Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Holland Regatta-equipment preparation

It has been a long time since my last post. The only news I have to report on is the Holland regatta which finished up two weeks ago.

Overall it was an okay event for me. I had a horrible first day, and was sitting quite deep in the standings, and unfortunately, I started out the next day with an OCS, which really killed my chances of a podium finish. However I was really pleased with my recovery after those first four races, and to make it back to 7th overall. My starts were horrible all week, but tactically and strategically I was really with it, and clawed back through the fleet in more then my fair share of the races.

I think one of the big takeaways from this event was equipment preparation. At top level laser racing, sails really only last one major grade 1 event, and then get demoted to training or use at smaller regattas. Therefore, I normally go through between 5-7 sails a year. Typically, I buy all my sails for the season at one time, so that I can put them all up and compare shapes, note imperfections, and then rank them-saving the best ones for the most important regattas. However, for the Holland Regatta, I didnt have time to look at the latest batch of sails. Unfortunately, I had grabbed a sail with a really tight leech, and my speed suffered. It took me most of the first day to figure out the problem, and after that, I figured out how much I needed to free the sheet to bring back my normal groove.

Now I am not blaming my gear for my lack of speed. Instead, I am blaming my lack of preparation, as this was well within my control, and presents an interesting scenario for the games where the lasers are receiving supplied equipment. In China, it will be of the utmost importance to identify the differences between our normal gear, and the supplied gear. In particular, the stiffness of the mast, mast rake, and the shape of the sail. Then we will need to take this information, and be able to adapt our normal setup so that we are still getting the correct shapes and feel to maximize our boatspeed. I know this problem has plagued almost every top laser sailor I can think of at one stage or another, and whilst adapting may not win the Olympics, not adapting could certainly lose it.


vann wilson said...

Mike ,

I have deep admiration and respect for your and the other North American Olympic representative Andrew Campbells sailing talents, but man oh man can both you guys write . I read your Blogs and feel that I am sitting at the dinner table listening to the days debrief .
Thanks you !

Vann Wilson
Long Beach , California

apels said...

So, what you in fact tell the world is that the Laser is not thé strictly one design class.

Adriaan Pels
The Netherlands

Hugh Elliot said...

Is any boat "strictly one design".

There are tolerances to allow for manufacturing variances and for wear and tear on the equipment.