August 15, 2012

Up and Down races at the Games

Our racing at the Olympics seemed uncharacteristic for our team. While in the past we had finished events with only one or two top finishes and an array of consistent finishes, this time we seemed to have a lot of races where we pushed to the front of the fleet, but we also had to keep some deep races on the scoreboard.

We finished the regatta in 16th, though actually only a few points away from making the medal race. All in all it was a good fight to the end, and the intensity on the race course was maintained throughout the whole event. It was also bitter sweet, as we showed that we were close to being able to fight for the top positions, but we had at least one too many bad races to put together a solid event .

Congratulations to Nathan Outerridge and Ian Jensen (AUS) for securing the gold medal with a race to spare, likewise to Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) with the silver, and to Allan Norregaard and Peter Lang (DEN) who battled till the last race to get the bronze.

We are grateful for the huge number of people organizations who helped us train and prepare for the Olympics. There are too many to list them all, but some of the bigger organizations are:

The Canadian Sailing Team, Wind Athletes Canada, CAN Fund, Royal Vancouver Yacht Club, Royal Canadian Yacht Club, West Vancouver Yacht Club, Samson Ropes, Gill North America, Ehvert Engineering, Western Marine.

Thanks also to our coaches, who are were very on the front lines with us: Steve Mitchell, Jason Rhodes, Rodion Luka, Javier de la Plaza, and many others who worked hard to get us on form.

July 3, 2012

Update from the Coaches Regatta

We are wrapping up one of our last training blocks in Portland and Weymouth, and will wait for the Olympic venue to re-open mid-July before we continue our on the water training. Last week we sailed four days of the 'coaches regatta', run by US coach Dave Hues and the other coaches with 49er teams here.

We were lucky enough to work with Ukranian silver medalist Rodion Luka for the week. The regatta featured about three races a day, and while it wasn't as competitive as a 'real' world cup event, it was a big shakedown for us and our gear leading up to the games. With the conditions ranging from foggy and light wind, to sunny and 20 knots we had some good racing and were able to try out our new Canadian Olympic spinnaker in the lighter wind.


Jun 3, 2012

Weymouth puts on Sail for Gold

With our final regatta before the Games due to start tomorrow, we are back in full racing mode, ready to test ourselves and our competition at the Olympic venue.

This is start of our final preparations for the Olympics, and we are hoping to build some momentum with some good races and a good result. The weather forecast is almost typical of Weymouth, with strong winds and great sailing predicted. The downside of living and sailing here is that there is also plenty of rain, cold water temperatures and more than a few clouds on their way here as well.

The regatta website should provide regular updates at www.skandiasailforgoldregatta.co.uk.

At this point is seems appropriate to thank the many people who have helped us out financially and otherwise throughout our campaign. We couldn't have spent as many days on the water and made it to many of the world cup events without help from the CST staff, coaches, our supporters and sponsors. As we continue to train over the coming weeks, we will continue to rely on this support to help us raise our game.

May 9, 2012

Canada is in for 2012

We managed to clear two hurdles on the final day of the qualifying series here at the worlds. We qualified for gold fleet, finishing 24th in the qualifying series, which earned us one of the five remaining country berths for the 2012 Games.

Also, we are the top Canadian boat, with the closest Canadian entry Jon Ladha and Daniel Inkpen finishing just outside gold fleet in 29th. It was a day of very close racing, with only a few points between us and the gold fleet cut off, and Jon and Dan sailing their best day yet to close to within five points of cut off themselves.

We'll continue to sail in gold fleet for the next three days, and move up as many positions as we can.


April 24, 2012

Worlds Training Camp

It's been a cold week for our lead up to the worlds. The weather hasn't been tropical, but I guess it is par for April in Europe, complete with plenty of April showers. We spent the last seven days sailing against the Austrian team of Nico and Niko, as well as the Finnish team, and getting our gear ready for the worlds in May. The location of the camp was in Torbole, Italy, at the north end of Lake Garda. The idea was to find a spot with reliable wind, and spend a lot of hours on the water.

Overall the camp was a success- we were able to sail every day. Our coach for the week Javier de la Plaza kept us on the water for two sessions most days. His motivation for training was full on, and we worked hard the whole time we were on the water. Throughout the week the program was sparing on short race courses, boat handling drills, and also some work on boat speed and equipment set up.

Our next move is to get oursevles to Zadar (by car) and get set up for training there. We'll have about a week of training there, and few days to get our equipment sorted out and measure in our boat. The first race of the worlds will start on May 7th.

January 28, 2012

Miami OCR 2012

We finished fourth in the medal race today, after a close two laps of racing in flukey winds. Our 4th place finish was actually one better than our overall result of 5th. We had an outside chance of passing Danes Allan Norregaard and Peter Lang in the overall results , but considering their seventeen point lead we focused more on being defensive.

All in all we seemed to be close to on form, although we have some work to do if we want to get on the podium at a World Cup event. We made our share of mistakes, especially on day four when we had an unfortunate OCS and 11th in consecutive races. The Danish boat was only 1 point ahead us up until then, but after that it was very tough to catch up to them or reach the podium.

Other parts of the regatta went well, especially the first two days when we won two races, coming from behind both times to take the lead in the final lap. Actually the top US team (Erick and Trevor) did beat us across the line in race five by a second or two, but they were scored OCS.

Day five of the event was the windiest day and probably the most fun. After a close race 13, where the top four crossed the line in a clump, race 14 was almost comical in that no one in the fleet saw where the race committee had moved the weather mark. The second upwind leg involved some reaching for almost everyone and there was quite a bit of passing.

We are continuing to train in Miami for the next 10 days or so. Most of the same boats from the top of the fleet will be training as well. This is a great chance to make the most of the 'pre-season' for everyone here, so I hope we'll work together somewhat.


January 23, 2012

2012 Season off to a Good Start

Our campaign had a brief hiatus for the first two weeks of 2012, following a disappointing result at the 2011 Worlds in December. We ended up 35th of 67 boats, which was further down the results than the 2010 Worlds or the 2010 Europeans.

Fortunately we have also had better results, and we are still training and competing to be one of the top boats at the 2012 Worlds and 2012 Olympics.

Our first event of the year is closer to home than most of them, the Miami Olympic Classes Regatta. Our first day of racing wasn't quite the full turnaround that would have been nice after the Worlds, but we did win the 2nd race of the event. Passing boats throughout the race was a great way to take a win.

The fleet here is small, only 23 boats, but there are quite a few teams with high world rankings, and almost a third of the fleet is from Europe or Scandinavia. The wind today was typical of Miami, with a moderate 8-12kt easterly wind in flat water in Biscayne Bay. Not surprisingly, the weather was also nice for January, with sunshine and a high of 25 degrees to go along with the breeze.

More updates and details as the regatta goes on. The event results for all classes can be found here.

November 21, 2011

Gearing up for the ISAF Worlds

Today was our first day on the water in Fremantle. It was good to finally be able to try out our new boat and the Fremantle conditions all at once. After a relatively mild week, this weekend and today the temperatures have been in the high twenties and thirties, apparently prompting the Fremantle Doctor to pay daily visits in the form of 15 and 20 knot winds every afternoon.
It was a bit of rough introduction for our new boat, but sailing in about 15 knots and the extremely short and steep waves was certainly good training and good fun for us. I don't know if the Doctor will continue to visit during training or during the event, but we'll be on the water for the next two weeks trying to get an idea of what we can expect during the event.

Racing for the 49ers starts on December 12th, although some of the other classes start as early as December 3rd. So far the most of the launching locations are still closed, and many of the 470, Finn, laser and 49er teams are all launching out the Fremantle Sailing Club. It's a bit chaotic on the way in and out, but so far there are no complaints about the sunshine and wind.

We'll be racing in the pre-worlds regatta, also the Australian Championships starting this Friday. There isn't likely to be much online coverage, but coverage for the worlds should be real time and detailed. The website for all classes is perth2011.com


September 26th, 2011

Fall Training Plans

With the summer season wrapped up in Europe, we are starting to train for our 2011 Worlds in December. Luckily ISAF has picked a windy location for the worlds in choosing Fremantle/Perth. Our best bet for sailing in windy conditions in North America is the bay area in California; We have just finished sailing an informal 49er North Americans in San Francisco, and we'll continue to train in the bay area and in Santa Cruz for the next three weeks. The summer thermal winds are not quite as strong this time of year, but so far there hasn't been a lack of wind or steep waves.

There are only a few boats out here training (relative to the huge fleets in Europe), but we're looking forward to training with the top US team of Erick Storck and Trevor Moore, as well as Finns Lauri Lehtinen and Kalle Bask. These teams have are both motivated and put in a lot of effort on the water and in planning their training. Also out here practicing are our Canadian teammates Jon Ladha and Daniel Inkpen, and Americans Johnny Goldsberry and Charlie Smyth.

Our plans are to train on the west coast until mid-October, and then fly to Perth in early November to sail on the worlds race courses for the weeks leading up the regatta.

For more daily updates please check out our blog section.

July 23rd, 2011

Check out our video:

Some footage from this spring in Hyeres, France:

Winding Up for the "International Regatta"

Our last event in Europe this summer will start on August 6th. Officially called the Weymouth and Portland International Regatta, the Olympic test event is a chance for the organizers to practice hosting the media, judges and of course competitors for two weeks of racing.

With only one boat per country, it will be a smaller event but competition will be tough at the top of the fleet. We start racing on August 9th, but the event starts with registration and measurement on August 7th. Until racing starts, we'll be training on the event race courses. Portland has become our 'second home', partly because it is impossible for both of us to be at home in Toronto and Vancouver and train, and partly because the conditions here are good. So far there are a few teams training on and off here, and more teams will be arriving as the event approaches.

As always with English weather, it is difficult to say what the conditions may be a week ahead of time. So far we've sailed in 30kts on the first weekend we got here, and just finished a light air tuning session in 0-5kts yesterday. I hope we'll be ready for whatever the weather brings for the second week in August.

There will be results up on the event website, or have a look at the WPNSA Webcam to check out the conditions live any time.

June 19th, 2011

Thin Margins at Sail for Gold


The 2011 Sail for Gold event was well attended this year, with 64 49ers racing and almost all of the top 25 ranked sailors battling it out. The winds were by and large good, with consistent westerly breezes that were anywhere from moderate to too strong to race throughout the week.

The regatta was trying for us, with a bad race on the first day, and an unfortunate (and messsy) collision sailing downwind on the second day that saw us thrown out of the fifth race of the qualifying series. While it was clear we had made crucial mistakes that cost us points, we were still very close to being in the top 25 for the final series. Unfortunately we didn't get a chance to race on the third day of the event. With winds averaging from 20 to 30 knots most of the afternoon, we stayed in 31st overall, just six points out of 25th at the end of qualifying.

It was very frustrating not to get a chance to catch up, but we did end up having some interesting races in the silver fleet for the rest of the event. The wind continued to be westerly, which is the prevailing wind. The westerlies run along the coast line of Southern England, but the causeway to Portland and Weymouth itself is south of our racing area and the wind was offshore and shifty during racing. We could see by the results that it was difficult to sail consistently in the gold fleet, while in our fleet the racing was up and down as well, with boats passing and being passed on every leg of the course. In the end we finished in 29th overall, 4th in the silver fleet. We were only 4 points behind Ryan Seaton of Ireland who had one or two more good races than we did.

Fortunately we will be racing in Weymouth again in August, for the Olympic test event with one 49er per country and up to 25 countries participating. It will certainly be a chance to learn about the race courses that may be used in 2012, as well as spend time racing against the some of the best teams.

In order to prepare for the test event and also to take advantage of the Wind Athletes Canada house in Portland, we'll be training in Weymouth for two weeks in July before the test event.


June 2nd, 2011

Holland is a cold (and windy) warm up for Sail for Gold

Last week we raced in the Delta Lloyd in Medemblik, the Netherlands. The fleet was slightly smaller than the one we're expecting for the Sail for Gold regatta in Weymouth, but it was good chance to sail around a full sized race course. With 39 boats sailing, the fleet was kept in a single group until the medal race on the last day.

Of the six days of the regatta, only one was sailed in light wind, and two days were actually too windy to race. The first day was one of the windier days, and we managed to end up tied for first place overall, (2nd after the tiebreaker) even though our best race was a 3rd. Although we capsized twice, most of the other boats in the top 10 seemed to be having more trouble than us. Our good result was also helped by the fact that past world champion Nathan Outteridge and five other boats found their way to a wrong mark in the first race, and were scored DSQ.

After racing three shifty light wind races, three more windy races and the medal race, we finished in 6th place overall, our best finish yet at a European event. It was great to be able to practice racing in windy conditions, although with a total of four capsizes in the regatta it seems like we could have scored better.

We're currently in Weymouth, getting our mast, sails and boat ready for another regatta. Sail for Gold will be an important event, with a large fleet and most teams trying to prove they're ready for the conditions that may show up again at the Olympics next year.

Last year the video and written coverage of the event was excellent, and this year the press should be better than ever. The event website is www.skandiasailforgoldregatta.co.uk. Racing starts on Monday, June 6th.


April 26th, 2011

A Tough Regatta in France

After three days of qualifying races, we've seen quite few different conditions in fickle Hyeres. On the first day of racing there was an easterly wind following on three days of easterly winds in the Mediterranean. The races in the afternoon were sailed in large rolling waves, with a few 20kt gusts making boat handling downwind difficult. On Monday the wind was still easterly, although the wind only picked up briefly in the middle of the day, making some of the racing a battle against left over waves from the weekend.

Today the wind was the lightest yet, with a westerly wind filling in late in the afternoon, and allowing the 49er fleet two shifty races for each qualifying fleet.

Our qualifying series got off to a bad start, with our spinnaker pole breaking in the 2nd race, and our jury rigged spinnaker pole breaking again just before the start of the third. Luckily we were able to borrow a pole from the US Storck/Moore team, who were nice enough to let us use their spare for the race. It was a rushed job rigging the replacement pole on the water, but we did manage to get to the starting line just as the starting gun went. Somehow the third race ended up being our best race of the day.

The rest of racing was also tough for us, although the boat has held together much better. With 67 boats registered, there were 34 boats in each qualifying fleet. With the 49ers short course racing style and the large number of boats, getting off the start line has been difficult, and recovering from bad starts has been almost impossible. With only one good start on Monday, we had only one top ten finish (an 8th) in the last race of the day.

Today we had better consistency, although we still found that our results were dominated by our starts. With two starts that allowed us to get to the favoured side of the course fairly early, we were able to score two mediocre 14th place finishes. Our position at the end of qualifying is 37th, well off the top 25 finish needed to race in the gold fleet.

Going into the final series tomorrow, we'll be racing with about 43 boats on the starting line in the silver fleet. In some ways the racing will be more difficult than in the gold fleet due to the crowded race course; we'll be working on pushing harder off the starting line and improving our big fleet skills. It is disappointing not be trying to move into the top 10, and instead aiming for 26th overall, but it will be interesting racing. The weather seems to have cleared up, so we may at least be enjoying sailing under clear skies on the Mediterranean.

April 16th, 2011

Some Salt Water Sailing in the UK

We've officially begun our spring warm up, and have been in Weymouth, UK since April 6th. While the water in Ontario and most of Canada is freezing, here it's at least a few degrees above zero.

We spent our first week here training with Kevin Jewett and Mike Kushner who are sailing for the US. They are just starting their first season in the 49er, and are trying to get as many hours as possible on the water to make the jump and get up to speed. It's great to work with a team with a good attitude and good 'sailing ethic'.

Most 49er teams are either in Palma, Majorca, or already in Hyeres, France getting ready for the next World Cup event. We'll be driving down to France this week and are looking forward to sailing with a bigger training group. Last week we were working on boat-handling and general sailing. We were able to sail one day outside the break wall in the steep English Channel waves. The waves in Weymouth can be tough, with decent size waves getting bigger as they get near the sloping beach. Although we only had one day sail with the swell, it was good to get some practice in the some the steeper waves.

Racing in France will start on April 24th. The organizers will provide some coverage at http://sof.ffvoile.net, and we'll have some updates here as the regatta gets going.


February 26th, 2011

Florida Boot Camp



The team has set up two intense training camps this winter in Miami and Clearwater, Florida. The first one just concluded this week, we had Olympian Chris Rast giving us a lot of advice on our on the water starting skills and off the water strategy for preparing for events.


For the on the water section of the camp, we probably practiced more starts than in all our other training combined. It was great to be able to focus on a particular skill and to see a noticeable improvement in our sailing day to day. With a few months to go before our next regatta we'll also have some time to work on other skills before we're on the course again.

Next week we'll again be sailing with our Canadian teammates Billy and Ian, and will be coached by RCYC/ CYA coach Dan Cunningham. The conditions in Clearwater should be slightly windier than in balmy Miami, and there may be some larger waves on the gulf coast. Sailing in bigger waves and choppy water will be practice for the Worlds in Fremantle, where the waves are a major issue for all the classes racing in the shallow water off the beaches.

Following the Clearwater camp, we'll be taking most of March off to fundraise and prepare for the spring season in Europe. We'll be training in Weymouth UK in April, and start racing in Hyeres, France around April 23rd.

Thanks to Wind Althletes Canada for their help in setting up the camp. So far their help with coaching has made a big difference, keeping us on the water and working high calibre coaches.


January 29th, 2011

Up and Down for the Medal Race

Up and Down for the Medal Race Going in to the medal race today, we were tied for fifth with the Croatians, with our teammates Billy Gooderham and Ian Hogan only two points ahead in fourth. The British boats managed to hang onto the top three spots, with only a few bad races in the regatta, they were untouchable for the rest of the top ten boats.

Like the fifteen races that led into the medal race, the conditions for the last race were gusty and shifty. It was a tough battle for fourth place, with no clear favourite and lots of opportunities to pass boats in shifts and gusts. Fortunately for us, we managed to get one of the best starts in the fleet and rounded the first weather mark in first place. After that we were able to stay ahead of the Croatians and Billy and Ian, although a big shift and a good move by the Croatians put them even with us at the last mark. It was a tense last few minutes of the race working to pass them again.

Having a good medal race meant we finished the regatta in fourth overall, five spots better than last year. It feels good to improve our position, although the results show that the boats in the top ten didn't finish far behind.

We'll be continuing to train here in Miami in February and into early March. It's easy getting on the water here, and we should be able to work on our boathandling and speed before we head to Europe for the spring season.


January 24th, 2011

Miami OCR Off to a Gusty Start

Today was the first day of racing on Biscayne Bay and the Miami Olympic Classes Regatta. There is a large 49er fleet, with 28 boats racing. The wind was medium in strength, although there were quite a few shifts and gusts and plenty of passing lanes all the way around the course.

Most of the teams are from North America, although there are three UK teams, a Croatian and a Greek team fighting it out. The British put in a good day of sailing, and have narrowly secured the top three spots. After a 3rd, a 2nd and a lacklustre 9th place finish we're currently in 5th overall.

If the wind and weather hold up, the next five days should be good sailing and good racing.

The results are available at rmocr.ussailing.org/2011/Results.htm. We're looking forward to racing in some windier conditions tomorrow.

December 18th, 2010

Canadian Athletes Now Fund Holiday Fundraising Drive

The Canadian Athletes Now Fund is a charity which makes a big difference for Canadian athletes. This year one of us was fortunate enough to receive help from the fund, and as a result the end of season training in Perth was much more affordable. The Canadian Athletes Now Fund channels money directly to athletes, so it is efficient and funds can be put to use right away. We are very grateful for the help.

This summer the fund announced it has supported over 200 Canadian summer sports athletes, with each athlete receiving $6000. The Holiday Fundraising Drive is going to be used to fund athletes in 2011, the year leading up to the summer Olympics. If you want to help out athletes in sailing, or Canadian athletes in general, the 'CAN Fund' is a great place to make a donation. To see information on the fundraising drive and the Fund please go to the Holiday Fundraising Drive Page



December 10th, 2010

Back to the Frozen North

The training in Fremantle was wound down on December 1st. The sailing was not at all what we expected from the west coast of Australia, but it certainly was great place to sail. With shallow beaches close to most of the courses, the waves built up quickly and the chop was large enough to pitch pole the boat when there was as little as 12 knots of wind.

It would be interesting to sail on some of the big Southern Ocean waves. On our day off we saw some large waves 10 miles or so offshore, on the other side of Rotnest Island. Fortunately for our mast, the shoals and islands off the coast seem to stop the waves, and there wasn't much sign of swell on the courses we raced on.

While we may not have to deal with 20ft waves, we have figured out a few things to work on to prepare for the Worlds next December. We'll be back training in the New Year in Miami, and will have plenty of days on the water to work on specific skills. Our next regatta will be the Rolex Miami OCR (Jan 23 -29).

November 20th, 2010

The Real Fremantle

It's been a trying 4 days of racing for us here. After training in mast breaking 25 knot winds, the wind moderated through the regatta, going from some windy races on the first day, to shifty dying winds on the second day, and no racing at all on the third.

Today was the fourth day of racing, (and the only day of finals), we managed to get in one race in a nice 8 knots, but the wind became very flukey for the second. It seems as though Perth is a great place for the Worlds next year, although it may be a test of all around 49er sailing skills, rather than the one of the windiest regattas ever.

On the race course there have been plenty of close finishes and lead changes in the shiftier of the races. Although there are two fleets, many of the boats here are capable of finsishing regattas in the top 10, and everyone has been sailing hard on every leg of the course.

Our results have been up and down through out the event. During the first day of racing, we seemed to improve our boat speed as they day went on, and finshed 15th, 7th and then 2nd. On the second day we had a 10th, 7th, and then another 10th in a light air drifter of a race. Those results were enough to put us above the 17th place cut for gold fleet, but with only two races today and an 8th and a deep 15th place finish we're still at the back of gold fleet today. There's only one race left in the regatta, which is disappointing after missing a day of racing. We'll be training for the next week after the regatta though, so there's still plenty of time to get used to tricky offshore winds and the 'fresh' sea breezes here.

November 10th, 2010

Perth International Regatta

We've finally arrived in Fremantle to get ready to the Perth International Regatta, and check out the venue for the 2011 ISAF worlds next December. We may have to wait a few days for the sunshine and the famous Fremantle 'Doctor' to come for a visit, but we have our boats out of the container and are able to sail everyday.

The conditions here are rough. The water off the coast is quite shallow, so the waves get steep very quickly. Today there was moderate on shore wind, but we came close to pitchpoleing the boat several times.

There are about thirty 49ers here training. While this fleet is much smaller than the fleets we raced with in Europe, all the best teams are here, and I'm sure it will be close racing for the podium next week.

With this update I would like to give a huge thank you to the Canadian Athletes Now Fund. This is the end of the sailing season, and it is very likely that without help from the Fund and the companies that keep it going we'd be stuck going to the gym and waiting for warmer weather back in Toronto and Vancouver.

I hope will have more to write about Fremantle over the next three weeks. The racing will start on November 16th and we'll keep training and getting used to the conditions here for for a week after the event.

More news items from 2010..