After a short hiatus from this blog, I’ve decided to start a new series of posts detailing my experiences at various regattas. The aim is to give a bit of an insight in to what it takes to race in Olympic-level fleets, as well as sharing the lessons that I learn at these events to help everyone reading learn from my mistakes.
The first regatta I’ll talk about is the upcoming 2019 Laser Standard Men’s World Championships being held in Sakaiminato, Japan. Having lived in Tokyo for most of my childhood, I’m quite comfortable in Japan and it is always good to come back to my ‘second home’. Despite, living in Japan for so long, I’ve never been to this part of the country, and it is quite a stark contrast to the urban metropolis which is Tokyo.
Sakaiminato is a small fishing village located on Miho Bay in Tottori prefecture. According to the Japanese sailors, Sakaiminato is known as a strong wind venue…just not at this time of year.
As the wind arrows show, the wind rarely is generally between 10-15kts (5-7m/s), and that has proven accurate in the training thus far. The windiest training race we’ve done was in about 16kts with most of the training done in marginal hiking conditions. The sea state is mostly a short chop, not dissimilar to my home venue – Waterloo Bay in Brisbane. There also seems to be a bit of tidal flow, most likely attributed to the presence of the “Nakaumi – literally middle sea”. The Nakaumi is linked to Miho bay by a small river which opens up not too far from the regatta venue.
Training this week has consisted of a lot of racing, a bit of speed testing, and some starting practice. It is always good training prior to a big regatta as there are a lot of people to train with, and everyone is at their best. Although, it can sometimes get a bit out of hand with 80+ boats joining the training races, leading to some hectic rabbit starts.
In such a big fleet, it’s insanely important to keep clear air, and if you’ve already got a clear lane, to minimise tacking. It’s really easy to get caught up trying to tack on every small shift and end up sailing in dirty air, in the middle of the fleet.
My other big takeaway from the training days here, is about how important it is to use a number of inputs to judge your upwind angle (ie lifted or knocked). You can’t rely solely on your compass to judge shifts, it’s also important to look at the angles of the boats around you. In one of the practice races, I made the mistake of staying on a knock for far too long. Even though my compass was saying I was lifted, my bow was beginning to drop down in to the boats below me – a tell tale sign of a header.
I’ve got one more day left of training before racing on Thursday, stay tuned for the regatta journal.