February: Laser Midwinters East
This month, I competed at the Laser Midwinters East in Clearwater, Florida. This regatta played the role of a false peak event. It's purpose was to measure the successes in my training over the winter and to identify where I need to be focusing my time and energy going forwards. The greatest positive coming out of the competition was with my starting. Historically, starting has been a huge weakness for me. This is actually my first regatta going as far back as I can remember where I didn't get a single OCS (disqualified for starting early). I wasn't holding back on the start line either. I got off the start line in a good place in 6 of the 8 races. This is a huge improvement over anything that I have done in the past although there is clearly still room for improvement. My second focus point over the winter was downwind speed. I am starting to see moments where I get going really well, but there are still too many times when I am going slow. I have however gained a stronger understanding of what needs to be done to get the boat going fast downwind. With a little more practice, I hope to see better consistency in my downwind speed. Although I was consistently getting off the start line in a good place, my understanding of how to make decisions after the start was clearly lacking. I struggled with the awareness of what was going on with the conditions and how to position myself relative to the other boats to maximize potential gains and minimize potential losses. An analogy that I've heard (I can't take credit for it) that I feel sums it up is that sailboat racing is like playing chess, on a constantly changing chess board, against 75 other people, while working exerting yourself physically. While right now this feels like a huge mountain to climb, everything can be simplified and broken down. This is my next step and what I will be working on over the next while. it's going to be a challenge, but, when I decided that I wanted to win an Olympic gold medal, I never thought it would be easy!
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