Monday, February 1, 2010

Lesson Learned 2010 Rolex Miami OCR

After resting a bit after racing, I started thinking about how my result at the 2010 Rolex Miami OCR compares to my result at last year's regatta. The 104 Laser competitors were the overall largest fleet at the 2010 event. The fleet was 70% larger than the average of all the other Olympic class fleets, and was laced deep with talented sailors. On top of that, the wind shifts proved to be very difficult to master for all except Nick Thompson from Great Britain, who ran away with the series scoring six wins in ten races.

Paige Railey (USA Radial) and Nick Thompson (GBR Laser)
Olympic sailing power couple and RMORC winners

Clay Johnson, a strong contender to be the US Laser representative at the 2012 Olympics aptly describes what the on course conditions were like.

"In the first race, I had a great start near the pin and continued to the left. After a few minutes I got headed and took a good opportunity to tack and cross the fleet. I was in the top five group looking great as we crossed everyone from the right. As we continued across, the breeze lightened up a little and our angle began to cave. I looked over my shoulder and saw guys that I had crossed before looking great with pressure and a nice lift further left. So I hitched out to the left trying to get some of that. But things went downhill from there. When I got there the breeze was gone and then the right came in huge. I was left struggling to get back and ended up rounding the mark in the 30s. ........I tried to fight back throughout the race, but 12th to last place were so close that there wasn't much room on the course. I limped into the finish line in a miserable 40th place. ...It doesn't make things easier that every boat in the fleet is a rockstar, so any mistake you make will be jumped upon by others."

As I mentioned in my first post, my focus was on performance and not results. However, the results do show an improvement from last year where I finished in the 75th percentile (47th/63 boats) and this year finished in the 58th percentile (60th/104 boats).

As for my performance, I am quite satisfied and now have many things to work on to get to the next level. I can build on most aspects of my racing, including starts, speed, tactics, and fitness.

Starts: Good consistent starts make a huge difference, and this has not changed in 30 years. However, the technique has changed and the depth of excellent starters is bigger. I had one clean start leading to a 6th place finish. In the past, if I had more than one bad start at a regatta, it meant that I usually wasn't going to win. More than two bad starts lead to a really bad regatta.

Speed: My upwind speed in light to moderate wind was satisfactory. The feel is quickly coming back and every day I got more consistent and gained more confidence. Downwind was satisfactory at best and very inconsistent. I'm interested to see how long it takes to get my downwind speed up to world standard.

Fitness: I'll be back at the gym hitting it hard tomorrow. I saw a lot of sailors at the gym after racing each day either cooling down on the stationary bikes, stretching, or doing a weight workout. In a breeze I have some work to do to hang with these guys. It could be a long process but it will only happen in the gym, on the road bike and plenty of heavy air training.

Tactics: Only by improving in the above three areas will the tactics start to become a bigger factor. Most of this regatta I spent "back on my heels" and was left scrambling moments after the start trying to find a clean lane. It was hard to get into the flow and make the right decisions from playing catch up right from the start. The last two racing days in the Silver fleet I was able to focus more on the tactics and was getting back into the more subtle aspects of big fleet tactics.

After spending the day watching the medal races I celebrated a successful week with a 40 mile bike ride.

Laser Results

1 comment:

  1. HI John,

    I am very impressed by you & your attitude! You are one of the "all time" sailing legends and you are so modest and still keen to learn. I am a Finn sailor myself. I would like know if you have any idea to jump on a Finn again and do some sailing with this fantastic boat on which you left wonderful memories!
    All the best
    Giuseppe (GBR 688)