We had a great week of training in Cascais, Portugal with the Singaporean team Kimmy Lim and Cecilia Low. Just outside Lisbon, Cascais is the most southwestern tip of Europe on the Atlantic Ocean, or in other words, we were as close to home as possible on the European Continent.
The focus of this camp was boat-handling on very short racecourses. Often times I would set the kite, douse it immediately, then we would do a 360-degree turn around a mark, and re-set the kite again. As our coach Giulia says, “it is us against the boat” in these gut-busting drills. In the 49erFX, so much distance on the racecourse can be gained or lost in the maneuvers that we spend a majority of our time perfecting the most basic things, like tacks and gybes. These drills were designed to push my limits physically, and Steph’s limits mentally. My job is to pull as hard as I can, and Steph has to drive the boat on a course that makes my life easier. Happy crew, happy boat!
This training also tested physical fitness and stamina. For example, my heart rate one day reached 194 bpm during a short course drill, and was above 180 bpm for 15 minutes of the 90 minute session. Fortunately, as the week progressed, our skills did too and we executed the maneuvers at a higher percentage despite the cumulative fatigue. This means we are getting stronger and our time in the gym is paying off!
The conditions in Cascais were particularly challenging because the strong, predominant wind came from the shore, so it was gusty and very shifty. Sometimes the wind would go from 5 knots to 15 knots in a single puff, and shift 30 degrees. Needless to say, we did some swimming. But it was a great chance to work on anticipation of velocity changes and smooth transitions, even if that is all just guesswork.
We sailed against Kimmy Lim and Cecilia Low from Singapore. Their coach, Fernando Quo, generously coached both teams throughout the week. We enjoyed a great dynamic on the water pushing (and encouraging!) each other through six tough days. We are also so grateful for the girls’ generosity off the water as well, lending us a boat, sails and all their equipment. Cacais was a great venue and we are grateful for the solid training.
Next up is a technical training camp in San Francisco with the US Sailing Team. We are really excited to learn about the new technology developments from the USST and our supporting sponsors, and for the chance to be together as a team.