Coachmode Vs Racemode
Photo credit: Paul HargreavesA couple of weeks ago Ethan and I were at RS200 Youth Squad training. We’d known all week that the conditions were likely to be pretty wild and when we arrived at the venue the wind was pretty strong and coming right along the length of the reservoir.
One of the things we’ve been very aware of during winter training is that we are pretty light in the boat, which means that we need to work really hard as a team and think about our rig settings if we are going to be competitive. That weekend, we decided that the rig needed to go back for the conditions without any hesitation. No point in bravado, this was a coaching weekend and we both felt it was better to be sailing and learning than swimming and getting cold. What we’d lose in boat speed would more than be made up for in terms of avoiding long periods in the water righting the boat.
At the briefing session our Squad Leader, Erica, appeared with some mast head floats and suggested (quite firmly) that we should consider using them due to the conditions. Quite a few of us opted to do so as it would mean that if we did capsize we’d hopefully avoid turtling and would be able to get going again quickly. Coaching is, after all, about getting the most out of the time on the water and not about speed over the race track.
I can’t begin to tell you how many layers I put on! I was so convinced that we were going to get wet, but after a long and tiring session on the water we were both delighted that we were warm and dry. The outer combination of Aquafleece and our Supertherms having kept the spray out incredibly well. Not a single capsize all morning has to be a record for us in those conditions and it made us both realise just how important the combination of the right boat settings and our teamwork had been in keeping the boat flat and powering through the gusts. Mum took some footage of us handling a gybe and, whilst we may not look particularly ‘pretty,’ I’m impressed with how we handled the gybe each time I watch it through.
Our communication skills have also come on during the winter coaching, we are talking to each other a lot more about what we are doing - next moves, gusts, other boats and what they are doing. In the afternoon we had a split second to decide whether to dump the boat in the water or run the risk of hitting rocks and, because of the time we’ve spent working on sailing together, we managed to see the problem, decide what to do, do it and get going again all within minutes.
The final ‘race’ of the day was sailed in some great conditions and by then we were really enjoying ourselves – even more so when we managed to bag first place in the race when others overstood the line!Ellie Clark