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Gunboat 60 sailing in Annapolis, MD.

Posts Tagged ‘49er’

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Willie McBride and Dane Wilson were born to the sea; two quintessential California watermen with a long, long sailing future ahead of them.  Will that future begin in Rio?  Only time will tell, but we love the fact that these young studs are already pushing the limits with their training and their organization.  More from Willie below, and have a look at their good-looking website and donate to their cause here.

For those of you not currently following the daily tweets and posts of your favorite Olympic hopefuls or don’t live in Long Beach, CA, the traveling circus that is currently masquerading as the US Sailing Team arrived nearly unannounced in May at Alamitos Bay Yacht Club, and immediately began setting up camp to take advantage of the clockwork-like sea breeze and messy seas west of the LA Harbor breakwater.

For Dane and me, this was the first chance to train shoulder to shoulder with the other 49er teams vying for a spot on the 2016 Olympic Team. We’re relatively new to the fray, having only been sailing the 49er for the past 10 months, but opportunity knocked, so we packed up our gear and abandoned our daily training grind in Santa Barbara to see where we fit in the fleet.

Day one was a bit jittery for us, as the other teams hoisted their sails plastered with sponsor logos, Olympic rings, and gigantic US flags. We were sporting an old set of Canadian sails. No matter – never judge a book by its cover – off we went. The agenda for the day was to speed test upwind until we ran out of runway, then turn around and send it downwind, best man wins. Somewhat to our surprise we hung in with the “senior class,” so much so that by the end of the session Luther and Fuzz awarded us the title of “greatest rookie team of all time.” We weren’t entirely sure if they were encouraging us or hazing us. Either way, day one was under our belt and all was well.

The highlight of the month was the private coaching bestowed upon us by the famed McKee brothers – legends to any high-speed sailor on the West Coast. We’d been staying on the water after the group sessions each afternoon to solidify the day’s lessons, and one afternoon Charlie and Jonathan stayed out to chase us around in a coach boat, with Charlie analyzing our crew work and Jonathan critiquing driving techniques. We made several changes that smoothed out a lot of the boat handling and helped with the rudderless aspects of our maneuvers. We were stoked to get the attention and hopefully to put it all to good use. Part of that process was sharing debriefs each night with longtime supporter and mentor Howie Hamlin. Howie was gracious enough (as always) to provide a roof over our heads while we were staying in Long Beach, and served up heaping bowls of ice cream each evening as we mused over the daily sessions, discussing tuning techniques unique to skiffs, boat handling nuances, and even the means by which we can collaborate more effectively in order to leap frog the US skiff talent in general, as he has always encouraged us to do in the 29er fleet. If that weren’t enough, he even volunteered to ferry around our buddy, and epic young gun photographer John Kelsey in his ridiculously cool helicopter to shoot some aerial stills and video. The footage in this video is just a snippet from our time in Long Beach. Expect to see a lot more from John in the near future as we’re collaborating on a movie about our collective love of the ocean.

In the end, it was an intense month of learning. We’ve now been training for nearly a year in the 49er and by far our biggest challenge has been getting good, consistent information and data to help us progress. It would be incredibly helpful if there were easily accessible institutional knowledge available for young teams here in the US, but unfortunately that knowledge base doesn’t exist yet. In our own program we’ve been compiling, tracking and archiving all of our training sessions, lessons learned, testing procedures and Ah Ha! moments throughout our campaign. It’s a bit of a mish mash of data at this point, but in time we hope to establish a baseline of open information that will be available to new teams getting started on the Olympic skiff path. Anyone willing, able, or interested in helping out can peruse our extended mission at www.FromWhenceWeCame.org.

Big thanks to Trevor Moore for letting us use the American flag sail for the video and to all who made it a great month of training: Leandro, Luther, the McKees, Oakcliff, ABYC, and of course Sailing Anarchy for always highlighting young teams like ours.

-Willie

 

June 27th, 2014 by admin

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The 49er continues to dominate the skiff racing world, with nearly a hundred 49ers registered for this week’s Worlds in Marseille, France and another 53 girls’ teams registered in the FX.  And class scribe Ben Remocker puts it together pretty nicely in this guide below.  The pic above is not from Marseilles but from the 49er Grand Prix in Gdinia, but it’s awesome so it stays.

Marseille, France is the host venue of the 2013 Seiko 49er & 49erFX World Championships.  This championship has the largest attendance for the 49er since 2001, with over 96 49ers registered.  Additionally, there are over 53 49erFX teams registered, so the Mediterranean Sea will be a buzz with skiff sailing action.  Catch all the action Sept 24-29 on 49er.org, including live broadcasts from the semi finals (27,28 sept) and finals (29, Sept).

Both fleets face a similar challenge to each other.  There are two clear favorites, and each will be chased hard by the pack.

Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen have an impressive string of victories behind them with Gold medals from London 2012 and World Championships victories in 2009, 2011, and 2012.   They were unstoppable in London, the last time they raced against the fleet but since then have not sailed the 49er very much.  Nathan was called up to Team Korea to sail AC45′s, and then was picked up by Team Artemis.  He won the spot to steer the Artemis AC 72, Big Blue, and added Iain as his wing trimmer before too long.  After elimination from the AC, they’ve had about a month to get back up to speed in the 49er ahead of the worlds.  It will be interesting to see how the professional experience complements their game.  We’ve seen more experience with less practice work at times, with Iker Martinez and Chris Draper, but in the end it’s seemed like the ‘pro’s’ don’t keep up with the Olympians.  How will Nathan and Iain handle the dual focus?

Behind them is a large and talented pack of sailors dying to reach the top, in some cases again, but for the most part for the first time.  At the top of the list is Peter Burling and Blair Tuke.  London 2012 Silver medalists and recent Red Bull Youth America’s Cup champions, these two have been on an amazing trajectory in their sailing careers.  They recently won the 2013 49er Europeans in a dramatic final race shootout.  We got the pleasure of hearing Nathan discuss the rivalry between Australians and New Zealanders as he commentated the RBYAC and to be sure these two each wants to beat the other!

There are a whole host of other teams who could also win the event.  After london 2012, there have been 11 different champions of the major 49er regattas, so there is no shortage of talented and able teams who can step up and win.

In the 49erFX fleet, it’s a similar narrative and very different conditions.  On top, Ida Niesen and Marie Olsen have won every event they have raced in the 49erFX, but the gaps are narrowing.  They had a commanding victory at Palma 2013, where they showed the fleet how it can be done in big waves and big wind.  Since then, however, their margin of victories has been shrinking, and we saw some vulnerability in the lighter winds of the 2013 Europeans as some of the other teams are highly skilled in the lighter air.  Specifically, the Brazilian pair ofMartine Grael and Kahena Kunze along with Germany’s Victoria Jurczok and Anika Llorenz seem to relish the light air, and if that’s what we end up with in Marseille, Ida and Marie could be in trouble.

The real threat, however, is the bulk of the fleet and the pace at which all 49erFX teams are improving.  The now 55 boat fleet have only been sailing these boats for 10 months to date, and while some teams may have gotten off to a quicker start than others, it is the 4 year effort that will make all the difference in the end.  Most of these top teams are travelling and training with their 49er countrymen and coaches, soaking up 2 decades worth of knowledge as fast as possible.  There are so many talented teams, and so many champions out learning skiffs right now.  5 teams already have Olympic medals from other classes and they all are working like crazy to get back on top.  The other source of talented teams is the 29er phenoms.  Like in the 49er, more and more of the top teams are coming stright from 29er success into the 49er and 49erFX fleets.  To say that Ida and Marie have a target on their back is no understatement, not that they’d let that pull the smiles from their faces.

Join us for all the action on 49er.org to see if anyone can unseat the favorites.

September 11th, 2013 by admin

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Gunboat 60 sailing in Annapolis, MD.

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