Harken Derm

Erika Reineke: It takes a village

Published on June 27th, 2019

While many of the Olympic classes are not too active in North America, that can’t be said about the Laser and Laser Radial. As the equipment for the Men’s and Women’s One Person Dinghy event at Tokyo 2020 Olympics, there is good competition for the USA selection. Among the favorites is Erika Reineke who reports from the village:


The US Radial National Team and the Olympic Development Program (up-and-coming Olympic hopefuls) worked together in June to improve heavy air technique. During the summer months, there is no better place to refine these skills than the Bay Area in San Francisco, CA.

Throughout the entire twelve day camp, the conditions were nothing less than superior. Each day around noon, the cold Pacific air rushed in through the Golden Gate Bridge. This occurs due to the significant temperature difference between the cool ocean and the heated land. Since high pressure (cool air) flows to an area of low pressure (hot air) in the path of least resistance, the opening at the bridge becomes a hot spot for intense wind strength.

To optimize my training needs within a bigger group, Coach Steve Mitchell and I came up with a list of objectives to focus on at the camp. After reviewing performances from this year’s events, we set our sights on experimenting with proper heavy air sail set-up, improving sheeting frequency and accuracy, and hiking stamina.

With each day producing the same spectacular wind conditions as the last, I built up confidence in altering sail shape and recognizing the different feel each shape elicits in the helm. Overall, I concluded that when the boat has a “skipping” feeling while going upwind in 18+ knots, the sail shape is correct and I am going fast.

As for sheeting frequency and accuracy, I have improved tremendously since our Miami camp in December. Thinking of the mainsheet as a gas pedal, I have gotten the boat to respond/maneuver the way I want while keeping it balanced through the water.

The only downside to the increase in sheeting repetitions is that my bicep is now equally as sore as my quadriceps when I come off the water. Ha! However, the pain and fatigue are completely worth it if the boat is moving as fast as it can through the water.

Speaking of pain, advancing hiking stamina was our final objective for the camp. After five intense days of fiercely grinding it out on the water with the National Team and ODP, my legs gave out and turned into noodles. If you have never experienced this sensation, I can tell you that it is an extremely odd feeling. Your mind is telling your body to keep pushing but your body has nothing left in the tank to give.

Reaching this point of physical exhaustion, I know I pushed myself as hard as I could and improved on my process goals. On my rest day, I rewarded myself with a hike through the Muir Redwoods State Park and some chocolate ice cream. Yum!

With all the hard work I put in over the last year, this camp concludes my preparations for the 2019 Radial World Championships in Sakaiminato, Japan. That being said, I am so incredibly excited to depart for this event on July 9th. Every morning I look at my calendar and cross off the days till the competition begins.

This event will also be the first of three to be counted towards the early USA selection procedures for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. So, stay tuned…

To support Erika… click here.

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