Friday was the final day of the Trofeo Princess Sofia Regatta here in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. I finished the regatta in 104th of 152 competitors. Usually, it would be logical to think that finishing this deep would be concerning, however, in this case, I finished where I was expecting to. Early this year, I sat down with my coach, Brett, and we outlined all of the targets that I need to be hitting annually over the next 5 years leading into the 2020 Olympic games for me to be on track to medal at the games. One of those targets for this year (year 1, September 2015 – August 2016) is that I am finishing at approximately 70% of the fleet at well-attended ISAF events, which is exactly what I have done this week. Admittedly, I am always looking to beat these targets, and am hoping to do that at future events this year. Still, this is a result that I am content with… for now. It is my nature to be very impatient when it comes to expecting results and improvements as I pursue my goals. This is something I have found to be both a strength and a weakness of mine. It’s a strength because it pushes me to be constantly looking for ways to get better quicker; it’s a weakness because it is very difficult for me to accept the slow, long term improvements that is the reality in high performance sport. Having these targets in place has been incredibly valuable for me because it helps to keep my expectations in check instead of being constantly disappointed when I don’t achieve unrealistic goals, as has been the case for me in the past. But that is enough about results! Where this regatta has been truly valuable is with the things I have been able to learn from racing in a fleet of this quality, in a venue this challenging. In addition to having identified some areas that I will need to improve on over my next training block, there were two main areas where I actually saw substantial improvements over the five days of racing. The first one was fleet management. In a fleet like this, it is incredibly easy to get caught up with other boats and end up getting spat out the back in a matter of seconds. I have been working on thinking a few steps in advance, so that I have an idea of the moves that the other competitors will likely make and I already have a plan with how to react. It’s still a work in progress, but I’m definitely getting better at it. The second area is mental toughness. I broke through an important mental barrier on the third day of the regatta. In the first race of the day, I had made some critical mistakes resulting in a mediocre race. Going into the second race that day, I decided that I would simply my race strategy and just focus on hiking as hard as possible for as long as possible. I can say confidently that I have never physically exerted myself as hard as I did in that race. I think that this race will prove to have been a critical turning point in my heavy air sailing. Now that I know what it feels like to truly push myself to my physical limit, I can no longer allow anything less from myself.
I now have a couple of days off in Palma to finish packing up boats and do some training on the road bike before we drive to Hyeres, France on Tuesday to begin the next training block.
Thanks for reading!