As I looked at the number of posts over the last couple of year I began thinking about the post ideas that had the most impact on my sailing.
After careful consideration I think there are two that made a significant difference:
When I sailed in my first nationals at Fleetwood, from arrival I was overwhelmed with the number of boats and the big starts. In the practice races there could be up to 30 boats on the start line. It is strange how your body reacts to difficult situations but reassuring to know that the majority of athletes suffer from anxiety in one form or another. Whether it is just the novelty of the situation or the toughness of the mental challenge, anxiety leads to poor performance. I got into the mentality that I was good in B fleet but each time I got promoted to A fleet, I was immediately spat out the back of that fleet. On the plus side it meant I got to do lots of racing as I went up and down the heats. The same thing happened in my second Nationals at Castle Semple. It was only at the ranking event in Manor Park where one of the top sailors said I was overthinking, I set to work to research and resolve.
Once I understood what makes one anxious and how to overcome it, my sailing was transformed although it has yet to be tested in a ranking event or Nationals. The cure is quite straight forward and is covered in a previous blog or on the web site.
Now when I turn up at a meeting I focus exclusively on a process that prevents me worrying about anything irrelevent that used to go on in my head.
The other element is to put the boat in the right position compared to the fleet. One needs to think ahead to do do this and rehearse various scenarios before racing so positioning becomes automatic. I am sure those that have been in this sport forever and there are many, do this automatically. Again I cover this on the web site. Simple examples applied at Hampton court were:
Be the most windward boat on the start line when boats to leeward could not tack across you.
If after the start all the boats sail on starboard to a bank, be the first to the bank so you can call room to tack
Always come into a windward mark fast on starboard to stop any port tackers crossing in front.
So there it is. Barrow's racing priorities.
Of course there is the minutiae of detail you have to attend to in racing a radio controlled boat but for me there is nothing more important other than perhaps the minor tweaking of backstay, mast ram and kicker to achieve a great setup, oh, and time on the water racing to keep your skills sharp.