Roble/Shea
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10th at Ready Steady Tokyo - Olympic Test Event, by Steph
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After 40 hours of travel from Paracas, Peru, we finally arrived in Enoshima for the Ready Steady Tokyo Olympic Test Event. With an incoming typhoon set to interrupt our precious 3 days of lead-up before the regatta, we rallied hard to get the boat rigged for a short sail during our only window of sailable conditions, which helped us overcome the 14 hours jet lag. We then had to do a full de-rig for measurement on day 2, followed again by a full re-rig & check over of systems before the storm hit. Adding in extreme 105-degree heat with 90% humidity, the first two days on the ground were a bit intense! On day 3 we focused on getting our feet on the ground, settling into our housing and catching up on sleep!

The Test Event is the dress rehearsal for the Olympics. All US Sailing Team staff, official measurers and race committee are in attendance, and the fleet is Olympic Games size, with one representative from each country. It is an amazing opportunity to get a feel for how everything will be set up at the Games and learn as much as possible about the venue and logistics so we can come best prepared for next year! 

Day 1 was a bit of a shock to our systems - massive waves leftover from the typhoon and 14-16 knots of southerly breeze. Our technique in these conditions was certainly rusty and it showed in our results. However, we were proud that we fought hard to get better with each race. This boat is very unforgiving and when you aren’t sharp mentally, simple mistakes become very costly. 

I am really proud of our resilience during this event. Some teams would continue to go down hill after a tough opening day. But we focused on resetting and showed up for day 2 ready for a comeback challenge. The next two days we sailed beautifully by focusing on the process and ultimately earning 5 top 10 finishes in 6 races. From day 1 to the end of day 3, we climbed 10 places overall in a variety of conditions!

One of my favorite moments from day 3 was on the first beat we were leading the race by about 10 seconds. After the final tack to the first mark, I put the tiller on the edge of the wing for a transition and it BROKE! We rounded in first place with only half a tiller extension. It was such an odd situation that had never happened to us before. I quickly tried to tape the tiller together, but that wasn’t going to work so we set the kite and sailed on starboard gybe. I had to sit halfway in the boat driving with half a (broken) tiller so we could discuss our game plan to swap it out for the spare on the boom. Once we gybed on laying for the gates, I took the spin sheet from Maggie and she went in the boat to swap out the leeward tiller like a ninja! Through all this drama we only lost 1 boat and finished the race in a proud 2nd!

The final day of fleet racing we struggled a bit to make good game plans. Luckily, the speed we had worked really hard on all summer kept us alive & in the game for 3 low teen finishes and a ticket to the medal race. The medal race was a light air race with swell. Unfortunately I set us up too close to the line with the current and we had to bail out at 30 seconds to start on port and avoid an OCS. This sent us to the unfavored right side of the course. With very few passing lanes on a short course we gave it our all to finish the medal race in 8th. 

We are so excited about and proud of our team work and speed during this event. We picked each other up and learned so much during tough times and built on momentum during the good times. We are learning so much about ourselves, team work and execution around the course. These are the things that shape our team and make us stronger and stronger for the future!

-Steph

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Stephanie Roble
Silver Medal at the Pan American Games, by Maggie
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We are so proud to bring home a silver medal from the Pan Am Games and qualify the USA for a 49erFX berth at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Now we can shift our focus to the US Trials.

The Pan Am Games was an incredible experience in many ways. As the North American qualifier for a country berth at the Olympics, we felt a lot of pressure to perform. This past year, we focused heavily on the psychology of competition and our ability to cope with the stress of high level events, and we’ve made massive improvements in our mental toughness and resilience. We are feeling stronger than ever. Also the venue and athlete village were designed to mimic the Olympics, and it was great to feel the intensity of that atmosphere. The Pan Am Games, just like the Olympics, is governed by uniquely strict rules. For example, we had to adapt to unusual regulations about what clothing was permitted onsite, what content we could post on Facebook and meticulous coaching/equipment regulations.

The 49erFX fleet was small but tough, and the field included the 2016 Olympic Gold Medalist and our training partners, the Argentinians. With so few teams, it was hard to put points on our opponents, so we had to do a lot of match racing in the later races. 

Going into the Medal Race, Brazil had locked down the Gold Medal, so the final (double point) race would determine Silver and Bronze positions. With a four point lead on Argentina, they could only pass us if we finished last and they finished first. We started the Medal Race well, and we rounded the first mark in first place. However, on the downwind leg, the breeze became very unstable so we chose to sail conservatively and focus on staying ahead of the fleet. We lost one boat on the second leg, and rounded the bottom mark in second place. 

The wind became even more random and puffy on the third leg, and the race devolved into an awkward match race among three boats - us, Argentina and Canada. With several extra maneuvers to cover Canada and Argentina, we lost some ground on Brazil and Peru. We rounded the last top mark in third place, but it quickly became anyone’s game on the final run to the finish line. All five boats gybe-set at the windward mark, and slowly drifted on port toward the most promising line of wind. 

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Canada was solidly behind Argentina, so they decided to gybe halfway down the run. Argentina covered Canada to protect their bronze medal position. With two boats splitting one way and three the other, the breeze totally died and we nervously decided to make a conservative play of covering just one boat to lock down our Silver Medal. Peru was an easy target on the final leg, so we stuck with them on the right side of the course. The breeze totally died in our corner of the course, and we had a few nervous moments. Argentina won the medal race on the last downwind, and took home the Bronze Medal. We had mixed feelings about our Medal Race strategy, but we did what we needed to in order to lock down the Silver Medal.  

We are so proud of how we handled the stress of this major event, continually improved our speed throughout the week and walked away with great lessons that we can apply to the Olympics. We couldn’t have achieved this major milestone without your generous support. Thank you so much for making this possible.

You can replay races on the live GPS tracker here and see full 49erFX results here.

In total, the US brought home seven medals in eleven classes; read more about our teammates here.

-Maggie

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Maggie Shea
49erFX Olympic Trial Selection for Tokyo 2020

New Olympic trials system embodies recent culture shift within the US Sailing Team — raising the bar and shifting the focus to being the best in the world. Read more about the entire US Team selection here.

 

The Olympic Sailing Committee sets forth the trials system that will determine which fifteen athletes who will represent Team USA at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. The multi-stage Olympic Trials is designed to reward teams that finish on the podium at major international events.

First step: qualify the USA for a country berth at the Olympics. North America’s continental qualifier will be the Pan-American Games in Paracas, Peru July 26- Aug 11, 2019. In the 49erFX class, there will be 21 country berths allocated to the highest placing countries at the following events:

  • 2018 World Championships (8)

  • 2019 World Championships (6)

  • Continental Qualifiers (6) 

  • Host country- Japan (1)

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Second step: Win the US Trials.

  1. First chance - accumulate seven or less points (based on overall finishes) at one of two events in Japan this summer plus the 2019 World Championship. The two events in Japan include the Olympic Test Event, Aug 15-22, and the Japan World Cup Series, Aug 25- Sept 1. The 2019 World Championship will be sailed in Auckland, New Zealand Nov 29 - Dec 8, 2019. In other words, the only American team to have seven or less cumulative points, e.g. finishing 2nd & 5th overall, at one of the events in Japan and the 2019 Worlds wins the US Trials.

  2. Second chance - the US team with the lowest combined score of overall finishes at the 2019 World Championship in NZL and the 2020 World Championship in Melbourne, AUS Feb 9-15, 2020.

As sailors, we have been motivated by the pressure to compare ourselves to the best in the world instead of focusing on the smaller, domestic fleet. We appreciate this outward focus because we understand it is necessary to reach the podium in 2020 and 2024. The higher the standards, the harder we push! 

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Maggie Shea
Training in the Olympic Venue

We spent the first block of the training focusing on speed. We were lucky enough to have Dave Ullman join us to provide some fresh insight and ideas for our speed and sail set up. July is the rainy season in Japan.  A low front parks over the country for several weeks, which brought mostly an offshore breeze and light rain ALL day. Over our entire two and a half weeks there, we only had two days of sunshine. Luckily, the offshore breeze provided the perfect opportunity to work on our transitions and adjustments with controls, sail trim and moding. 

Since Enoshima is on the southern coast, it has thousands of miles of open ocean to the south. This creates a constant ground swell. On one of our training days, we were greeted with really big onshore swell from an overnight storm with a eight to 16 knot offshore breeze, which made for very unique conditions. The apparent wind was all over the place, and boat balance upwind and downwind was incredibly challenging. We were really proud of how we improved throughout the day in conditions we rarely see!

We spent the last four days racing a coach’s regatta with 18 teams. The racing was awesome, with three out of four days spent in offshore breeze and (of course) rain. We focused on executing what we learned about our speed & moding in the previous training days in a racing environment, and are really happy with our progress. Our starts are truly a weapon for us with our average score being a four out of five. This means we can start wherever we want in order to execute our game plan. Dave also provided some great input on our approach to racing and how to make more confident game plans. Everything we learned in this training regatta gives us a lot of confidence going into all of the racing in August. 

Our schedule in August is a bit crazy with the Pan-Am Games in Peru followed immediately by the Olympic Test Event and a World Cup Event in Japan. We were really happy to get this time in Japan. Not only did we learn more about the venue, on and off the water, but we were able to set up everything. When we come back in a few weeks, everything will be plug and play. The August events also start our Olympic Trials, so we made our final selection for equipment after looking at two different masts (racing & spare) and checking out our racing sails. We were really grateful to have Dave there to be a part of this process with us! 

This trip was a big reminder for us about the importance of our team and how this journey is impossible without the right people by our sides. We had a fun, productive, and open environment with Dave and Giulia, who are absolutely amazing coaches! The logistics of this trip also would not have been possible without the help and hospitality from Kyomi Coward and Scott Weiler who live in the area and have become our Japan parents. They went above and beyond to house us, coordinate airport trips, and make sure we were settled into such a foreign place.

Finally, we cannot do this without our title sponsor Kilroy Realty and all of the support from the US Sailing Team, Lake Beulah Yacht Club, Chicago YC, Inland Lake Yachting Association, Chicago Match Race Center and all of our donors. This is a really exciting time in our campaign and we are so proud to represent all of you. We hope you will join us and follow along for this exciting month ahead!

Go USA! 

Steph & Maggie

Stephanie Roble
Good Times in Garda, by Steph
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After 3 big regattas in Europe this spring, we were excited to get back to summer training to work on the things we learned and weaknesses in our game. For our June training block we went to beautiful Lake Garda, Italy. 

The conditions in Garda are awesome - the Lake runs North/South and in the morning there is usually a strong northerly (Vento) and then it dies around noon and fills from the south (Ora) with a breeze ranging from 12-22 knots. Because of this we were able to get in a lot of double sessions - 8 AM launch, pasta lunch(yum!) and then training again at 130. We were really excited to spend a lot of time in conditions we call “always overpowered” because we have some speed gains to be made. 

Our coach Giulia organized a 4 day “Coach Regatta” in the beginning which attracted 11 teams and an opportunity to practice race execution in more of a training environment. It was an awesome event with tricky lake shifts and windy racing. We were second overall to our Argentinian training partners. 

A big tool a team can have is to start on port tack when it is windy and you want to go to the right side of the course. Since last year, our starts have become a big strength for us but we have started on port only a handful of times in racing. So with a lot of teams on the line, we used this opportunity to learn more about executing these starts. It was fun because everything was opposite and felt so awkward at first, like brushing your teeth or writing with your opposite hand. But we made huge improvements with these starts over the training and are excited to bust it out if we have the opportunity in racing. 

We also focused a lot on locking into our boat speed faster after the start and out of maneuvers. We feel like this is always an area to gain and so Giulia organized drills like the cone drill (coach boat engine is moving windward mark) and corridor drill (tacking between coach boats). With a lot of boats you can easily see who is gaining best out of maneuvers but since you are racing the whole time, it combines the elements of communication, tactics and boat handling execution. So much fun!! 

We talked a lot about how we can refine what we say around the race course to become more efficient and clearer with communication in racing. With Maggie trimming the mainsheet and Steph holding the tiller it is important that our communication is solid so we can have the best modes and VMG around the course while balancing all of the other elements. 

The environment we create for training and racing is really important and we want to enjoy the process and journey on and off the water. Wo we aim to have an open learning environment so we can grow and be better than the day before. Off the water we had a great dynamic with Vicky and Sol from Argentina because we shared an apartment & cooking responsibilities. We pushed each other to the max on the water and then came together as a team to learn as much as possible and also laugh about any ridiculous moments on the water. 

This positive environment makes a huge impact on how we approach each day in order to get the most out of ourselves, our teammates/training partners and coach. We are so grateful we had the opportunity to train in such an epic place with great people. The goal was to put a ton of hours on the water and we left Garda absolutely exhausted and full of new knowledge. We are now at home to recharge our batteries and on the 30th we will head to Japan for our July training block! 

Stephanie Roble
Our first World Cup Series Medals - Bronze in GenoA, by Steph
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After Palma, we packed up shop and sent our stuff to Genoa, Italy for the 3rd stop of the 2019 Hempel World Cup Series. With only a week off between the events it was critical that we focused on recovery - physically and mentally!


When we showed up to Genoa, the forecast was very light for the next 10 days. We knew the event was going to test our patience, mental stamina and air squats! 


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Racing started on a Monday and we completed 2 light sea breeze races. We started off with a bang, literally, by winning the first race! This definitely set the pace for the week and reminded us of our speed advantage in light air. 


Tuesday & Wednesday we waited around all day for racing and nothing happened. Two days of postponement was mentally draining. You have to be ready to go at any time but not anxious. Maggie likes to do boat work projects in postponement and Steph likes to read and hang with friends. 


With time ticking and a sad forecast, we knew every race was going to count a lot. Thursday we managed to get in 3 races. Our goal for the day was to put ourselves in a position to sail big lanes and be in control of the fleet. We posted 3 top ten finishes this day and learned some tough lessons about how to approach the finish line.


Thursday’s 3 races ended the qualifying series and we split into gold and silver for 4 races on Friday. This is a big day and our goal was to focus on one maneuver at a time and execute the simple things well. Again focusing on big lanes and locking into good speed off the line. We sailed 3 top ten races and our throwout race in the 20s. 


This consistent series put us in 5th overall going into the medal race on Saturday for double points. The points situation was complicated and we knew that if we targeted to win the race we could have a good chance of moving up overall. The breeze was shifting around a ton in the warm up along with the bias of the starting line. We set ourselves up at the favored RC boat for about 10 min to protect our spot so that we could tack out early to the right. 


At the first windward mark we were in 2nd and kept that position all the way thru the race. When we finished we excitedly waited to see how the other teams finished to see how we ended up overall. The stars aligned and we ended up clinching the bronze medal!! That was our first World Cup Series medal as a team and it means so much to us.


On the tow in after the medal race I had some happy tears as I looked around to the beautiful sailing area and reflected on the awesome team work between Maggie, Giulia and myself that led us to this proud moment. I thought about all of those in our support network who make moments like that possible and we strive to make you all proud every day.


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Stephanie Roble
Palma - when things don't go according to the plan, by Maggie

Princess Sofia Trophy, sailed on the notorious waters of Palma de Mallorca, Spain, was the second regatta of a two-event qualifying trials for major regattas later this summer. Going into Palma, we had a commanding eight-point lead over the next American team from WCS Miami. We finished the Princess Sofia Trophy in 16th overall, three places behind the top American team. While we were disappointed by our performance, we still managed to qualify for the one berth to represent Team USA at the Pan Am Games and the USST at the Olympic Test Event. 

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From a big-picture, overall campaign perspective, the Princess Sofia Trophy was designed to put pressure on our team to perform. We hoped the two-event trials system would imitate the intensity of the Olympic Trials later this year. We expected to sail in challenging, Palma-like conditions - huge waves and strong wind. So this past season, we traveled to Australia and Argentina to find some gnar, and we are totally capable of winning races in it. However, we didn’t anticipate the stress we felt from the pressure to perform in a trials series. Our unforced errors resulted from of our mental state more than anything else. Looking back, we’re glad we experienced this anxiety and nervousness because now it’s a familiar feeling we can conquer.

We sailed a strong qualifying series in the beginning of the week, with only two finishes outside the top ten and an average race score of sixth. Then our scoreline took a turn for the worse after we qualified for Gold Fleet. We only managed to finish in the top ten twice, and we lost several points making uncharacteristic mistakes, like capsizing. However even in our toughest races when we were deep in the back of the fleet, we fought tooth and nail for every point as we clawed back. We leaned into the challenge. We proved to ourselves, that in the face of adversity - like pitch-poling violently or crashing and damaging our wing - we are strong enough to rise to the occasion

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We’re not happy with a sixteenth place finish, but our dissatisfaction will fuel our hunger to improve. We debriefed, diagnosed and made plan of attack to move forward. All we can do is learn from the experience and keep pushing.  


In the future, we will draw strength from the races we felt physically exhausted and mentally devastated. We learned a lot about ourselves as sailors and came together, stronger than ever, as a team. The fire in our belly has never burned so hard. We’re hungry for the next challenge.


Thank you to all the supporters who reached out or followed scores. When we have bad races, we are embarrassed, disappointed in ourselves and afraid to let you down. On those days, your words mean the world to us. Now let’s all pound our chests and look forward to the next race. Onwards and upwards! 

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Maggie Shea
8-point lead in the Pan-American Games Trials

HWCS Miami was the first event in a two-regatta trials for the Pan-American Games, and we currently lead the next American team (Paris Henken and Anna Tunnicliffe Tobias) by eight points. The American team with the lowest combined score from the events in Miami and Palma will represent Team USA at the Pan-Am Games. The sailing events will take place in Paracas, Peru on August 3-10, 2019. We look forward to defending our lead in Palma de Mallorca, Spain next week. 

The Pan-American Games will be the North American continental qualifier for the Olympics, which means the top placing North American country will earn a berth (for the country, not the individual sailors) at the Olympics.  Read more about the Pan-Am Games Selection process and event here

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Stephanie Roble
Qualified for the 2019 US Sailing Team 

With our top ten finish in Miami, we are are honored and excited to qualify for the 2019 US Sailing Team (USST). The USST has become an immensely supportive network of coaches, managers and friends whom we admire and learn from constantly. We are so grateful to have the team behind us as we enter this next critical stage of our campaign. More will come soon about the official team, but you can read about the other athletes who qualified here.

2018 US Sailng Team at the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center

2018 US Sailng Team at the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center

Stephanie Roble
Silver Medals at the Skiff Midwinters

The Skiff Midwinters was a tune-up for the Hempel World Cup Series Miami, and it featured all the big players. We had a variety of conditions over the weekend, including a gnarly, 25-knot, offshore breeze. One of our primary goals this fall was to improve our fitness and boat-handling in windy conditions, so we were happy to come away with top-five finishes in the big breeze. Click here to view results.

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Stephanie Roble
World Cup Series Miami - Strong Start to the 2019 Regatta Season 

We finished the Hempel World Cup Series Miami ninth overall in a field of thirty-six teams, and met our goal to finish as the top American in the top ten. We had some shining moments, but we feel motivated by some of our mistakes that cost us places on the leaderboard. HWCS Miami is the second regatta of a four-part series, and it featured nearly all of the teams that are currently ranked in the top twenty worldwide. Our training has been rigorous over the last few months, and this was a great opportunity to showcase our skills.

We sailed in light and unstable breeze - typical Miami conditions that favor consistency and patience. In general our starts, boat-speed and boat-handling were all strong, but we made a handful of strategic errors that cost us critical points on the leaderboard. Since the event, we have focused heavily on developing tactical formulas and identifying racing priorities in order to simplify the moments of uncertainty so we can make better decisions on the racecourse.

Throughout the week, we were scored as high as third place and as low as thirteenth in the standings.The last day of the opening series, from which only the top ten teams qualify to compete in the medal race, was dramatic and stressful. After a three-hour postponement on the water, we posted two deep finishes and slipped all the way down to thirteenth overall. Thankfully, we managed to pull off a great final race of the opening series and bounce back to ninth place, which qualified us for the medal race. With double points on the table for the final race of the regatta, our primary objective was to keep the tenth place team behind us as moving up to eighth was just out of reach. The medal race was sailed in shifty 4-6 knot breeze. We’re happy report that we executed our plan well, and finished the regatta on a strong note! Click here to view the full results and replay the Medal Race (scroll to 21:00 minutes). 

"It was super exciting to wear the red bibs* early in the week. However, the most valuable learning moments came from bouncing back mentally after some tough races in the second half of the week.” -Steph Roble
*Red bibs are worn by the 3rd place team

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Stephanie Roble
World’s Mid-event Update: Qualified for Gold Fleet!

At the half way point of the regatta, we met our first goal of qualifying for the Gold Fleet and we live to fight another day! We are steadily clawing back from a couple rough races on the first day, and we currently sit in 28th/60 boats, merely 22 pts from the top ten. The Qualifying Series ended today, so the fleet has been divided into Gold (top half) and Silver Fleets for six more races before the Medal Race (top ten).

Our primary goal here in Aarhus is to secure one of the 20 country berths for the USA at the Tokyo Olympic Games, which means finishing in the top eight countries. For the next six or seven races, we will battle with 19 other nations for those spots, and at the moment we are only 22 pts behind the eighth nation. We’re charging it! 

The points are extremely close across the fleet because the racing has been really tight and challenging. Each day we’ve seen a shifty, offshore breeze, and even the leaders have had races deep in the fleet. We’re focusing on keeping our minds sharp, taking this long regatta one race at a time, and fighting for every last inch. In case you missed it, here is the link to our best race yet, when we finished 2nd on the first day of qualifying: https://youtu.be/EysOkqIGZjk. Cheers to more of these! 


Day one: We sailed the first three races on the Stadium Course, which is nestled next to shore for the viewers. This venue is incredible, and the grandstands were actually full of enthusiastic spectators cheering at the top mark rounding's. The course's proximity to land also meant that there were random, huge shifts and the puffs were pretty crazy. The velocity ranged from 5-13 knots, so it was challenging to even chose a rig setting. We had two deep finishes, which we attribute to strategic errors and a little bit of bad luck, but we also sailed our best race yet and finished 2nd in the 2nd race of the regatta! Watch the racing from Day one here: https://youtu.be/t2wd0Vt9lHQ


Day Two: We saw big breeze and moved up 9 places in two races! This was our best day yet. We love when it's super windy and chaotic. We had two solid races in 15-20 knots. We took big risks, sailed the boat hard and were very happy to post a 5th and a 13th. 


Day Three: Yesterday we hurried up and waited. After a 2 hour postponement on the water, we drifted around the course for a challenging 45 minute race. We absolutely nailed the start at the pin end, but unfortunately, a couple minutes after the start pressure filled in from the right side and benefitted every boat on the racecourse except us. We went from winning to 25th by the top mark. But we clawed back and finished 19th in that final race of qualifying. The Qualifying Series (for Gold Fleet) ended and we made the cut- Goal #1 complete! 


Watch the first three Gold Fleet races LIVE TOMORROW 12 PM local time (6 AM EDT): https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCihBCFVwHKZT_jHc3Y3j8YA?sub_confirmation=1


Results: https://aarhus2018.sailing.org/results

Facebook: @RobleSheaSailing, @WorldSailingOfficial, @aarhus2018 or @USSailingTeam

Youtube Channel: World Sailing TV 

Thanks for following along! Your support and words of encouragement mean so much to us!

Stephanie Roble
Proud in Poland - 5th overall at the European Championship
Photo credit: Drew Malcolm 

Photo credit: Drew Malcolm 

We just wrapped up the 49er European Championship in Gydnia, Poland with a team best finish of 5th place overall! Over 6 days of racing, 14 races + 1 medal race were completed in primarily light air and choppy sea state.  We had 12 top 10 finishes and are proud of this because light air has generally been a weakness for our team.  

We sailed a really consistent qualifying and finals series in challenging conditions. We went into the medal race (short, 2 lap course worth double points) on the last day in 4th overall with all 3 medal positions within reach. It was a tricky day with an offshore breeze and small rain squalls moving thru which made the pressure incredibly unstable and hard to read.

After sailing most of the race in 4th place, the last downwind run became especially unstable. In this place we had secured a silver medal by keeping the Brits, Swedes and Spanish behind us. With the Spanish far behind, the focus was on beating the other two boats who were splitting on the run, leaving us with a tough decision on how to cover.  We gybed back to cover the Swedes in what we thought was nice pressure. Unfortunately it didn't play out as planned and the Swedes passed us and we only finished 1 ahead of the Brits with not enough gap to earn a medal.

It was an exciting medal race and although we are bummed to be only 2 points from a medal, we are really excited about our progress as a team to be playing at the top like that! Our starts were a huge improvement overall, with an average a score 4 out of 5 by coach. We also made a lot of steps forward with small things around the race course that are adding up.

Now we are each home for a week before heading to Aarhus, Denmark for training and the World Championship! Very exciting!! Thanks for following along!

-Steph 

Event results here

In case you missed the medal race, check out the live recording 

Event highlight: Maggie turned 29 years old and Steph made sure absolutely everyone knew, including the camera crew and entire regatta.

 

Photo credit: Drew Malcolm

Photo credit: Drew Malcolm

Stephanie Roble
Killer Times in Kiel - 11th Overall

We finished 11th out of a very competitive field of 60 boats, most of which will also compete in the World Championships in August. This is the second event in a row that we’ve finished narrowly outside the medal race cut-off of the top ten. As gut-wrenching as that might sound, the disappointment only makes us hungry for the next event. And luckily we don’t have to wait long before the European Championships start in two weeks.

Kieler Woche is a truly one-of-a-kind event, and the numbers speak for themselves: 1,870 boats, 4,000 sailors, 60 nations, and 495 races held over 9 days of racing for a wide variety of classes. Sailors flock from all over Europe to camp out in the oversold (cold, wet and rainy) campgrounds. Additionally, the event village is like a well-organized state fair with sausages, schnitzel, beer mugs and crepe stands. Kiel Week is a special experience on and off the water.

We started the event with a bang posting snake-eyes (or two first place finishes) on the first day. The races were puffy, shifty and somewhat random - Steph loves this condition. We were able to keep our cool at the mark roundings, sail smart on the beats and stay in the front pack all day. It was an awesome feeling and a great experience to wear the yellow pinnies on day two.

The following days of racing were tough. We struggled to post consistent scores and put up several double-digit scores in the remainder or qualifying and Gold Fleet Finals racing. One statistic recorded by our coach, Giulia Conti is pretty revealing: our finishing position in almost every race was between 5-15 points better than our first windward mark rounding. Or in other words, we were starting the race behind and paying catch-up everytime. To execute starts at a very low percentage, but still finish the regatta in 11th place means that we’re fast, sailing smart, but really need to work on getting off the starting line more consistently. Luckily Kiel Week was a tune-up regatta for the next two championships that really matter, the Europeans and World’s. Our objective this past week was to identify the areas we need to improve, and seeing these weaknesses so clearly is a blessing this early in the summer season. We have 4 weeks and lots of racing before the Worlds begin, and we’re going to tackle the starting line head-on!

Now we go home for a week before we return to Gdynia, Poland for the European Championships.

Full event results here

-Maggie

Stephanie Roble
All About Aarhus

 

I want to take this chance to give you some honest and personal insight about the pressures of campaigning. We finished two solid (and grueling) training blocks in Aarhus, Denmark before we relocated to Germany for Kiel Week regatta. We were in Denmark preparing for the Aarhus World Championships, August 1-13. The Worlds will be a major benchmark in the 2020 Tokyo quadrennium because it marks the beginning of the Olympic Trials and the half-way point in the quad. Every US sailor at this event has one specific goal: qualify the country for a berth at the Olympic games. In the 49erFX class, the top eight countries in the final standings will secure a berth at the games for their country, then the country trials can begin. The rest of the berths will be allocated at the 2019 Worlds and at last-chance continent qualifiers. Long story short, all that matters is being top eight countries at Aarhus Worlds.

Hearing the words “Aarhus Worlds” gives me a nervous feeling in my belly like final exams in college. I remember specifically one final for an Econ class with a crazy professor who wouldn’t tell us the format. All we knew was that it would be hard and some people would fail. All-nighters in the library wouldn’t help because if you didn’t know the material yet, you weren’t going to figure it out in the last desperate hours. A really hard regatta feels similar to those treacherous tests because we can train on and off the water as much as possible, tick off all the boxes we can imagine, but we still don’t ever know exactly what to expect. The conditions will never be the same day to day on any two racecourses. The competitors can be familiar at best. And we can demonstrate our capabilities to ourselves in training a million times over, but there is no guarantee that we can execute what we’re doing in practice on the racecourse 100% of the time.

 We know that we can only affect the things that are in our control - our equipment readiness, our physical shape, our moods, our food, our routines, communication, etc. But at the end of the day, we’re competitive athletes, and we want to perform for our team, our country, our supporters, our families, and ourselves.

We can read sports psychology books over and over again, and we can tell ourselves a million times that “results don’t matter; keep the big picture in mind; focus on the process of improvement; trust that results will come; focus on the things that are in our control…” While we do genuinely believe those mantras, we can’t deny that sometimes results DO matter. And it’s our job to figure out how to not let the pressure of what we want to achieve affect the process of getting there.

 

 During the Aarhus training, two months prior to worlds, we needed to spend as much time as physically possible on the water. We averaged 3-4 hour sessions on the water everyday. We sailed against some of the best teams in in the world, including the Kiwis, the Danes, the Swedes, the Norwegians and the Argentinians. We had some shining moments and made huge progress in critical areas on the racecourse like starting mechanics, mark rounding’s, and upwind speed off the starting line. We are encouraged and excited by our steps forward, but we also know that it’s not always easy to apply what you learn in practice onto the racecourse immediately. So we’re trying to be patient with this process, and to let our desire to reach our goal motivate us in a positive way.

 Aarhus is a really challenging venue. The breeze is typically offshore, so it seems that many racecourses will be plagued with oscillating shifts and a huge range of velocity. After sailing on the race course areas, we concluded that there were no patterns to the shifts and instead we should expect randomness. Much like that Econ test that gave me so much anxiety as a 20 year old, we will go into the Worlds not knowing what to expect from this venue. But this will be different because we’re older, wiser and stronger than we’ve ever been, and we have a fantastic team supporting us. We are well-prepared for this test, and we’re excited to get racing. We will allow our thorough preparation to give us confidence going into the event, and we can’t wait to light it up in Aarhus!

-Maggie

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Stephanie Roble
CASCAIS, PORTUGAL TRAINING

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. 

Write here…

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. 

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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. 

-Maggie 

Stephanie Roble
Growing Pains in Palma
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Regatta: Princess Sofia Trophy in Palma de Mallorca, Spain

Finish: 28th out of 53

Recap: The European regatta circuit began at the Princess Sofia Trophy in Palma de Mallorca, Spain last month, and it was a harsh dose of reality for us. In the fleet of 53 boats, we finished just below mid-fleet. We were reminded how much work lies ahead of us, how tough the competition is in this fleet, and most importantly that we absolutely love the challenge of this sport. 

The two-day qualifying series was sailed in light and shifty breeze. We struggled to get off the starting line cleanly, which made the races extremely difficult. We constantly passed boats around the race course, but we definitely made our jobs harder than they needed to be. 

We missed the gold fleet cut-off of top 25 by only a few places places, and had the chance to battle some other great teams in Silver fleet. We focused on small tactical moments, like creating our pre-race game plan and communicating it throughout the race. We focused on small, process-oriented goals to keep our big picture mission in focus: use every race as a learning opportunity and appreciate the small gains. Posting a bad result always tests our patience, but it also is extremely motivating. 

We originally planned to spend a week at home between the regatta in Spain and the next regatta in Hyeres, France, but we decided to cancel our flights and stay in Palma to log more hours on the water. Palma delivered some epic conditions, with big breeze and huge swell, and we were so grateful for the extra time in these uniquely challenging conditions. 

Highlights: Crepe stand next to the boat park. 

Lowlights: A bad capsize recovery on the windy day cost us DNF (due to the time limit expiring). Moving forward, sounds like we need some more capsizing practice! 

 

A bad regatta result can sometimes be the best motivation to spend more time on the water, work harder in the gym, re-examine our goals and focus on the process. And for that reason, we’re glad to have gotten it out of the way so early in the season! Onwards and upwards! 

-Maggie

Maggie Shea
Light Airs in Hyeres
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Regatta: Sailing World Cup Hyeres (France) 

Finish: 11th of 40 (by invitation only) 

Recap: 

A light air regatta is what the coach ordered and that's just what we got. It was the perfect opportunity to continue working on our light air upwind technique as well as getting off the starting line in a really good fleet. The Sailing World Cup regattas are by invitation only and therefore draw the best teams in the world. 

Results showed a lot of inconsistency in our scores. However, taking scores out of the picture, we accomplished our goal of executing starts. Our coach, Giulia Conti, scores us on each start and for this regatta (11 races) we received an average score of 3.45 (out of 5), with 4 of the starts being a 5. This is a huge improvement from the Miami event in January, where we averaged 1.875 in 8 races. This scoring reflects our positioning and acceleration technique. 

A few of the races we simply chose the wrong game plan which led to higher scores and some races we didn't get locked into our mode soon enough off the line forcing us to tack out, also leading to higher scores. This is the next step for us which will help us produce more consistent and better scores.

Around the course we continued to focus on micro goals to help focus on the process and not the result. At the end of the day, we need to be focused on growing in each area of the course in every condition, our boathandling and strategy/tactics. This is a lot!  One step at a time...

Highlight: that feeling when you crush a start!!

Lowlight: a really bad "low tide" ocean smell at the launch ramp...and the launch ramp itself! 

Progress isn't always linear. We must focus on the optimizing the process and trusting the results will follow. We are keeping our eyes on the prize for the World Championship this summer in Aarhus. 

-Steph

 

Stephanie Roble