Friday, July 23, 2010

60: Day 14 – Slalom Training

The forecast for today was for stronger trades and no waves. In the past I would have been sat at home moaning at the lack of swell. However, this year things are different and a flat and windy day was perfect for me to try out the smaller slalom board (more kit borrowed from Tom!) and a 6.0m. It is quite likely that it will be rather windy for the State Champs in 9 days so I was really motivated.

Before going out today I was extremely keen to get the GPS unit working correctly and check on the official speeds from yesterday. After trying a number of different pieces of software I settled for GPSResults from, this is really easy to work out and makes it easy for you to superimpose your tracks onto Google Earth.

It seems easy to use but I will need to read the tips online and ask others how to get the max out of the software.

I was extremely pleased to confirm that I had broken both Tom and Andy’s 8.0 speed and I would be able to claim back the family trophy. The Lightwind Speed Challenge is a bit of family fun and speeds are only counted when the sailor is using at least 8.0m and a board bigger than 100 ltrs. The speed ladder now stands like this;

1st   Chris Freeman  27.14 knots (2009 8.0m GPS, 2005 Exocet S4 125 ltr)

2nd  Tom Hammerton  25.63 knots

3rd  Andrew Freeman  25.33 knots

Tom was a little sad to hand over the trophy but I am sure that my speed is not that safe and he'll back claiming it back at some stage soon enough. When I get out at THE WALL in Bahrain, then I think that 32+ is possible on this gear maybe more.

Enough of yesterday today was nothing short of exhilarating. With the wind peaking at 35mph I rigged my smallest slalom sail a 6.0m GPS and paired it with a borrowed Alex Aquera ( designed full carbon slalom board and 28cm speed fin. Wanting to simulate race day and test myself I set about sailing a number of full downwind slalom races, the course is always set up in the same place at Kanaha so it does make training easy. I will try to use a watch to get my starts better but I need to get one yet!
Winds were maxing out at 35mph today, more than enough for my 6.0m!

After the first completed course I was a little shocked how tiring it was, I was on the edge with the sail and board combo and crashed one of my turns. When it is this windy at Kanaha it is so choppy and going out it was really difficult to keep the board on the water, coming in was easier over the back of the waves/chop but disaster was always just a moment away. On checking my GPS my course max speed was somewhere in the 27 knot range, less than I had expected (and not good enough). After a short rest I cranked on 2 more inches of downhaul and slid my track forward 2 inches to keep the board down. I completed 2 simulated races with very a short break in between and my top end speed had increased to over 31 knots, I was starting to get used to being so overpowered. Sailing today brought back memories of my youth when my brother and I always sailed totally maxed at Mersea Island in Essex. I was struggling on the turns and that will kill any chances that I have in the race. For the 4th race I slid the track back an inch and worked on simulating the start better, I was getting tired by now and while the speed felt good, it wasn’t as fast according to the GPS and I crashed 2 turns. Time for a break.

After a brief swim and chill out with Liz (thanks to Liz for some motivating words xx) I went for a final test race. The wind had moderated slightly and I felt a lot more in control and much smoother. I gave myself a countdown in my head for the start and raced to the first imaginary jibe mark. As I powered down the leg I kept telling myself to push it and commit myself in the turn and it would be all ok. A few moments later I had flipped the rig and was settling down on the next leg; that was a better turn, right one down 3 more to go. Confidence is a great thing and my next turn was better still despite the large chop on the outside I managed to come own planning and with one slight pump I was settled back down and hurtling down the 3rd leg. I was enjoying this more that earlier in the day and I nailed the next two jibes. I was so pleased because I had shown myself that with a bit of grit I would be able to complete the races. When I was training for the Amwaj Triathlon I completed the full course after work one night and that gave me confidence, this was the same. I don’t want to get too excited because doing this on an imaginary GPS course on your own is one this but doing it with 10 other guys round buoys is very different but it is a start and one from which I can build.

GPS tracks overlaid onto Google Earth - If only we'd have been able to analyse like this back in the 90's!

During my 3rd race I hit a peak of 31.14o knots and a 100m best speed of 30.329 knots.

Evaluation time; to be able to see your speeds and tracks on the computer after your session is amazing, I could look at each of the races that I did and work out where I was fastest and look at my jibe arcs. My top speed came from my 3rd race with a max of 31. 14 knots and a 100m speed of 30.33 knots. I was pleased because I wasn’t sailing a speed course and that was in the heat of battle. My record on a speed course is only 33 or so knots at the moment (something that I am keen to improve during the Maui VMax events in August). It was windy today but not as windy as it could be, it is clear that 6.0 will be too big for my 72kg medium frame on the windy days and I will try to get my hands on a 5.5m. The fin I was using was a speed fin and I didn’t feel like it gave me enough grip or control, I will try to address that issue too. In all, a great day of training and one during which I learnt a lot about my gear and more importantly myself. Training will continue tomorrow.

At the end of the day I was totally exhausted and asleep on Anne and Tom’s couch at 8:30pm!

Pic of the Day

I finally got my camera working so I will be including some pics from the last couple of weeks at the end of each post over the coming days. Today's pic of the day is from the top of Haleakela.

Click to enlarge, high res image available on request.

Sailing record = 100% (13/13 possible days)

More to follow…

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