Tokyo 2020: Scaring the status quo

Published on June 12th, 2019

Paris Henken and Anna Tobias will be one of the interesting stories leading into the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. After Paris finished 10th at Rio 2016, she took a break. After Anna finished 4th at London 2012, she took a break. But break time is over, and this duo has come together to scare the status quo in the 49erFX women’s skiff event.

This USA team just wrapped up two training sessions in San Francisco, CA … here’s their report:

After getting home from our 10th place finish at the European Championships and taking a few days to recover, we headed to Richmond Yacht Club to set up our boat and start training again. Paris drove our boat up from San Diego, and Anna flew early morning across the country. We rigged up and hit the water around 3pm for an awesome session.

The wind was up and so was the chop. We knew it was shallow somewhere, and so we tried to stay away from that area, although as it turned out, we must have been skirting the edge of it.

We capsized in a gybe, and the boat just turtled so fast. We hopped off the hull as the boat started going over, and then we heard it…that crunch that no sailor wants to hear…the mast snapping in two on day one of sailing.

Fun Fact about Anna: She really doesn’t like the water…as in she is terrified of being in the water.

Anna was in the water for the majority of the time getting the mainsail down from the broken part of the mast, and to say the least, it was very uncomfortable for her…but as part of life’s habit of presenting ways to work on fears, it was a fear that needed to be worked on, and this definitely worked on it!

Fortunately, because of Richmond Yacht Club and Dan Brandt we were able to get another mast to sail with for the next few days as our new top section got shipped to us.

As the days progressed through the camp, the wind got windier and windier. We sailed the last day in a steady 25+ breeze. IT. WAS. AMAZING! All we could do was have a good time and laugh about how windy it was and how over powered we were.

But we learned so much and were able to get the boat going downwind (although we didn’t put up the kite because of the angle we had to sail). Eventually however, it got windy enough to the point that it was going to be safer to just take the main down and sail in under jib/ tow.

We knew we could do the bear away, but the risk of injury and stopping our training was not worth pushing it since we had accomplished one of the main goals for the day/week!

We took a few days break after five solid days in 20+ knots, and went home to re-coop/go to work, and then headed back for another five day session.

Session two was so much easier to sail. The wind was in the mid to high teens for most of the session, but having finished in what we did in the last camp, 18kts felt super easy…which was a nice feeling to have. We did, however, still have lots to work on.

Just because it felt easier, does not mean that we were perfect or as fast as we want to be, so we trained hard and focused on the goals of each day. The final two days, however, didn’t want to play nice. It was HOT!! And the wind blew off the land and was quite light. It felt good to get some light air sailing in, but it would have been a bit more fun to blast around before we took our next break.

Off the water, we had a great set up. We owe a huge thank you to the Wilmot family for housing us while we were in town. We had a great Squad with us both camps. In camp #2 we all stayed together at the house. We had a good system where Anna and Lucy Wilmot cooked the meals while Paris and Nate cleaned.

We had a workout area set up in the back of the house where we could push each other to get better every day! None of our equipment was fancy, but it was perfect for what we needed to get our off the water training!! The final morning, the squad met on the back deck at 7:30am and pushed through their Bradletes workout by Anna!

The next trip for us is to Kiel, Germany where we are looking forward to racing again!

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