Friday, April 30, 2010
International Sailing Academy Training Camp
I just finished a week of training at the International Sailing Academy in La Cruz, Mexico with some of our top North American Laser sailors. It was an incredible experience and the most productive training camp I've ever attended. The same sentiment was voiced by all the participants.
The camp was thrown together at the last minute by Clay Johnson, Rob Crane and Chris Dold after the flight disruptions to Europe caused all of us to miss the French Olympic Week in Hyeres. Clay sent out an email to the group that said "why don't we get together in Mexico for training as an alternative to Hyeres." Less than 24 hours later, everyone confirmed to meet in Mexico in two days!
The plan was irresistible. It involved a group of highly motivated top Laser sailors, one of the world's best Laser coaches, Luther Carpenter, and an all-inclusive price including boat, lodging, food, and coaching. Not to mention, the promise of spectacular sailing conditions.
The International Sailing Academy is owned and operated by a couple of top Canadian Laser sailors, Chris Dold and Vaughn Harrison. The facilities and venue are world class and offer a unique experience. It is based out of the newly built Riviera Nayarita Marina in the town of La Cruz, that just hosted two major regattas, 2010 Mexorc and Regata Copa de Mexico. It is a twenty five minute cab ride from the Puerto Vallarta international airport with easy and affordable service from all major North American airports. They have 10 new Lasers that we ramp launched from the marina, and from there it is a quick two-minute sail into the Banderas Bay.
One of the best features is the consistent wind. Early in the morning the winds are light and from the south. By eleven o'clock it starts to build as it swings to the west, and in the afternoon we saw a steady 15-18 knots. It was easy to tailor our training program based on this consistent wind pattern.
Another great feature was the food. Our meals were prepared by Leah Danielson and served at her home, which also houses the North Sails loft and overlooks the Marina and Bay. She has worked in the catering business both on yachts and in restaurants and is a fantastic cook. The food was fresh, local, healthy and delicious. She catered to our individuals needs and requests. It was convenient and really nice not having the hassle of eating out every night. The option to eat at the local restaurants is also quite easy, because the town is just on the other side of the marina.
Because this was an elite group of Laser sailors, we would launch at 12:30 to take advantage of the building sea breeze to work on fitness and speed testing. To get the blood flowing, we would begin the day doing laps around a very short windward-leeward course for a half hour. Afterwards we would do up to 2 hours of upwind "speed sprints" followed by a series of speed runs back to outer harbor. We would finish the day with a series of short sprint races. One day we launched early to tow up the coast and spent four hours just working on downwind technique and drills. After quickly unrigging in the protected harbor, we went up to the the house/sail loft for a quick stretch and filling meal. The video debrief was held the following morning at the villa before breakfast.
I continue to be impressed by the current group of aspiring Olympic sailors. They are smart, clever, motivated, and focused. Instead of accepting the setback of missing a major international regatta, they found a way to turn it into a huge positive. I wouldn't be honest if I didn't admit that we were all quietly pleased that the French regatta was a virtual washout with little to no breeze.