Thursday, October 11, 2007

Real Laser Sailor Blogs

Enough about me. The US Olympic Selection Trials for Lasers and Laser Radials are under way at Third Beach Newport and several of the contestants are blogging about their experiences. So check out the following sites for some news of top class Laser sailing by real Laser sailors.

In the Laser fleet Brian Raney is in 30th place after ten races.

The first race I got flushed off the start. I tried keeping up with the shifts, but it was tough. I just wasn't comfy hiking out. I wasn't working through the chop well. I was deep at the top mark. We were raciing the inner trap. My run was adequate but nothing special. My second beat was another challenge. I finally got passed on the last run to end up DFL. Sad.
Brian you are a winner just by making it to the Trials. Don't lose heart.

Marc Jacobi is currently in 17th place. Hmmm. Just below the mid-point. I know that feeling. Marc, by the way, is one of the most friendly and helpful Laser sailors on the circuit, always ready to pass on tips and advice to back-of-the-fleet duffers like me. He may be middle of the fleet in the rankings but one day at the Trials he led the fleet at the first mark in both races. Wow!

new day, new wind direction and racecourse, this time at the mouth of the river where it meets the atlantic ocean. big swells and lots of wind to start--very similar conditions to what i sailed in a month ago in the same spot during a masters event. armed with that prior knowledge, and backed by observations i made before the race, i had great confidence in my game plan: start at the committee boat, tack right away, and get to the right hand corner.

confidence helps at these times, because in a good fleet it's easy to second-guess oneself, or assume other sailors might know more. it was a bit nerve-wracking to take that tack away from the fleet after a great start at the boat, but in a few short minutes it was obvious that things were looking good. to be conservative i tacked before getting all the way to the right hand corner for the long sail back to the middle of the course. was my research and action plan correct? or would i have the fleet pass in front and take my air?

i knew if the wind held i'd be near the front. as i neared the mark i was sailing faster than the boats below me, and things were really starting to look good. i tacked to get back to the right, taking the wind of front-runner clay johnson and forcing him to tack back. i called the tack back to the mark perfectly and rounded the top mark in first, with a healthy 10 boatlength lead!

managed to extend the lead a bit on the first reach, but top sailors andrew campbell and clay johnson reeled me in on the run, sailing incredibly fast in the big waves. i stayed even on the next upwind leg, and held off regatta-leader brad funk on the run and reach to the finish to score a third!

the next race started in less wind but from the same direction, and my strategy remained the same. got another start right at the boat and tacked immediately, and once again led the fleet to the first mark--what a rush! once again held the lead to the next mark, and once again got passed by campbell and this time funk and emory wager on the run. the breeze really started to back off, allowing the four of us to extend away from the rest of the fleet to finish in that order. how cool to get two top-5 results at the olympic trials!

ok, i'm sore and it's getting late. time to stretch, take a nice shower and hit the hay.

Andrew Campbell is in second place after ten races but definitely in contention for the single US Laser Olympic slot. Of course, I've written about Andrew here before and his blog was one of the Top Ten Sailing Blogs of 2006. Prior to the Trials, Andrew had some interesting observations on the interpersonal dynamics between American sailors as they head into the Trials.

The system of Olympic Trials promotes a funny atmosphere at the training site in the weeks leading up to the selection regatta. Americans who have depended so heavily on each other as training partners, roommates, confidants all of a sudden find themselves necessarily isolated and awkwardly independent of each other while they live and practice. Foreign training partners are brought in and quiet alliances are bonded between groups of two, three and four boats that can be seen sailing together all across the expected square mile racecourse area. Full-time campaigners are shunned by their part-time counterparts who are on site only for the final weeks leading into the regatta, not wanting to give them the benefit of larger training groups. And reciprocally the sailors with training partners make their sessions exclusive from outsiders to ensure self-interested benefit. Aside from waving to one and other, and at times less than that, former friendships are apparently put on hold for the month in attempts to abandon any emotional connection that might only get in the way during the impending regatta.

And then we have Brad Funk who is currently leading the Trials. I had the pleasure of sailing with Brad when he was the guest instructor at the clinic I did in Florida in 2005. Here is his account of the last day of racing before the mid-regatta lay day.

Normally at this stage of a big event, I'm feeling the negative effects of expending a lot of physical exertion and mental energy. If this were a regular ISAF Grade 1 event, it would be all over except for the 20-minute double-points "Medal" race for the top ten sailors. Not this time. There’s an Olympic berth at stake.

Today I won two closely-contested races. The races were run in a shifty 12-14 knot northeast wind which presented many tactical opportunities. No two legs were the same and position on the first leg wasn't where the races were decided. Far from it. The big gains were made on leg 2 which was the first downwind leg, and leg three, the second upwind. Fortunately, I had a good game plan today to deal with these tricky conditions.

Because we’ve now completed eight races, each competitor is able to discard his worst score. And that means that my point advantage over Andrew Campbell has narrowed. Campbell who posted 2-5 finishes today was able to drop his 20th place, while I dropped a 9th. As it stands tonight, I hold a slim three-point margin over him in the low point scoring system.

And then we have the ladies in the Laser Radial Trials. As I predicted (it wasn't exactly hard) it is turning into a showdown between Paige Railey and Anna Tunnicliffe. Anna is currently leading Paige by five points.

Anna was flagged by the judges for pumping on Day Four but still managed to beat Paige after completing her penalty turns.

Our second race was one to remember. Paige won the start and had a handy lead at the weather mark but I overtook her on the run before the judges yellow-flagged me. After my two penalty turns, I chased Paige down on the run to round the leeward mark just two boat lengths behind her. We got into a really good tacking duel on the beat but she still led round the last weather mark. I passed her again on the run but she had luffing rights and carried me out to the side of the course on a big reach until I was able to break the overlap. We duked it out from there. Paige kept attacking but there wasn’t enough race course left and I won that one.
Good luck to all the competitors. It's going to be a close fought regatta in both fleets and I look forward to reading all about it on their blogs and websites.

Update: If you know of any other sailors at the Trials who are blogging about the experience please let me know in the comments. I will add links below.

John Pearce

1 comment:

merrifie said...

And originally from my home town, John Pearce is currently in third.

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