October 31, 1997

1997 Laser Master World Championships (Algarrobo, Chile)

by Doug

These are my Worlds race journals.  I send daily updates home to friends during the events and often receive good advice each day but I also find them to be a useful analysis tool when preparing for the next event.  I’m making them public in the event others might learn something from them.

The setting:
Algarrobo, Chile. A small coastal town 50 miles west of Santiago. This is the first time Chile has hosted an Olympic class world championship. 43 competitors from 16 countries in the Master division.

Anticipated conditions:
Strong winds (70% of the time over 15 knots).

Wake-up call:
Competed in the 1997 North Americans and finished in the 50’s (totally out of shape, premature start in 3 races).

Defending world champion:
Keith Wilkins, has won it 5 times in a row. A superb sailor in all conditions (worst race in the 1996 world championships was a 2nd). Was Ben Ainslie's first coach. Also expected was Mark Bethwaite, former Soling and J24 World Champion and runner-up in Laser Masters in 1996.

Living in Dallas, where there is virtually no Laser sailing, I focused on off-the-water physical conditioning (and putting on 10 pounds). The game plan was to cover Wilkins and, if possible, out-grind him on the final beats. Arrived a week early to get used to the conditions and spent a total of 17 hours on-the water training. Did some great last-minute tuning with Ian Lineberger from Florida.

Trapezoid (windward, reach, run, reach) for two laps and then a windward finish. Three things make the sailing particularly difficult. Firstly, the large waves from the south-west are not at right-angles to the wind. On port, you go straight into them and on starboard, they roll under you. Secondly, the wind feels like it shifts left 10-15 degrees to the left at the top of each wave (actually, feel it’s the circular movement at the top of the wave that changes the apparent wind direction). On port, this permits you to punch your way over the wave and accelerate down the back - feels very fast. On starboard, it feels like the boat is being continuously headed - feels very slow. Thirdly, this is a left favored course. Way left. Two tacks. 11 races are scheduled over 6 days.

Why the detailed notes?
The only advantage really experienced sailors have is what they learn from previous events. To overcome this disadvantage, I record and study the few international races I go to. These are my notes that I am e-mailing back to friends in the US each day.

Day 1 (October 26) very light wind (5-8 knots), 4 foot waves.

Race 1
Worried - had not trained in any light conditions. Started in the middle in clear air (pin favored). Pointed well with good speed. Mark Bethwaite (son of Frank, older brother of Julian) at the pin shot off like a rocket. Was able to pinch off a very fast Barry Waller (AUS). Did not get too close to the left lay line (going too far looked crowded), stayed in a lane coming in on port and rounded a close 3rd. On the reach, the lead boat was really working the mainsheet which did not appear to work. Caught the other two at the next mark with buoy room. On the run, stayed inside and kept slightly ahead of Pieter Dekker (NED) and Keith Wilkins (GBR) who had passed several boats to move into 3rd. Started the bottom reach 3 seconds in front. On the second beat, Dekker immediately tacked onto starboard to go left and I covered loosely. As we went out to the left, either I had great height or Dekker was having problems because he ended 50 yards to below me - assumed he was out of it. Wilkins was now directly behind me, pointing well and going faster. Covered Wilkins but at the top mark, Dekker had worked his way back into the lead by sailing behind me and tacking away when I got headed (after the race, he told me he was surprised I was not watching him more). The positions remained unchanged on the reach and the first three boats bunched up at the bottom of the run. At the mark, Wilkins tried to dig above me to get inside room, I defended by going high, we jibed around and Dekker, I, and Wilkins rounded in a tight group. The positions remained the same on the reach and, to everyone’s surprise, the course was shortened at the bottom mark. Finished 2nd, 3 seconds behind Dekker, with Wilkins 3rd. Race duration: 90 minutes.

Race 2
Looked to be pin favored and there looked to be a hole at the pin. Bethwaite had another excellent pin start and shot off for the early lead. Started 3 up with OK speed but had trouble pointing. Drifted down and had to tack twice to get clear air (luckily, there was no one on my hip as everyone else was pointing higher). Continued with good speed on starboard in a narrow lane, but still could not point. Felt very nervous and wanted to get over to the right a little, so dug in on port and had to duck 4 or 5 boats. Figured I was toast as I tacked back onto starboard in another narrow lane. Those I ducked tacked when they reached the lay line and really hurt each other all the way to the top mark. On port, stayed in a narrow lane just below and rounded a close 2nd. On the reach, the boat in front went too low and got rolled. On the next leg, a run, planned to jibe and go high to protect, but changed my mind at the very last moment and sailed past the mark. The 5 boats right behind all jibed and stopped. Got good separation and led by 30 seconds at the end of the run. The next reach was uneventful and led by 45 seconds after the first lap. Tacked on starboard to cover the fleet going left. Had good speed but again could not point. Tacked twice to stay on top of the nearest boats. On the left lay line, covered the 4 boats immediately behind me and looked forward to a shortened course finish. Out of the blue, Ian Rawet (GBR) who had played the middle came in from the right. Probably would have not changed my game plan, but the right working surprised me. Had to settle for another second, 10 seconds back. Wilkins finished 11th and was not a factor in the race. Race duration: 60 minutes.

Mistakes made:
  • Relied on the compass, which really did not work in the crazy conditions. Should have had my head out of the boat more.
  • Did not get a good reading of the starting line, felt lucky to get one good and one OK start.
  • Pointing for much of the day was a problem. The first person to get the rhythm of the waves and wind is going to win a bunch of races and maybe the series.
  • Did not keep track of boats playing the right-side of the course.
  • Really missed not having my light-air mainsheet!
What worked:
  • I took out two sets of gear (light, heavy) and was happy to be able to shed most of my gear in the light but cold conditions. Many others later said they were overdressed.
  • Pure boat speed conditions, footed well. Normally sail with no vang tension below 12 knots. Slight tension was needed because of the constant need to let the main out to keep powered up without the sail twisting. (The following day, Mark Bethwaite made the comment that my sail was different from everyone else in the fleet - more vang, boom way out. The sheeting out was to keep the boat moving but the vang bit really surprised me.)
  • Avoided the port lay line (crowded and slow). The lane just below is better.
  • I’m not convinced hard left is so favored. The course keeps the fleet nicely together, but in catch-up mode, the middle left might work.

Day 2 (October 27) moderate winds (12-18 knots), 8 foot rolling waves.

Race 3
Started mid-fleet in clear air. Looked below me and was surprised to see defending world champion Keith Wilkins to lee of me (so much for picking who you start beside!). About 2 minutes into the race I was in the final stages of rolling him (he would have had nowhere to go) when the race was scrubbed due to a drifting starting mark. Keith was very lucky to dodge that bullet!

The new line looked square but the pin end seemed more favorable. Mark Bethwaite again made another perfect pin-end start with me up on his hip. The entire fleet went left, with Mark and I punching out after about 5 minutes. When we got to the lay line, the fleet seemed to be headed. Mark tacked and would have crossed about 15 yards ahead of me. I tacked under him, hoping that my calculated port-tack speed into the waves would grind him down. This did not work because (1) he was faster and (2) we had overstood the mark (current I think). As a result, I sailed for several minutes in his dirty air. Mark rounded 30 seconds ahead. About 6-8 boats that had not overstood the line met me at the mark and I rounded just ahead of the crowd. In the rush, was unable to let off the outhaul for more power. By the end of the reach, had a 10 second buffer but was now 45 seconds behind Mark, who had caught a few big waves. On the run, cut this to 20 seconds and was disappointed that I had not been more aggressive in trying to catch him. The rest of the race was uneventful, coasted to the finish 30 seconds behind Mark, who looked very fast. Keith Wilkins made a remarkable recovery from somewhere deep to finish third. Race duration: 60 minutes.

Race 4:
Another carbon copy start with Mark two up from the pin and me again on his hip (this made it 5 textbook-perfect pin-end starts for Mark). This time, we did not punch out. Instead, the fleet behind us started to lift as we approached the lay line. In particular, there was one boat ahead, a slight gap, and then Wilkins. I decided to tack to try to sail between the two, but was unable to. Keith tacked in front of me to cover and the boat ahead of him tacked on top, boxing me in. Several other boats joined the parade and the group of us spent the long port-tack back to the mark pinching each other to death. At the mark, a line of starboard boats (that had played the middle) meant that there was no room to round. I ducked about 4 more boats, overshot the mark (just in case), and tacked. Wilkins rounded 12th, I rounded 16th. Powered up, sailed low, and caught a few boats on the reach. On the run, sailed past the mark, stayed right and caught another few. At the end of the first lap, Wilkins was way out in front in 5th and I was a distant 8th. By the end of the second lap, Wilkins was in 3rd and I was in 5th. Sailed the last beat with Dennis Clark (USA). Two hundred yards from the finish, we met (him on starboard). Might have crossed him, but called out “tack or cross” too late to get a proper answer. Tacked below him, a dumb move. Should have ducked him to protect the right. Finished 6th, 2 minutes behind the leaders. Wilkins finished a strong 3rd. Race duration: a very long 60 minutes.

Mistakes made:
  • Assumed port-tack speed was superior. It was not - in fact, felt out-of-rhythm.
  • Kept overstanding the windward mark with Mark Bethwaite in the first race.
  • Did not power-up on the first downwind leg and was not nearly aggressive enough.
  • Got boxed in on the lay line, did not have a lane. Should have slowed down, tacked, and gone for clear air.
  • Did not protect the right at the finish and lost any tactical advantage. Did not communicate well with the other boat on starboard.
What worked:
  • Good but not great upwind speed when not with a crowd.
  • Great downwind speed, due mainly to keeping clear air.
  • Our first windy day - conditioning was good but seemed to lack grinding power.
  • No major mistakes (premature starts, collisions, getting greedy at the marks).
Current standings:
After 6 races, we will be allowed to discard our worst race. If Keith and I each discard our worst race to date, Keith has a 3,(11),3,3 and I have a 2,2,2,(6). In other words, Keith is just 3 points back with 4 days to go. Need bullets!
With Keith - an incredibly fast and consistent sailor.

Day 3 (October 28) moderate winds, dropped (12-6 knots), 3 foot waves.

Race 5
Started one up from the pin to protect the left in good pressure. Pinched off the boat on my hip and then footed for clear air. By the lay line, could cross the fleet except for Mark Bethwaite who also tacked. After 3 minutes, rolled Mark. Misjudged the starboard lay line (current?) and had to put in 2 more tacks at the mark, rounding in first just ahead of Mark and Keith Wilkins who had caught up. Powered up but Mark passed to windward. On the run, went inside Mark to defend from Wilkins who was sailing directly to windward. Got Bethwaite at the end of the run on buoy room and put about 5 seconds on him by the bottom mark (had maximum foot) with Wilkins right behind. On the second beat, Bethwaite tacked to go left but Wilkins did not. Decided to cover Wilkins (he was 3 points behind, Bethwaite was 10). Wilkins continued way right (first time on this side of the course) and tacked short of the starboard lay line. Covered and worked to 6 boat lengths to windward of him by footing. Covered him as he tried to break free. At the windward mark, Bethwaite came in just ahead of Wilkins and we rounded 10 seconds apart. Got a little separation on the reach, run and reach. Then disaster. Just before the bottom mark, was stunned to be yellow flagged by a jury boat for pumping more than once on a wave. Had lots of foot and good pressure in the mainsheet, but there were no wave to catch! Rather than argue, did my 720 penalty turns and rounded 2 seconds ahead of Wilkins who had caught up. A whole new race. Covered him in many tacks that permitted Bethwaite and another boat to catch up. Finished 1st with Bethwaite 2 seconds behind, Wilkins forced back to 4th. Race duration 60 minutes.

Race 6
Same start with the same result but this time, there was less pressure on the left. Just short of the lay line, tacked and worked a narrow lane. Tacked several times to protect it, the boats below and ahead had more pressure. Wilkins was 200’ in front in clear air. At the mark, things totally collapsed as boats came in from the right. Rounded about 35th. Went low on the reach and way inside on the run to pass about 15 boats. Had great pressure on the bottom reach and closed the gap with the leaders, who had bunched up. Rounded 20 seconds behind the leader and 10 seconds behind Wilkins. Most of the boats went left, so I footed to the right looking for clear air and then tacked. A few minutes later, Wilkins came up on port below me. I loosely covered, protecting the right which had worked for the first beat. We both tacked onto starboard and he sailed block-to-block in waves and little wind to out-point me (how does he do it?). He tacked in front of me to cross and I waited 30 seconds for a break in the waves and tacked to cover from behind. And sat there in a hole. By the windward mark, he was one minute ahead. On the downwind legs, he was just behind the lead pack trying to get through. There was a large gap then two boats and me. By the bottom mark, I had passed the two boats. Wilkins was in 13th and I was 14th one minute behind. Wilkins went right and I tried to cover from behind again. The right paid but pressure died just short of the finish line as the lead pack came in from the left. Wilkins sailed brilliantly to move from 13th to 3rd. I finished in heavy traffic a miserable 12th. Race duration 80 minutes.

Mistakes made:
  • Too slow in setting up on the reach.
  • Got yellow flagged. Should have been more aware of where the jury boat was.
  • For the second time, the second race/left side combination did not work. It is interesting to note that Mark Bethwaite did not start at the pin as usual, but in the middle for both races. Mark is a brilliant sailor and I should have got the message.
  • Talked with the leaders of the second race. They said they were playing 10-15 degree shifts. I had not looked at my compass once in the race all day!
What worked:
  • Great upwind speed for most of the time. On starboard tack, the boat goes from stalled to powered up with each wave. When powered up, move the aft shoulder back and out and then bear off and ease the mainsheet before stalling. Very fast.
  • Sailing well on the runs, this time by going inside.
Current standings:
Wilkins had a 4 and a 3, I had a 1 and 12. Discarding the 12 as my worst race, and using my 6, we both had 7 points for the day. Still in first place by 3 points. However, have used up my discard race and have been yellow-flagged once (the next time is disqualification). Three points ahead of Wilkins with 3 days left, Mark Bethwaite is in third 14 points back.

Day 4 (October 29) moderate winds (15 knots) 2 foot choppy waves.

Race 7 (only one race scheduled today)
Worried about going hard left, but the breeze seemed steady, so decided to start two up from the pin. Mark Bethwaite was at the pin (again, a good sign) and Wilkins was two up from me. Was threatened by the boat on my hip but was able to out-grind him after a few minutes. It was then Bethwaite, I and Wilkins who had punched out. Good speed and height. After about 5 minutes, was very surprised to see Wilkins not pointing well - he had slipped down and was almost behind me. Went into pointing mode (something Ian Lineberger and I had practiced) and was able to get directly in front of Wilkins. He tried to foot through my lee, but was fading fast. He then tacked and took a large number of sterns. Bethwaite had worked well clear and tacked at the presumed lay line and crossed the fleet moving very well. I could not cross, so waited for the entire fleet to tack, counted to 10 and then tacked. Because only one race was to be sailed, I noted that the windward leg was significantly longer, and, in fact, the fleet was nowhere near the lay line. Got a nice steady lift and by the time we approached the starboard lay line, was able to cross Bethwaite by about 2 boat lengths. Wilkins looked pretty deep but was moving well. Put in a few more tacks for a loose cover of Bethwaite (wanted him to get well ahead of Wilkins). When Bethwaite tacked onto the starboard lay line, I crossed him, counted to 5 and then tacked. Rounded 5 seconds in front of Mark who had to put in two more quick tacks, just in front of very heavy traffic. Wilkins had worked himself into 5th. On the reach, was terrified about being yellow-flagged for pumping, still not sure what I had done illegal in race 5 (another sailor was flagged for pumping when he was in fact trying to loosen his vang!) Did not pump once and let Bethwaite pass me to windward. On the run, worked inside him and got him at the jibe mark. Led by 2 seconds at the bottom mark with Wilkins now a close 3rd. Decided to cover Wilkins and told Bethwaite of my intentions, so he tacked. Wilkins again sailed right and I covered him closely for the entire beat. Rounded the windward mark 10 seconds ahead of Bethwaite and 20 seconds ahead of Wilkins. Again did not pump once and Bethwaite closed the gap. On the run, Bethwaite jibed onto port and sailed directly to windward. On a wave, with me blanketed, he realized he was going to hit, tried to avoid a collision, and tipped. By the time he was up again, he was in 4th. Now had a good lead and stretched it on the reach, again without a single pump. Covered Wilkins on the last beat to try to hold him back. Finished 40 seconds in front of Peter Griffiths (NZ) who just beat Wilkins into 3rd. Race duration: 80 minutes.

Mistakes made:
  • None - the closest I’ve ever sailed to a perfect race.
What worked:
  • Upwind, set up with lots of cunningham, medium foot and loose vang - felt perfectly balanced and powerful in the clop.
  • Downwind, lots of foot, a bit of vang - really powered up.
  • Had good speed when needed.
Current standings:
Wilkins has sailed with incredible consistency with 3, (11), 3, 3, 4, 3, 3 and is 5 points back of my 2, 2, 2, 6, 1, (12), 1. Still a long way to go with another 4 races to sail.

Day 5 (October 30) moderate (10 knots increasing to 15) 2 foot choppy waves.

Race 8
A new course: two triangles, windward, leeward, windward. Arrived in the race area late and only had a few minutes to set up. The breeze was light so I wanted to start in the middle to protect the right. Just before the start, Keith Wilkins tacked under me and pinched me off. A general recall saved my butt. With a black flag, the boats in the middle really pushed things. My next start was good, but got that horrible feeling with another recall. While my number was not on the board, Jeff Martin, who was on the committee boat, said after the race I was very, very close to being disqualified. Third start was two up from the pin. Mark Bethwaite nailed another perfect pin start and jumped out for an early and sustainable lead. Wilkins was three boats to windward in clear air. Speed was OK but not great. Could not tack until the lay line and lost a bunch of boats at the first mark. Rounded 10th with Wilkins in 7th. Went low and was afraid to pump to catch the waves (did not want another yellow flag). At the jibe mark, still in 10th. On the second reach, went high with good speed and pressure and passed a few boats. The leaders had really stretched out, with Bethwaite doing a horizon job. Started the second work in 7th with Wilkins in 5th. He’s fantastic at coming through the fleet and, with only a 5 point lead, I wanted to cover him from behind. We went right. At the mark, Ted Moore (USA) came in on port and tried to jam in below Wilkins. Moore came out in front and he and Wilkins spent most of the reach yelling at each other. Moore eventually did his circles. Feel Wilkins made two mistakes. You cannot argue and sail quickly at the same time. Secondly, Moore doing circles put him behind the group and gave Wilkins one less boat to put between himself and myself. At the bottom mark, Wilkins was in 3rd and I was in 4th. Close cover on the next beat and closed the gap. We started to split close tacks that Keith ended with a beautiful fake tack that I saw too late. Started a tacking duel to let the 2nd place boat, Alden Shattuck (USA), stretch his lead a bit. He rounded 10 seconds in front of Wilkins with me 10 more seconds back. On the run, watched Wilkins’ flag at the top of the mast and covered his apparent wind as he carved back and forth to get free. Was surprised he did not go into attack mode to get Shattuck. Course was shortened at the end of the run, Bethwaite finished way ahead, Shattuck second, and Wilkins 3rd 2 seconds ahead of me. Was very glad to have given up 1 point of my precious 5 point lead from this poorly-prepared race. Race duration: 80 minutes.

Race 9
Pin start 4 up with Bethwaite trying another pin start. Did not work this time (nice to see he’s human after all) and he got rolled by the fleet. Had the narrowest of lanes between Ted Moore (USA) below and Pieter Dekker (NED) above who I thought was over early. The lane narrowly closed but was able to hold on for reasons I do not understand. After about 3 minutes, another lane opened above Dekker and I put in two quick tacks to get some breathing space. Held on with good speed in the increasing breeze. Waited for the fleet above me to tack and then tacked. Was above the layline and footed in with good speed. Saw Wilkins for the first time, deep. Took a few sterns at the mark and rounded 10th. Went low on the first reach and high on the second to move into 7th. Bethwaite and Wilkins hammering it out in the 20’s. On the next beat, decided to cover Wilkins until ready to go into attack mode. Went right a bit and then way left with the leaders below me. Set up with medium foot, lots of cunningham and no vang and really worked the boat hard in the chop. Rounded 6th. Positions unchanged on the reaches, Bethwaite and Wilkins hammering it out closer to me but still in the teens. Worked hard on the beat, closed the gap on the leaders. Rounded a close 4th at the weather mark. On the run, was afraid to work the waves and let the lead pack get away. On the final work, tacked to get clear air to go hard left. Same setup, worked the boat really hard. When the leaders converged on the port lay line, had moved into 2nd. Worked to get above the leader Alberto Larrea (ARG), but he put in two quick tacks to cover me at the line. Finished 5 seconds back. Bethwaite finished 9th and Wilkins 14th. Race duration: 90 minutes.

Mistakes made:
  • Did not get to the start area early enough to get a feeling for the conditions.
  • Got a friendly warning from Barry Waller (AUS) at the second jibe mark in the first race. He said I was working the boat with my body too hard and could have been tossed. I was not working the mainsheet but was obviously moving around too much. Comments like this from friends really help, because you really don’t know what you look like in the boat.
  • Almost got black flagged at the start.
What worked:
  • Before the races, Mark Bethwaite offered to compare notes on downwind speed (he’s faster on the top reach, I get him on the run). He told me I could go faster if I carved to waves on reaches more. I told him to let his main out past 90 degrees on the run.
  • Great upwind speed again when the wind picked up. Felt very good after two tough races.
Current standings:
In the second race, Larrea (ARG) was disqualified for an incident at the first mark that I did not see (all that work in the last part of the final beat for nothing!). As a result, had a 4, 1 for the day while, in the second race, Bethwaite moved up to 8th, Wilkins up to 13th but could not benefit because this was his throw. As a result, now have a 14 point lead over Wilkins and 20 points on Bethwaite with two races to go. Plan to play it very safe tomorrow. If there’s a breeze, might even start at the committee boat and tack to get free air, and then rely on boat speed to get a top-5 finish to put the series away.

Day 6 (October 31) windy (20-25 knots decreasing to 15) 5 foot choppy waves.

Race 10
Back to trapezoid courses. The strategy was to avoid any kind of breakdown. Started 4 up from the pin well back from the line to play it safe, worked hard out to the left with Wilkins trying to roll me. Tacked on the lay line 10 boat lengths behind him. We both rounded in heavy traffic, him in 10th, me in 14th. On the reach, held on without playing any waves. On the run, went into survival mode to prevent tipping. Wilkins worked well ahead by sailing by the lee and living dangerously. Many boats tipped. Lost several boats and held even on the bottom reach. Covered Wilkins from behind and sailed very conservatively to avoid breakdowns for the next lap and then held on for the final beat. Wilkins finished 7th to my 9th. Race duration: 70 minutes.
Crossing the line in race 10... lots more pictures are below.
Race 11 (the last)
According to my calculations, I had won the event and did not need to sail the last race. To ensure that nothing was left to chance, sailed the last race, again in conservative mode. The final start was near the pin, again well back from the line. Sailed in clear air to past the lay line to avoid the traffic and then tacked and footed in. Wilkins was well back. Rounded 5th. Nursed the boat around the course, going wide at all marks to avoid confrontations. Finished 6th, Wilkins did well to finish 8th. Race duration: 80 minutes.

Mistakes made:
  • None.
What worked:
  • Was really strange to be in the don't-screw-anything-up mode after 5 days of pushing the limit. Frankly, felt it was a lousy way to end a series, until Peter Dekker (NED) said "You earned the right to go slowly". Steve Bourdow once told me “A lead is not for saving, it’s for spending”.
Final standings:
Won by 11 points. Mark Bethwaite moved into second place with finishes of 5, 1 in a great effort on the final day, Wilkins finished 3 points back, and was disappointed to be beaten for the first time in a World's competition since 1990.

Final observations:

Off the water:
  • Several people mentioned that I was by far the best prepared for the series, something that I personally believed but did not think was obvious to others.
  • Set the boat up for each condition so that when I let off the controls at the windward mark, they would go out to the desired position without having to make any further adjustments.
  • Inspected everything each day: the bottom, checked for water, took the sail off to look for and correct mast bend (the spars were new and soft - needed adjustment every day!) No one else was doing this.
  • Tried to eliminate all possible variables. For example, I covered the gooseneck with tape to ensure the cunningham did not get jammed between the boom and the mast. Bought a brand new English sail which may not have any advantages but is certainly not slow.
  • Except for race 8, felt 100% prepared and confident for each race.
  • Had a game plan and stuck to it. Had practiced a good pointing/footing mode.
  • Healing the boat to windward at the start in light air permits you to lee-bow a boat on your hip while still in footing mode - the best of both worlds.
  • The left-favored course made it a drag race. Going all out was needed to stay in the top 10 at the first mark. Mark Bethwaite put in a clinic at the pin, but paid dearly once.
  • Have always had good speed in light air. Practicing for heavy conditions (which only came on the last day) made me confident in the breeze. Mark Bethwaite told me "The difference between this year and last year (where I finished 5th at the Worlds in Cape Town) was you have learned how to sail in a breeze". Actually, I only trained 2 days in Dallas in windy conditions.
  • The rest was conditioning and arriving early to get used to the waves (which got smaller during the series).
  • As a result, had good upwind speed in all winds and was not at all concerned about what each day's conditions would be like. Ignoring wind shifts and the final 2 races of sailing conservatively, was only passed once upwind in the series.
  • Was passed on the first reach (with the waves) a few times but never on the second reach (where waves were less of a factor). Really powered up with a tight leach. On the first reach, the passing lane paid did not seem to work - was better to go low to get room at the mark. High paid on the second to get into the passing lane (at the closing ceremonies, someone mentioned that my boat was the only one significantly faster on this leg).
  • Getting yellow-flagged was avoidable and really hurt my chance to work the boat off the wind.
Other factors:
  • Everyone says that "time in to boat" wins world championships. I have proved otherwise. You need a game plan for training and a game plan for competing. My 2 months of weight and hiking bench training and 10 days on the water in Dallas and 5 days in Chile before the championships was sufficient. You need to be prepared physically and mentally.
  • After the series, talked to the New Zealand judge who had yellow-flagged me. He told me that I was flagged about 5 minutes after he had noted an infringement, and that I was not doing anything wrong when actually flagged. I told him that’s like punishing a child the day after doing something wrong. He agreed that they “had to find a better solution”.
  • No major mistakes were made: no premature starts, no collisions, no breakdowns, no capsizes, no protests, no injuries, did not get greedy at the marks (in fact, never had to give buoy-room). Feel strongly that you don’t win world championships, you let others lose world championships.
  • Knew who my competition was (in my case, it was easy - Keith Wilkins had won the worlds 5 times in a row). Watched him, covered him from the very first beat, learned from him, and waited for his mistakes.
  • Find that eating on the water makes me lethargic. Trained on a 2 meal/day diet - protein and fruit in the morning and lots of carbohydrates in the evening. Did not eat anything exotic. A lot of people got sick eating local food their bodies were not used to (lettuce, seafood). Very tough when friends are going out to try new restaurants. Thinking about food, I need to lose about 10 pounds!
Pictures: there were very few pictures taken of the racing. The last day was windy so the judges had very little judging to do. So I gave my camera to one and asked if he would be kind enough to take some pictures if he got a chance. I'm grateful that he did.

I had a spare day before catching the flight back to Dallas, so I rented a car and drove east to do some skying on what turned out to be the last day of the season. The road up the mountain was the most spectacular I've ever seen, with shrines marking some of the places where people had driven off the mountain.

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