February 13, 2012

Lessons Learned - 2012 Florida Laser Masters Championship

by Doug
For some reason, I have always tanked in the Laser events proceeding my best finishes at the world championships. So when I told Pam about my horrible finish at the Florida Masters (9th), she said "great!" She knows me so well. Here's what I learned.

The conditions were windy - nothing less than 15 and gusts over 30, and cold (45-50). I can honestly say that it's been a long time since I have felt so overpowered. On some of the runs I just spun out to avoid tipping. No one else was doing this and one person actually asked "why were you stopping?" It would be easy to say that at 170 pounds it was my lack of weight, but Peter Shope won it easily with 5 bullets and he weighs 175. Peter also won the famous heavy weather slalom at the worlds last year in San Francisco, so there goes my excuse. It was my lack of training in these conditions. Peter told me that he has been training a lot in these conditions and it really showed. So, lesson learned: if you're not putting in the time, you better put on the weight.

My starts were good for the first 4 of 6 races, and my positions at the first mark after the long beats were a respectful 3, 2, 4, and 4. Being light, I should have blasted downwind and at least held my position but I could not. Lessons learned: watching the lanes behind are important even in a breeze. Learn to balance the power in the hard gusts to keep a neutral helm (very difficult).

As the event wore on and my body wore out, my positions at the first mark got worse. Lesson learned: there is no substitute for time in the boat (duh).

In the last 2 races, I was out of gas. I prefer to sail on an empty stomach, but this did not serve me well. Lesson learned: got to find out a way to get on-the-water-nutrition that is easy to digest.

I tipped more than anyone. In race 5, my mast got stuck in the sand and by the time I was up again I was DFL. And tired. And cold. Lesson leaned: got to practice tipping and getting back up again quickly.

My light air speed has always been good - I have to practice what I am not good at which is exactly the opposite of what human nature tells us to do. The next event is called Midweek Madness, then the Master Midwinters, then the Australian Masters, and then the Worlds in Brisbane. As I told Peter, I have a lot to work on.

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