Anna Tunnicliffe: Dealing with delays

Published on December 11th, 2014

It is all to play for at the eighth and final Act of the 2014 Extreme Sailing Season, with four teams going for the overall season podium. Ten teams will compete on December 11-14 in Sydney, Australia to decide who will become 2014 Extreme Sailing Series™ world champion.

Leading the field is Morgan Larson (USA) and the Swiss team Alinghi, but the title is far from locked up. With excessive winds keeping the field onshore on day one (Dec. 11), Alinghi team member and Olympic gold medalist Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) provides an update…

We entered the final Act of the series with an eight point lead, but seeing as this event counts as double points, it’s technically like having a four point lead in normal scoring. When racing was called today at around 2pm, it seemed odd at first. Yes, the wind was up, but we had sailed in that before. Then about an hour and a half later, it was obvious as to why the decision was made. All of a sudden, winds hitting 35-40kts blew through the area as forecasted.

It was a safe and smart call on the race committee’s part, keeping the sailors and boats safe, especially considering it was only the first day of scheduled racing. As Nathan Wilmot of GAC Pindar put it, “We would have looked a bit silly if we went out there and capsized and broke masts and no-one was able to go out tomorrow.”

So with racing cancelled, we had the rest of the afternoon to do, well, whatever we wanted. When situations like this arise, part of the game is staying mentally in it. It’s tough when you are leading a series and then days like this come around, especially on the first day.

You want to get the racing underway so that you can get as many races in as possible to help average out the scores. But then, on the other hand, you are happy that it’s one less day of racing that your competitors have to catch up. However, if you begin to overthink strategies etc, it starts messing with your head and thinking clearly becomes difficult.

If you just stay relaxed and accept tomorrow as the first day of the event, go sailing and do your thing, then nothing has really changed. We start many regattas with light winds and don’t get in a whole series of races but it doesn’t change our mindset. We have to not let this ‘blip’ affect us; it is now a 3-day regatta rather than a 4-day.

We all just want to get racing. Once that first gun goes off, then everything is back to normal. Nerves subside, other distractions fade away, adrenaline kicks in and all there is to focus on is the present moment and what is needed at that precise moment in time. We all love that moment, the moment when there is nothing else in the world except what is happening right there. And that’s what we try to hold on to during delays such as this.

Fortunately for our team, we are all on the same page when it comes to this philosophy. Today was what it was; tomorrow (Dec. 12) the regatta begins. We are looking forward to the racing and when that first gun goes off, everyone will be focused on what needs to be done right then and there, and not be worrying about anything else.

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