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Thought for the day - A challenge to overcome

Racing in the Ranking event at Manor park was difficult for me, with shifty winds and most of the sailors suffering set backs at some point or another. However three sailors demonstrated over and over again that there was a way through the apparent random wind shifts and one in particular did not seem to notice any difficulty at all.

Manor park is a great venue. It has excellent facilities with a clubhouse on site containing showers, a kitchen and everything we could need for the event. There is a large expanse of water, the technical area is 20 feet above the water so one has a fantastic view of the racing, the only downside is the entire lake is surrounded by trees.

The PRO Hugh McAdoo set windward leeward courses and did a great job as the wind swung back and forth over the weekend. He was supported by a great race team who seamlessly ran the day without a hitch. That you all. The windward mark was set in an area where the wind divided left and right. On one approach the right may be favoured by 25 degrees and on another approach the wind could swing the other way.

The results are below.

When I unpack my performance over the weekend (7 and 13), it came down to what I was thinking or over thinking when on the race course. The results this weekend confirmed my decision not to enter the worlds as I am good enough yet in all conditions. So let me try an explain what I think happened.

First the boat. Everything worked perfectly with no gear hiccups. The rig setup was spot on and the boat fast.

Looking at the results over the weekend there was good and bad. First the good

numbers, 1 1 1 3 4 8 8. In the morning on Saturday I was on fire and posted some great results until I got tired and started the day on Sunday with an easy win but that was the only success of that day.

What this proves is I have the capability to be in the top 5 in the fleet on a regular basis. All I have to do is eliminate the inconsistencies and negative thinking.

Now the bad 14,14,15,23,22,13,13,14,16. Some of these results can be accounted for on the Saturday when I was very tired and pretty much switched off for the afternoon. There were were times when the boat was sitting head to wind and I could not figure out what to do. Bizarrely I woke up for the last heat on Saturday, winning B fleet and then getting a 4th in the subsequent A fleet. That night I had 11 hours sleep and felt much better in the morning.

So what was the predominant thought going through my mind in the afternoon and on the Sunday. "Don't be in the last four and get demoted into B fleet" As I learnt studying NLP, the mind has a wonderful way of turning a negative thought into a positive one and I managed to achieve a last four place in most races on Sunday. Of course I could get back into the A fleet easily but back came the thought and down I went again. As the day went on my stress levels went up and my sailing talents deserted me.

I had switched off a focus on wind shifts and sailing the boat to a focus on results (avoiding the last four places) and I know from my early days of sailing that is total disaster. Let me explain.

When I was learning to win in the International Cadet class back in 1971, I wanted to win races but it took me a long time to understand that to win races you have to be myopically focussed on the detail. It was by doing this in one race that I suddenly found myself with a healthy lead. Guess what I changed focus, went defensive to protect my position and promptly found myself back in the pack. After a few more races with the right focus I established myself as a top ranking Cadet sailor and went on to win the worlds and nationals and all events in between. Of course I had done a ton more practice than I have done in the One Metre so far.

You would think that having learnt this at a young age, the lesson would stick with me for life, but I can think of many days racing subsequently when I lost my focus and started thinking about the wrong things. You can guess how the results turned out. However there were many more races where my focus was in place and some of the tactical moves were works of pure genius. e.g. There were two yacht races that come to mind where in both cases we got it totally wrong on the outward legs and ended up over a mile behind the fleet but by keeping focus on what might be, we found unlikely opportunities that enabled us to win the race. As my Dad always used to say, be patient and never give up.

My challenge now is to get my head in the right place when racing and block out those negative thoughts that are holding me back. I obviously have the potential but need to let it out.

Enough of the introspection.

In summary there were several positives to take from this weekend:

A top ten overall result on Saturday when very tired

Several results in the top five and 3 race wins

No technical issues

I know what I need to work on over the winter.

A recent win at Emsworth Open and 2nd at Chelmsford

So what now:

Racing at Gosport over the winter with some top competition

Three more open meetings this year.

Get fitter for 2023.

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