Cayard Sailing Photos
Tuesday, June 01, 2004
The first sailing step for us was the World Championship in Italy, April 25-May2. Fortunately, the US Olympic Sailing organization planned to ship the boat of the winner of the US Trials to Italy. So the container was already ordered and we were able to meet a very tight shipping schedule after winning the trials on March 28th.
The boat arrived in Gaeta, Italy on April 20 the same day that Phil and coach Ed Adams arrived. The clearance went smoothly and they were able to get the boat assembled the next day. I arrived on the 22nd and we went sailing for four hours, some of that spent with Freddy Loof.
The first race day, April 25, brought a blustery North Easterly breeze into the Golfo de Gaeta. We started in about 18 knots but the wind quickly built to 25 and topped out at 28 knots. After a conservativeﾅpoor...start, we demonstrated very good speed up the first beat to round the first windward mark 8th. About half way down the run, a gust hit us, we rolled to windward and stuck the whisker pole in the water and snapped the rig. I added up the sum total of the loss this way; we destroyed our favorite rig, we destroyed our favorite mainsail, we destroyed our favorite jib, we missed a chance to get a good score in race one, we severely damaged our chance of winning the World Championship. That was a real shame and it is one of those things that you know how to avoid but just neither Phil nor I were paying enough attention that day. This was the first hint that we were mentally off our game as compared to the Olympic Trials.
Ian Percy and Steve Mitchell won that race and showed their great speed in the big breeze. Freddy Loof was in the top three showing his competitiveness in all conditions.
The next few races were a mix of conditions and we scored in the mid teens. Not getting great starts and making large comebacks from 30ﾒs at the first marks. Satisfying in one sense but not World Championship winning stuff. Meanwhile Loof, Percy, Grael and Neeleman were chalking up top 8 finishes.
In the last two races, one in 17 knots and the other in 8 knots, we scored a 2-3. We had excellent starts, great speed and rounded the first mark first in both races. But the lack of precise tactics cost us both of those races. Mark Reynolds beat us in the 5th race and Michael Koch (GER) and Stig Westergard (DEN) got by us in the last race by gybing inside us on the run and then laying the mark with a bit of current helping and otherwise shy layline. So it wasnﾒt Freddy Loof or Ian Percy speeding by us; it was a lack of mental competence at the critical moment. In looking back at the races in Italy compared to the Olympic trials, I can see the contrast.
This is the difference between winning and loosing at the top of any game. I am happy to have this illustration so clearly imprinted in my mind as a guide while preparing for Athens. Inevitably, in the Olympics, the competition is so strong that 8-10 teams have the talent and speed to win the medals. So it will be the teams that sails their best that week that will get them. That is the week that we have to have our ﾓAﾔ game.
In the end, we finished up 5th and top Americans for the third year in a row. This was a very credible comeback after the race 1 dismasting. The top ten of the World Championship were; 1) Loof/Eckstrom (SWE), 2) Marazzi/de Maria (SUI), 3) Percy/Mitchell (GBR), 4) Neeleman/Van Niekerk (NED), 5 Cayard/Trinter (USA), 6) Bromby/White (BER), 7) de Castro/Elorza (ESP), 8) Westergaard/Neergaard (DEN), 9) Rohart/Rambeau (FRA), 10) Heiner/Breuseker (NED).
The World Championship was also the final country-qualifying regatta for Athens. There were four slots up from grabs and they went to: Spain, Portugal, Canada and Germany. There is some irony in the case of Germany and hard luck in the case of New Zealand. Mark Pickle qualified Germany by just 2 points over New Zealand. However, because Pickle was not in the top 8 finishers, Alex Hagen gets the slot according to the German trials system. So Pickle eliminated the up and coming team of Rohan Lord/Andrew Taylor (NZL) at no benefit to himself. Lord/Taylor were nowhere in the Star class a year ago but they really put in the time and effort this winter in Miami and have improved tremendously. They had some bad luck in that they were in the top ten in the third race, which missed the time limit by two minutes. The re-sail of that race left them in 25th.
For Phil and I, the rest of this spring and summer will be spent going to SPA and Kiel Week for racing. Then in early July we will head to Athens and train on the site for about 1 month. Through all this it will be important to maintain our regime of physical training outside of the boat.
Then around August 5th, I will take a break to be with my family, maybe visiting Greece, and then come back to Athens in time for the Opening Ceremony on Friday, August 13th.
I have been sailing in the Star class for over 25 years now and I feel like the class has never been harder to win in. Possibly it is my age but I think more likely it is that the sport and the class have gotten more professional. The way I see it, I am getting a dose of rejuvenation here so the tougher the better.
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