This September I spent three weeks training in Malta. The UK was starting to get a bit colder and I wanted to freshen up my training ahead of the winter block and into Australia for the Worlds in early 2020. The Mediterranean Sea seemed like the perfect solution. Each week was focused on a different area of Laser sailing. First week was boat speed, then we transitioned into manoeuvres before pulling it altogether with starts and racing.
I really took some valuable nuggets of information from each day but here are some of the main ones. In the boat speed area, I need to start completely flattening my legs in the medium breeze upwind so that I am as locked into the boat as possible and any movements with the upper body are completely transferred into the boat. There is a time and place for slightly bent leg hiking, but it shouldn’t be the go-to style. This means more hours on the hiking bench perfecting this, Yay! Downwind pace was good on the whole although I tended to have a tighter outhaul than most, but this is an easy fix.
A couple of eye openers for me in terms of tacking. In the lighter breeze I need to be holding the squeeze of the mainsheet as I try and climb to windward for longer. I was just missing out on free distance to windward beforehand. With the wavier conditions it was all about timing, you need to get through the tack quickly and pick your moment for the bow to spin through the wind. Sometimes I was getting it wrong when the bow would end up being knocked back slightly by the next wave. Also, I really needed to launch myself out into the strap on the new tack.
The final week we focused on starting and racing. We had a complete mix of conditions with really shifty gusty flat water to wavy consistent breeze out of the harbour. With the starts we practiced accelerating off the line with no transit. I realized I relied quite heavily on a transit as I almost always get one in big regattas. But this was really useful being able to feel where the line was without a transit. Into the racing and sometimes I found myself in a bit of a mindset where I would be hoping for something to come in that I couldn’t see and was just waiting for a miracle. Once I changed this mindset and decided even when I’m slightly behind, the next right thing to do would be to head for the pressure or sail on the lifted tack and not wait for something incredible that 99 times out of 100 was not going to come in, I started seeing more consistent results.
Overall it was a great camp and has given me loads of things to work on over the next few months. Thanks very much to Alex and the Sailcoach team for the training, and of course Nigel for the fitness!
I have a little bit of time off at home before the first World and European qualifier up in Sunderland!