things done is all about your connections.  I stayed with the cousin of a friend of a friend, and not only had a great living situation but also met a great new friend.  Even better, I got to help with her new puppy.  My best Spanish vocabulary is now dog commands.

I'm leaving for Miami in a few days for the most important event of the next 6 months.  The Miami OCR qualifies me for the 2014 US Sailing Team, the USA for the Pan American Games, and is a qualifier for the Olympic Test Event in Rio this July.  I feel prepared, and will be maintaining focus to make sure this event goes smoothly for me.  I'm looking forward to the first challenge of the new year.

 Nothing cuter or naughtier than a Christmas puppy!