Positive approach for Tokyo 2020

Published on July 2nd, 2019

Stephanie Roble (left) and Maggie Shea

Stephanie Roble and Maggie Shea are the top ranked US team in the Olympic Women’s Two Person Skiff event (49erFx), and on August 3-10 will be representing USA at the 2019 Pan Am Games in Paracas, Peru. Here’s a report they shared from the training trail:

After three big regattas in Europe this spring, we were excited to get back to summer training to work on the things we learned and weaknesses in our game. For our June training block we went to beautiful Lake Garda, Italy.

The conditions in Garda are awesome – the Lake runs North/South and in the morning there is usually a strong northerly (Vento) and then it dies around noon and fills from the south (Ora) with a breeze ranging from 12-22 knots.

Because of this we were able to get in a lot of double sessions – 08:00 launch, pasta lunch (yum!), and then training again at 13:30. We were really excited to spend a lot of time in conditions we call “always overpowered” because we have some speed gains to be made.

Our coach Giulia Conti (4-time Olympian) organized a four day “Coach Regatta” in the beginning which attracted 11 teams and an opportunity to practice race execution in more of a training environment. It was an awesome event with tricky lake shifts and windy racing. We were second overall to our Argentinian training partners.

A big tool a skiff team can have is to start on port tack when it is windy and you want to go to the right side of the course. Since last year, our starts have become a big strength for us but we have started on port only a handful of times in racing. So with a lot of teams on the line, we used this opportunity to learn more about executing these starts.

It was fun because everything was opposite and felt so awkward at first, like brushing your teeth or writing with your opposite hand. But we made huge improvements with these starts over the training and are excited to bust it out if we have the opportunity in racing.

We also focused a lot on locking into our boat speed faster after the start and out of maneuvers. We feel like this is always an area to gain and so Giulia organized drills like the cone drill (coach boat engine is moving windward mark) and corridor drill (tacking between coach boats). With a lot of boats you can easily see who is gaining best out of maneuvers but since you are racing the whole time, it combines the elements of communication, tactics and boat handling execution. So much fun!!

We talked a lot about how we can refine what we say around the race course to become more efficient and clearer with communication in racing. With Maggie trimming the mainsheet and Steph holding the tiller, it is important that our communication is solid so we can have the best modes and VMG around the course while balancing all of the other elements.

The environment we create for training and racing is really important and we want to enjoy the process and journey on and off the water. We aim to have an open learning environment so we can grow and be better than the day before.

Off the water we had a great dynamic with Vicky Travascio and Sol Branz from Argentina because we shared an apartment and cooking responsibilities. We pushed each other to the max on the water and then came together as a team to learn as much as possible and also laugh about any ridiculous moments on the water.

This positive environment makes a huge impact on how we approach each day in order to get the most out of ourselves, our teammates/training partners, and coach. We are so grateful we had the opportunity to train in such an epic place with great people. The goal was to put a ton of hours on the water and we left Garda absolutely exhausted and full of new knowledge.

July 2-18 – Training & coach’s regatta – Enoshima, Japan
July 28- August 11 – Pan American Games – Paracas, Peru
August 15 – 22 – Olympic Test Event – Enoshima, Japan
August 25 – 31 – World Cup Series Enoshima

For more information: https://www.roblesheasailing.com/

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