Monday, January 30, 2012

Just Another Week in Paradise

A couple of weeks ago I spent a rewarding (and exhausting) five days working on my Laser skills at the Laser Training Center in Cabarete in the Dominican Republic. The week was billed as a "Pre Brisbane Master Worlds Clinic" but of the eighteen sailors on the course, only a handful of us were planning to go the Master Worlds in Australia. In fact I'm not going to the Master Worlds this year myself. (More on why not in another post perhaps.)

There were a bunch of us from southern New England most of whom who had conspired to go together, several other Masters sailors I had met before, and some whom I hadn't met before including a couple of guys from Europe and two from Japan. No doubt informed of the reputation of Cabarete for big waves and heavy winds, almost half the group had chosen to sail Radial rigs, or were switching between Radial and Full rigs depending on the conditions. A healthy sign I thought. There was only one female sailor. Why is that? Don't women sailors know that Laser Radial sailing is an Olympic sport for women and that Laser sailing is the best way to meet gazillions of tall, fit, handsome, charming men? Come on girls.

Where was I? Where am I? Oh yes. The Cabarete Pre Brisbane Laser Master Worlds Clinic Mainly For People Who Weren't Going To The Worlds.

It was a lively and convivial bunch. Our core group from New England dined together every night often with many of the other sailors too. There are a dozen or so low-priced friendly restaurants only a few minutes walk along the beach from the Laser Training Center, and many hours were also spent hanging out in the legendary EZE Bar right in front of the Laser Training Center enjoying their excellent healthy meals and healthy fruit smoothies and not so healthy extensive cocktail menu. The camaraderie of the whole group was one of the most enjoyable things about the whole vacation clinic.

The fifth and final day of the vacation clinic was a regatta (more on that in another post perhaps). The format for the first four days went roughly like this...

8-8:30 - roll out of bed in my hotel and wander down to the restaurant for a healthy meal of fruit and yoghurt etc. with other sailors and the beautiful Tillerwoman.

9:30-10:00 - stroll along the beach to the Laser Training Center and rig up a Laser.

10:30 - 12ish - listen to head coach Rulo explain the drills he planned for the day and his instruction on various aspects of Laser sailing and watch video of us not sailing Lasers properly from the day before and of good Laser sailors sailing properly. (More on what I learned about the finer points of Laser sailing in another post perhaps.)

12ish - 12:30ish - change into sailing clothes and eat healthy snacks and drink healthy sailing drinks possibly including a healthy fruit smoothie from the EZE Bar.

12:30ish - launch. Launching at Cabarete is more adventurous than at most locations because there is quite a significant shore break in which the waves could easily grab hold of a Laser and smash it into the beach or onto the sailor or both causing permanent damage to aforementioned Laser and sailor. Thankfully this never happens because of the very helpful young men from the Laser Training Center who hold the boats through the shore break until the moment when they tell you to jump on to the boat and when they throw you and the boat over the last breaking wave into the only slightly less hairy waves beyond the break.

12:30ish - 3:30ish depending on the wind conditions, and stamina or otherwise of the sailors, perform drills and drills and more drills and even more drills to refine our Laser skills while the coaches make videos of us to show all the Laser sailors later how awful our Laser sailing techniques really are. (More about the "interesting" weather conditions we experienced in another post perhaps.)

3:30ish - return to beach where the helpful young men helped us to navigate the shore break again without smashing up our Lasers or ourselves or both. Rinse boat. Derig. Change into something more comfortable. Consume our favorite post-sailing drinks and food possibly including a healthy fruit smoothie from the EZE Bar or more likely unhealthy beer or girlie rum drinks from the EZE Bar.

4ish until Rulo runs out of things to say or the sailors' rumbling stomachs say it's time for dinner-ish - debrief from Rulo about the drills and how terrible we all were, illustrated with many video clips proving what crappy Laser sailors we really are, thereby motivating all of us to start thinking about when we can get back to Cabarete for another vacation clinic.

(I hope you know that I'm only joking about Rulo and those videos. He really is a very supportive and helpful and positive coach - even to a crappy Laser sailor like me.)

5:30ish - return to hotel and shower and change into something even more comfortable possibly with palm trees or turtles or big fish on it.

7:00ish - stroll back to the EZE Bar and start evening festivities. And that's all I'm going to say about that. What happens in Cabarete stays in Cabarete.


George A said...

This sounds a lot like Rick White's Laser boot camp down in Key Largo. Several of us Moth Boat guys did that little session a few years ago. Good if exhausting fun! I don't know if Rick still holds that "clinic" or not. He's better known to catamaran sailors.

Tillerman said...

I did do one of Rick's Sunfish Laser clinics a few years back George. As I recall, Rick actually ran two sailing sessions a day with a lunch break in between. I looked at his website the other day and it is hard to work out if he is still running them. The link for "seminar schedules" takes you to a page for 2009-2010 seminars.

There is a summary of my experiences at 4 different Laser coaching organizations at Laser Coaching.

George A said...

The year we went, Rick had Kurt Taulbee helping with the drills. Yes, a morning session a break and then back out on the water followed by debriefing before they fed us. We hurt like hell after the first day but sailed our flabby winter bodies back into sailing shape by the last day! Back then Rick still owned a scrap of land on the inland side of the island which had the only sandy beach that I saw while down on Key Largo--he must have paid a fortune to have that sand trucked in! Taulbee (I think) has since gone out on his own and at least a couple years ago was offering similar training sessions out of Clearwater, FL.

Tillerman said...

Right George. I did stay once at Rick's Place in Key Largo. I took my own Laser down there in between two other regattas in Florida. Then I did a seminar with him at some place right at the north end of the Keys.

Yes, Kurt is still running his seminars in Clearwater Beach. I mention them in that link in my previous comment, and some of my friends and I are going down to Florida to train with him in early March.

George A said...

Tillerman: Classic Moths will be racing at Gulfport YC (the low rent district of St. Pete)over the weekend of 10/11 March--just a hop, skip and jump away from Clearwater.

Several of us will be staying at the Holiday Inn by the Clearwater airport. Maybe our paths will cross...hope so!

Tillerman said...

Don't be put off my my hyperbolic description of the dangers of the shore break. I am reliably informed that if you go there after March, there is no shore break in Cabarete.

Tillerman said...

George, my friends and I will be in Clearwater from March 1-4. Unfortunately it looks like our paths won't cross.

George A said...

Gosh, Tillerman, what a shame. I was all set to stand you a dark 'n stormy. Perhaps another time. Have fun at Kurk's laser boot camp and tell him "Hi" from the Moth Boat guys--he still may have the odd, reoccurring bad dream featuring us!

Tillerman said...

Thanks George. Actually I have this weird feeling that our paths have crossed before but I can't remember where or when!

George A said...

Hmmm, perhaps in the fall of '42 at Rick's " Cafe Americain" in Casablanca. I was looking for my Maltese falcon and my letters of transit...

Tillerman said...

LOL. I think it must have been my father that you met in 1942! He was in Africa around that time.

George A said...

No doubt, one of the "usual suspects".

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