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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Holidays

So a lot has happened since the last blog post! Wednesday we actually had light wind and some sun which was a nice change. We were postponed on shore for an hour or so and then headed out and had two races. We finished very poorly in both races, but the first race was good in that we had a really good start and great first upwind. It was very choppy and the wind was very patchy which made the conditions really tough. Thursday was again very windy, 25+ knots and big waves. Along with many other boats, we opted to not sail the last two races of the event and just pack the boat up early. We didn't want to risk breaking any gear and didn't see much point in spending the day swimming considering our results in the event and our goals for the event (to try and relax and enjoy sailing!) During Hyeres we decided we would continue to Barcelona and the Olympic Qualifier, but instead of going straight to Barcelona and training immediately, we would take a week off of sailing to try and rest and recuperate and come back into the event relaxed and with a positive outlook. Hannah has gone to Whales with one of the other Canadian 470 sailors for a few days, and I have gone to Croatia with my good friends Romana and Enia, the Croatian 470 team. I drove in the van with the Croatian sailors and Romana has so far been an amazing host. Yesterday we went rafting in an annual rafting race organized by her father. We placed 5th overall and the most amusing part is I was interviewed and appeared on national television because it was so strange to have a Canadian in the event! We will return to Barcelona on the 5th and start training for the 470 World Championships, which begin on May 13th. Thanks to everyone for all their positive support and wonderful emails! Feel free to email us we love to hear from home.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Hyeres Day Three

So Southern France is beautiful and all, but man it is windy and the wind is cold!!! We have had two races a day since starting racing on Sunday. Sunday was 20 knots for the first race (swimming lessons) and 25 for the second race, which we opted to not sail and came in early. Monday we had only 15-20 knots, and had two races. We struggled with our starts and speed. Today the forecast was for 30 knots at 2 pm. So the race committee changed our start time to 9 am. Now, this might seem acceptable to you - you probably start work at 9 am. But it takes over 30 minutes to sail down to our course, which is like 4 miles away. So this morning I got up just after 6 to go run and stretch (otherwise my back will not function correctly) then we got to the boat park at 7, and launched just before 8 am. I've started a few races at home in Alberta at 9 am, but nothing like this! So we had two races in 20 knots. Our first race we actually did really well! I think because we chose the correct gear setting for the conditions. We had a not great start but were at the biased end, tacked on a few shifts and just generally went fast. We lost boats on the reach/run after a slow spinnaker hoist but then gained back a bunch of boats on the second beat. Best of all, we didn't capsize at all! The second race we again had a bad start at the biased end but had trouble getting clear and ended up sailing on the headed tack a lot. We were hit by a huge puff on the reach and capsized. Normally this would be fine, but for some reason the jib kept re-cleating and we couldn't get the boat up for about 10 minutes. By this time the fleet was GONE. We decided to head in as we had had one really good race. On the way in just as we came into the harbour the block on our rudder came off, so I'm really happy it didn't happen during a race, or we we would have had no steering! The great thing about the early start this morning was even after the hour long sail in, it was still before noon! Home to shower until out of hot water and then I had an excellent nap. It is now extremely windy but sunny! Tomorrow the forecast is for slightly less wind but I will believe it when I see it. We have been trying to be more social since getting to Hyeres, it has been really nice to have a rental car so we can go visit people and still get home at a reasonable hour. Actually, the best part about our black rental car is getting in after sailing (still in our wetsuits) and it is super warm inside and we just drive home and shower/change there! Okay the regatta website is here. There are loads of pictures from the event so take a look.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Sailing Update from Hyeres

Dear supporters, Sorry we have been out of contact for so long. We finished the regatta in Palma on a low note, struggling with basically everything. We then travelled to Les Sablettes, France to set up for 470 Spring Cup. We had one day of training in 20 knots before the event started. We had a variety of conditions over five days of competition. The racing for us was a repeat of Palma. We struggled to make smart decisions, made plenty of stupid decisions, and just couldn't seem to pull things together. On Friday after a bad day of racing we were both very demoralized and unhappy. Our motivation and happiness is something we have been struggling with this entire trip. It has felt most of the time like we are working extremely hard at banging our heads against the wall. We have seen very little actual progress in our racing skills, even though we improve in training. Things finally came to a head on Sunday in Les Sablettes. We came in from racing after the first race after a particularily negative conversation with our coach. Hannah and I went for a walk and had a long talk. We decided we could no longer continue working with Bunny, our coach. He is an amazing technical coach but personality wise we were all not getting along and clearly the relationship was not functional. We went racing on Sunday on our own, and actually had the best day of racing we've had since arriving in Europe. We didn't sail brilliantly, but we didn't make any massive blunders and we felt much more calm. There was one last race on Monday, and then on Tuesday we packed up and moved to Hyeres for La Semaine Olympic Francais de Voile. We have decided to do Hyeres on our own without a coach so we can focus on our teamwork and communication and then make a decision on whethor or not to continue to Barcelona and compete in the Olympic qualifier. This whole process has been very difficult for both of us. We feel an obligation to our family and friends and financial supporters to see this campaign through to the qualifier and try our hardest. However, we also feel a responsibility to our selves to not be completely miserable and anxious and stressed throughout the process, and to be realistic about our chances of qualifying at this point with our results to date. Aside from the sailing, I should add that the trip so far has not been a complete bust! We have also had some amazing experiences and made some good friends. We greatly enjoyed touring old town Palma and the cathedral, as well as cliff diving on the other side of the island. Les Sablettes and Southern France in general is absolutely amazing. The scenery, the friendly people and the food have all been highlights of the trip! We have uploaded some photos to picassa for you to view. Whatever we decide to do in the next month, we would like to end this campaign on a positive note. We are continuing to train hard both on and off the water and we hope to come away with a positive outlook on sailing and racing after Hyeres. We have both learned an incredible amount during this trip about sailing, life and ourselves and we know this will be put to good use in the future. I hope you will all understand and support our decisions.
South France
Spain 2012

Friday, April 13, 2012

Spring Cup Day 2

Today was day two of racing at Spring Cup. I'll be honest, we are not doing so hot. We are really struggling with getting things sorted out on the race course. As Bunny keeps reminding us, we only have 2 or 3 main things to remember on each leg of the course, and yet we are still dropping the ball. Yesterday we had a 2 pm start and two races in light winds. The last race was a joke, the wind totally died half way through. The race committee should have abandoned it or shortened it earlier. As it was, we spent over 40 minutes in no wind trying to finish. The boats at the back of the fleet started pumping, so then everyone did as well. So basically the jury did nothing, while everyone pumped their boats across the finish line. Totally ridiculous. Generally our starts are better, but our decision making was terrible. Sailing all over the middle of the course and giving boats away at all the marks. Today was similar. We had an 11 am start schedule, but then there was no wind, rain and clouds. We were postponed on shore and then went out at 11.30. Then we sat around on the water for over 3 hours, while the wind switched directions every 10 minutes. I don't blame the race committee for not racing us in it, but it would have been much more comfortable to be sitting on shore (since it is so close) until the wind stabilized. Finally we had 2 races in puffy shifty wind from the shore. Again, decent starts but poor decision making and we just couldn't get it together. Despite the terrible racing, we have been having some nice BBQ's in our garden each evening. Bunny is quite the BBQ'er and tonight we had grilled chicken, sausage, peppers and corn with a nice salad and some red wine. We will try again with the racing tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Gearing Up for Spring Cup

Hello from sunny France! It is currently blowing about 25 knots with some nice waves crashing into shore, but it's still sunny, strange concept for an Alberta girl... Today we spent our time getting organized for Spring Cup; got registered, our sails measured, and our brand new mast set up, all tuned in and ready to go! Racing starts tomorrow at 2pm and goes till Monday. The forcast is for a solid 10-15 knots for the first couple days then dying out, so we will get some good medium racing practice in. The regatta is supposed to have around 50 boats, guys and girls will be mixed and there will be two fleets. The location is amazing! We went to Sanary for supper last night, it was beautiful. It was kind of windy and rainy, but gorgeous none the less. I tried blood sausage, not knowing that it's actually made of blood and I actually really enjoyed it! Untill Erin's comment, "Just try to ignore the slight metallic taste!" Then I was done with that idea. But overall, I am personally enjoying France more than Spain, just food and scenary wise. It also might have something to do with being able to decipher the language a little bit better than Spanish too... I'm not as comfortable with French as Erin is, but it's still pretty cool! We will keep everyone posted with how Spring Cup goes, then we are off to Hyeres! :) P.S. We are sorry about the lack of communication, it took a while for us to track down some decent wifi.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Les Sablettes

Hello everyone. Sorry again for the lack of updates. Internet is sketchy and hard to come by! We drove from Palma (well, took the Ferry) to France on Sunday afternoon. We spent the night in a hotel just across the French border. Arrived in Les Sablettes the next morning and put the boat together. It was a beautiful day, and I discovered my French from French Immersion school 10 years ago is actually useful! Not great but I can get the point across and get dinner ordered and make small talk. It is very beautiful here, except now it is rainy and cold! We got on the water today with our new mast up in about 15-20 knots and huge waves. Tomorrow it is supposed to be a big storm, so maybe no sailing. Racing starts on the 12th for this regatta, which is Spring Cup. A small 470 event, should be pretty relaxed and supposed to be fun. Good practice racing, as we clearly need it after Palma! We are staying in a tiny apartment in a house owned by a friend of another Canadian 470 sailor Oliver Bones. We are literally 500 m from the yacht club, and our boat is 20 m from the house on the beach, so the commute is nice!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Packing up in Spain

Hello, just a quick note to update you all. The regatta finished today and we are just eating dinner before going to the castle for the prize giving. Yesterday we had 2 races in 18 knots and waves the size of small houses I kid you not. We really struggled with the waves, but did manage to have a really good start in the last race, so good we were black flagged! Today there were similar conditions and we got very wet in the Coachboat watching the medal races. Tomorrow we take the ferry to Barcelona and then drive to spring cup in les sablettes, France. We will try and write more and get up some pictures in the next couple days. Thanks for all the nice emails from everyone at home!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Day Two

Okay so today was day two of racing here in Palma. Got down to the boat park early and managed to get our package from England - NEW matching rashguards so we look like a real team! We launched at 10 am for an 11 am start in light wind from S-SW. Breeze was filling more on the left, so we started down at the pin for the first race. Actually managed to have a great start! Were right up at the top of the fleet which is so very nice! Missed a shift on the first upwind and ended up too far on the left at the top. We rounded in 21st which is still great. Lost a few on the reach, had an okay run, lost a few at the mark (Spanish boat doing I don't know what inside the gate snagged our spin sheet on their tiller and much shouting and foul language ensued). Second upwind did okay, but again missed an opportunity to pick up boats. So we ended up farther back in the fleet, but I'd rather work on slowing the loss of boats than trying to gain them back after a bad start. The second race the wind was all unstable and all over the place, big black clouds and white fluffy ones all around and the sea breeze trying to come in. We started at the boat planning on going right. Our start was not great, basically we were a bit early and so didn't accelerate enough and then got totally rolled by the Russians, who did exactly what we had been trying to do! So we tacked out to the right, missed an opportunity to cross the fleet, and then got wound up on the outside of the fleet as a massive left shift came down. Finally we tacked over, and then a massive right shift came in. One of those races.... so we rounded the top mark second last. The reach was okay, the downwinds in this race were actually really good, we picked up a few boats. The second beat we had no idea what was going on and couldn't get our speed on and spent too much time in the middle of the course. So today we had much better starts, but then after the starts we missed big opportunities to gain by crossing the fleet. This is a lesson for both of us - don't wait for the fleet to go, because everyone else is waiting for you to go. So we all just wait for someone to tack first, and sail out to the corners of the course. We got off the water at 2 pm today - really early! And just as we finished rinsing off the boat the seabreeze finally kicked! Well, at least the 49er's made use of it. Tomorrow is the same schedule with an 11 am start and two races. Same game plan - get off the starting line, make better decisions, try and climb up some more.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Princess Sofia Regatta Day 1

Good evening! It is the end of the first day of racing in Arenal. We are just relaxing after a long day of racing in marginal light/medium air with tough choppy water. Well, I'm writing this while Erin writhes in pain, rolling out and stretching her quads and back. This is our relaxation time. I also hear a few profanities and absurdly loud cracks every now and then.

Anyways, as for the racing, we had an interesting day. The start was postponed from 11:00am to 1:30pm, when the sea breeze finally clicked, so we had a bit of time to catch up on gossip from Perth and catch up with some friends.

After we did make it on the water, our speed was awesome when we got our boat trim right, which unfortunately wasn't as often as it needs to be. Our biggest issue was getting off the start line. However, we were starting like rockstars when we were in Miami so I think it is just a matter of getting used to the 52 boat fleet and world class competition.

The wind should be good the next couple days- nice sea breeze and sunshine! Hopefully we can pull everything together; the trim, speed, tactics, and starts and get some solid results!!

We shall keep everyone updated, and you can follow the results online on the Princess Sofia Regatta event page!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Racing Tomorrow


We have been training in Palma, Mallorca for the past three weeks and now it is race time! Yesterday we had a great day off. We drove to the other side of the Island with the Canadian Finn sailors and (some of us) went cliff diving into the ocean! It was gorgeous and we had a nice lunch overlooking the water. Today we put up our race sails and registered and looked over the boat.

Tomorrow is the first day of racing at the Princess Sofia Cup here in Palma. This is the first of three practise competitions for us before our World Championships in May. There are over 50 boats registered in the Women's 470 fleet so our goals for the event are to stay out of trouble and to improve steadily each day. There are 11 races scheduled between Monday and Saturday, so lots of racing practice to be had! It has been sunny and beautiful the past few days and hopefully it will stay that way and we will have good breeze for the event. You can check out the regatta and the results on the event website at  http://www.trofeoprincesasofia.org  and we will try and update the blog each day after racing.

Here is a link to the Spain photo album:
Spain 2012