Our winter training shenanigans!
Less than 2 weeks after the World Championships, held in late September had finished, we were back to training again. Having only teamed up together a few weeks before the Worlds we knew that time was something we could not afford to throw away! We decided that Portland Harbour in the UK was probably the most skiff friendly venue, that was fairly close to home and also not too chilly in October/November time (by not too chilly we mean it was still cold, just not going to kill us)! All set up in Portland we began our training by going back to basics…tacking, gybing and bearing away. It all sounds fairly straightforward but add winds of over 30 knots and its far from simple! We spent 6 weeks in total training in the UK and in that time probably around 70% was done in 15-30+ knots. We had a fair few comedy moments, for example we would be happily sailing along and then next thing we know we are both flying through the air…or the time we were being trawled along in the water on our wires by our out of control boat, having the conversation, “how do we get out of this?”. We also had some moments when we thought we were actually going to die! Despite all of this we somehow managed to survive with help from expert sailor, coach and 49erFX rescue provider Ian Barker. Ian pushed us and our sailing and sometimes he pushed our boat down the slipway, so we had no choice but to go sailing in 30+ knots! The training was really productive and we put in as many hours on the water as the weather and day light hours would permit. It got us both working as a team and sailing the boat not only more confidently but also more competently.
As the British weather started to take a turn for the worse we quickly made plans and escaped to Cagliari in Sardinia at the beginning of December. It was like going back in time as we boarded the ferry from Genoa in Italy to Porto Torres in Sardinia. Fortunately the ferry, which looked like it hadn’t been redecorated since the 70’s, was an overnight crossing so we didn’t have to spend too much time in the salmon pink decor under the soft focus lighting! We are very grateful to the Italian Team of Giulia Conti, Francesca Clapcich and their Coach Gianfranco Siebello, who invited us to join them for their winter training camps along with Kate MacGregor and Katrina Best from Britain. We were also warmly welcomed by the Yacht Club staff, members and the Cagliari locals. Before these camps, we had never trained alongside any other FX’s before…something which had made racing at the Worlds somewhat stressful! We were on a very steep learning curve, trying to keep up with the Italians and British in training whilst also trying not to run into them!! Then mid way through December our newly appointed coach Bunny Warren arrived and we started to climb that steep learning curve! For us the training has been intense and extremely hard but we could not ask for a better set up than in Sardinia. We have had a mix of conditions from flat water to big waves and a variety of wind strengths, sometimes all in one day! The gym facilities are also fantastic and that has meant we have been able to continue working on our fitness programmes alongside our sailing. We still have one more camp in Sardinia in February before we head out to Palma for a few weeks training and then the first World Cup event of the season! We are both looking forward to getting back out racing again!
Andrea & Saskia