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Campaigning moments to remember

Published on June 2nd, 2022

It is a long road to the Olympic Games, and for USA sailors, providing regular updates is needed to maintain interest and support. This is even more vital for a new team, and in this report by Lucy Wilmot and Erika Reineke, they bring us along on their latest adventure:

Training in Cascais, Portugal last month was hands down the best camp we have had to date in our Olympic campaign! Gaining plenty of much needed regatta experience this spring, we were finally able to prioritize boat speed improvements in May.

Cascais provided the ideal conditions to dive into the minutiae of rig tuning and technique with the new class equipment. The first half of the camp, we were blessed with a 6-10 knot sea breeze with swell. Each week after that the wind started to worked it’s way up to the mid-twenty knot range. Working with our coach and alongside the German and Spanish teams, we had the opportunity to trial different set-ups and improve on upwind moding.

With a multitude of various combinations to tweak in the 49er (i.e. jib tack height, pre-bend, wire tension, etc.), it was important to have a ‘control boat’ and an ‘experimental boat.’ Each line-up we would know exactly what the other boat changed and to what degree. This was not only efficient for discovering viable rig tune information but it also accelerated our understanding of the new equipment. In just a few days, our boat speed showed a significant boost in velocity; we were getting FAST.

Once we felt we had a better grip on the rig and what we wanted from it in order to achieve a certain mode for the given condition, it was time to test it in close contact boat-on-boat racing. Competitive as hell, all three teams treated each practice race as their last. We battled for positioning off the starting line, pushed to hold tight lanes to the favored side of the course, and constantly tried to put the next boat behind us. Situations like these made communication and technique a top priority until we knew we gained a favorable position on the course or among our opponents.

Looking back, this training camp was what we needed to take all we learned from the past three months of competing in World Cup events and practice it in a focused environment. Overall, in our testing we found that the solutions aren’t always as far away as they may seem and this gives us confidence going forward. Comparing before and after footage on our flight back home, it was interesting to see what a couple tweaks here and there allowed us to achieve in boat speed.

On a side note, another great experiment we took a whack at was staying on a 45ft sailboat we found on Airbnb. To say the least, the low price went unmatched by any other booking near the marina. Though oftentimes the lowest price can elicit some sketchy accommodation experiences, this turned out to be an unforgettable adventure! Waking up on the water to a beautiful sunrise, watching video debriefs in the cabin, and peaking through the hatch at night to see a mast illuminated by the moon were precious campaigning moments to remember.

Next stop on the summer tour, we have Kiel Week in Kiel, Germany, followed by the European Championship in Aarhus, Denmark. Thank you family and friends for believing in our team! We can’t wait to see our hard work pay off and make you proud. GO USA!

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