In mid-November I was able to head to Australia and bring a long eagerly awaited 5 week training session. I was eager to get sailing again and was physically fit from intense fall training at home. Ready to take advantage of the spectacular Sydney weather, I joined an international group of sailors under coach Brett Beyer. In the following weeks I worked on various skills in the fresh conditions with some sessions topping out at 5 hours in duration. I was able to make great strides in my boat speed across the wind ranges and truly elevate my thoughts while sailing to break down what going ‘fast’ means.
Stretching out in the open ocean
After two weeks of windy training in Sydney harbour I competed in three back to back regattas. Getting to the first regatta meant a 12 hour drive to Melbourne. In the Sail Melbourne warm up regatta (where not everyone participated but it was still great practice) I executed well tactically and finished 1st.
The ISAF Sailing World Cup main event in Melbourne ran December 9-13th and attracted some of the world’s top sailors. We raced in all sorts of conditions from light shifty to windy and wavy but I struggled in parts around the race course. The result was a disappointing 13th place – just out of the medal race. I let many races slip out of my hands with flawed decision making and inconsistent downwind speed.
Going downwind at Sail Melbourne
The final regatta of my Australian trip was Sail Sydney. Back in Sydney, I only had a couple days to rest before the racing began. On one day off we took the coach boat out and watched the SOLAS Big Boat Challenge which is a big boat race usually done by the largest boats competing in the Sydney to Hobart race. Since I would not be around for the start of the distance race, this was an amazing opportunity to see the 100 foot supermaxis in action. I later found during the Sail Sydney racing we would see them again, this time cutting right through our course!
SOLAS Big Boat Challenge – Perpetual Loyal and Ragamuffin 100
I had great speed during the racing but sometimes did not fully commit to the favoured side of the course. This slightly conservative approach means I did not lock away my leads and come back from a deficit as easily as I would like. I ended up 5th place with a lot to take away from the racing, but overall happy. I had done lots of training in Sydney Harbour but the racing was next level hectic. In every race we were dodging motorboats, ferries, 18 ft skiffs, 100 ft supermaxis all while trying to surf their wake upwind. It really made for some interesting racing!
On the way home I spent a wonderful two days visiting family in New Zealand before heading back to Toronto for the holidays. In the New Year I will be heading to Miami to begin preparations for the ISAF Sailing World Cup – Miami regatta.