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!