Kiel Week day 2

22 07 2008

So day 2 was an awful day for us.  The breeze was slightly higher than day one, and we just couldn’t manage to get the boat going all day.  It was offshore from day 2 onwards, so it was gusty and shifty, which didn’t help us finding the groove, but all in all we just sailed badly.  It wasn’t until the final race that we finally figured it out and hit the groove, but by then, after 4 races, it was too late and we ended with 3 bad scores.

On the final run of the 3rd race, we gybed on the layline and dropped to the knots to finish.  With about 100 metres to go (we were absolutely flying, in around 18 knots and slightly below the layline), we heard a massive bang.  After a few second of desperately checking the rig, everything seemed ok.  We finished, and dropped the kite.  I did a quick check of the rig, to discover that the shackle holding the spinny block to the top of the mast had exploded.  Great, one more race and we’ve just lost our spinny block.  Without a support RIB, we had to capsize and spend 10 minutes tying a new block to the mast tip.  Luckily we finished with about a minute to go before the next sequence, and got to the start line in time.

So day two dropped us into the silver fleet.  We had set out to pick up 4 top 14 results which would put us in gold, but a bit of inexperience and lack of racing this year meant that we had to spend the rest of the week in silver fleet.  Still, silver fleet is always pretty good quality (well, the top half is) so we packed up and went to prepare for tomorrow.

Awesome weekend

16 06 2008

We’ve just finished a fantastic weekends training in the Solent.

With us leaving for Kiel week this friday coming, we trained with Rich Mason and Tom Peel over Saturday and Sunday as a final weekend sharpening up practice. Although we drove to Lymington expecting light winds, the Solent delivered a sunny, 16knot seabreeze day with short steep chop. Amazing…

After agreeing rig settings with Rich and Tom (it’s good to know what the other boats is sailing on so you can compare. We chose slightly lighter settings with a straighter mast), we hit the water to be greeted by the aforementioned kick ass sea breeze. Both boats quickly took on some turns and set off on a long tuning run. First result went to rich and Tom, creeping away from underneath us to lead by about a boatlength over 10minutes of upwind sailing. We took a few more turns and some more jib tension (the breeze was building) and set off onto another run. this time, we seemed to have much better pace, and could sail faster on a bow-down course, and higher and faster when we wanted to climb away. although our boat speed was similar in a straight line, we just seemed to react to the gusts and chop marginally quicker (and when I say marginal, I mean gaining half a meter each gust. not much, but it does add up). After a few more upwind tuning runs, we popped the kites for some downwind training.

Now, the next part of our training was obviously designed by helms, not crews. The 50 gybe challenge (invented by Team GBR coach Harvey Hillary) is a long downwind leg where boats have to, yes you’ve guessed it, gybe 50 times in quick succession. I used to think gut-busters were hard, but the 50 gybe challenge (particularly the last 15) was exhausting. Still, we got through it without looking dangerous which we felt was pretty good considering the steep chop we found just of Cowes. Although we had more pace upwind over the weekend, Rich and Tom we’re EXTREMELY rapid downwind. We struggled with our training kite whilst they had a good quality kite up, but even so, the boys have some pretty devastating downwind pace.

After the long downwind legs, we ran a 20 minute “tacking every 20 seconds” drill, which again was great practice. Both boats were very evenly matched, only gaining or losing due to the conditions on either side of the course. After 20 minutes upwind, we were still meeting bow to bow in the middle, no matter which side each boat took.

We finished off Saturday with some long races followed by several extreme shortcourse races with a set number of tacks and gybes each leg. Again, both boats were very equal, although we did manage to win more races than we lost. But again, it was generally even. Rich and Tom seemed slightly less hurried over the very shortcourse races, but we seemed to pull ahead when the course was a little longer.

Sunday dawned with slightly less sea breeze due to the lower temperature, but still gave us 12-14knots of wind to play with. Sunday was a mirror image of Saturday: Long downwind legs against the tide (with Rich and Tom showing some more pace) followed by extended tacking legs and tuning runs (again, our upwind pace seemed to pop us out in front). We finished off the weekend with some starting practice, triggers and short course races.

Overall we notched up six hours on the water, plus a couple of hour bike rides in the evenings. In the final week run up to Kiel, we are both hitting the gym each day plus logging 5 high intensity rides to top off our training. Roll on Germany!