The 49er class is continuing to support newcomers to the class (and anyone else who wants a refresher course) by providing free coaching clinics prior to major championships. The latest one took place just before the European Championships in Gdynia, Poland and the class secured the services of experienced GBR 49er coach Richard Parslow. The regatta co-organizers (Polish Yachting Association and Gdynia Sport and Recreation Centre) provided a RIB and a large briefing room with video projector.
The sailors were from Holland, Malta, Russia and Bermuda. All completed brief skills and goal-setting questionnaires to determine the level of training required and the areas to be covered. On the first day, everyone introduced themselves and said what they were hoping to get out of the clinic. Richard confirmed the level of commitment required to win in the idiosyncratic, demanding and highly competitive 49er and outlined the key elements for a successful campaign: “it’s not just about going sailing!”
All of the teams worked together really well and shared information about rig set-up, tuning and technique.
Due to the prevalent wind pattern one long on-the-water session was held each day. At briefings the squad agreed the main focus points for the day, then Richard described the specific exercises and relevant signals for each. The main on-the-water focus areas were starting, rig set-up and boathandling.
The winds were generally lightish and quite patchy, with some big swings and shifts. No good for speed work, but fine for some short-course racing and boathandling drills! It was also a good opportunity to practise subtle gear changes in response to small changes in windspeed.
Video feedback allowed the sailors to watch themselves starting, sailing and going through manoeuvres. It also gave them a chance to see their rigs from behind and do direct comparisons with others’ rigs – and the effects of when changing different controls. There were also some lively discussions about decision-making, the rules and regatta process.
All the sailors had a great time and took away a few things that they could put into practice straight away for the European Championship itself. They also gained a framework for their campaigns and learned some techniques for their future training.
“The 49er mini camp is a good training-stage for starting teams in the 49er class. In our first year of sailing the 49er, this has been the most efficient 3 days of training we had so far. Coach is very skilled, experienced and enthusiastic. Because of this 3-day minicamp we feel well prepared to start the Europeans and are looking forward to it!”
Joris van der Ven, Netherlands
“Thanks for the coaching, really useful for us! The video briefs and debriefs were really useful and definitely improved our starting.”
Seb Ripard, Malta
“The insights in the boat and how to put together a world class campaign are priceless.”
Zander Kirkland, Bermuda
Richard Parslow enjoyed it too and passed on the squad’s appreciation to Seiko for their generous support for the clinic; and to Jerelyn Biehl and Marcus Spillane for coordinating it for the 49er Class Association.