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Thought for the Day - So what happened at Chipstead

I come home from meetings and often think to myself, if only I had done this or that, I would have a much better result. Not so at Chipstead, in fact I had to pinch myself that this was not a dream. So how did it happen.

Last week I researched a piece on something which had plagued me and thousands of other sportsman and that is anxiety. It is a debilitating thought process which affects performance and physiology. During that exercise, I may have cleared the way in my mind to deliver better performance. Time will tell on that one.

The day began as always running through my set up process, signing in, meeting old friends and then getting on the water to check the rig is OK. Wind was 2-8 knots. I always start with the base settings from the BG web site and then adjust the kicker tension, mast ram and backstay to get the boat perfectly balanced when sailing. I paid particular attention to how the jib leech opened out in the puffs and tightened the jib luff a couple of mm as the jib leach was opening too much. Once happy with the set up I checked both sides of the course for wind shifts and noted that the wind was swinging 30 degrees or so but you could see the shifts coming down the lake.

I was unusually relaxed on the start and was able to pick my position and pull the trigger and hit the line fast on the gun. The magic started here as I noted my boat sailed a fraction higher than any of the others but still tracked at the same speed. Gradually it lifted above the boats around which gave me the freedom to tack when I liked. Rounding the mark first, I was was able to escape the melee behind and pull away to win the first race. This became the pattern in most of the subsequent races. Oddly in the past, I would get more nervous as the day went on and start making silly mistakes but this did not happen.

After the first race I notice the boat struggling in the stronger puffs as the jib was looking too full. So I flattened it out to about 15mm depth and the boat responded to wind more efficiently.

In the second race I was taken out on the start line by a boat that sailed serenely down the line, ignoring any leeward boat and pushed them away from where they wanted to go. The race was done, there and too much ground to recover.

From race three on, I avoided any contact on the start line and got cleanly away in all but one of the remaining starts. Some of the wins were by a significant distance.

So what do I think the difference was. I applied the techniques in the previous post and to be honest, I have never been so calm and relaxed and I believe this affected the way I set the boat up and the way I saw the rig when sailing. I focussed on getting the leeches as tight as possible without stalling the boat. I had heard this is what the French team had done at the worlds and they were able to sail high and fast. This combined with good starts gave me the edge in nearly every race.

So a great way to finish the season and I plan to develop racing skills over the Winter at Frensham, Gosport and Emsworth. Nest year, there should be several open events, a couple of ranking events in the Spring and Summer, the UK Nationals in August, Europeans in October and maybe a trip to the French Nationals in the Summer. Fingers crossed it will be a great year.

That is it for significant posts this year. It was a good learning curve and experience and documenting activity and boat development, I find is a great way to consolidate thinking and develop new ideas. Enjoy winter or summer sailing wherever you are and hope to meet up somewhere next year.

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Olivier Cohen
Olivier Cohen
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You are welcome in FRA nationals, May 18th/21st on "La Ganguise" lake. Entries to be opened probably in March.


Simon Evans
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Very interesting thanks

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