Where I'm At, And What Comes Next.
Yesterday was the final day of fleet racing for the Sailing World Cup Miami. I finished the regatta in 54th of the 59 competitors; pretty much right at the back of the fleet. This regatta was a reminder of just how competitive the Laser fleet is. For me, this regatta was a good summary of where I am at in my sailing. Despite having finished at the back of the fleet, it it’s not as if I am sailing the boat badly. I have most of the necessary technical skills (boat speed/ boathandeling) to be competitive with the bulk of this fleet, but my lack of experience compared to most of these guys is very apparent. I have most of the tools, but still don’t know exactly when to use what tools to manage different situations.
As an example, in the last race of the regatta (which was also my best race), I rounded the top mark in 3rd with 2X world champion Nick Thompson behind me. We both made the initial mistake of going into the center of the course and the whole fleet that rounded the mark behind us was gaining on us on both sides in more wind. It was a very bad situation to be in. I didn’t know what to do, so I sailed over to the side of the course, consolidated the loss and ended up rounding the bottom mark around 20th. Nick was able to manage that situation much better, and I think got to the bottom mark in 6th. We both made a mistake and paid for it, but I paid a lot more because I didn’t know how that situation would play out. It’s not all that surprising, Nick has probably been in that situation 50 times before, so of course he will know the best way to deal with it. That’s just one of many examples throughout this regatta where I really felt my inexperience. This type of situational awareness, and ability to foresee how different situations will play out is not something that will be easy to train. We can try and create different situations in training to try and mimic common racing situations, but really it seems that this will only come with time and more racing experience. Of course, when I said that I feel my technical skills are at a decent level, they are far from good enough! So there is still lot’s of work that needs to be done in training.
One of the biggest positives for me at this regatta was that I demonstrated a level of mental maturity that I haven’t seen from myself before. In 9 out of the 10 races here, I was right at the back of the fleet. Historically, that type of performance would have worn me down. Instead of focusing on the specific lessons that I could have learned from each race, I would have started thinking that I just don’t know how to sail properly. Inevitably, smaller problems would snowball into bigger ones, which was the case for me at a few regattas last year where I was also working on my own with no coach. Here, I was really able to isolate each bad race to it’s cause, and not get carried away into thinking my overall sailing was a problem. I was able to hit the reset button from race to race, and in the end, my best result was the last race of the regatta
This is going to be a really important skill for me on the path that I am going down. I wrote in my last update about how I have split ways with my coach because I could no longer financially afford to work with him. I spent some time on the budget, and it looks like, thanks to the great support from my family, yacht club and a few donors, I will have enough money to get to all the regattas that I need to go to this year. However, there is really nothing left in the budget for coaching. This means that for the foreseeable future, I will be running my own program and effectively coaching myself. I think that developing the ability to isolate problems to their true cause and not allowing them to grow will be the difference between my success and failure on this path.
For sure, it’s not ideal, but I have to work with the opportunities and resources that I have available to me. It will be a challenge, but in the end, that’s what this is all about anyways! Of course, I will continue looking for a good coach that I can afford and will continue trying to raise the necessary money. For now, I will just get back to work! I know where my weaknesses are, so I am optimistic that I will be able to make a lot of progress.
This was a bit of a longer update, but as always, thanks for reading!