Zach and I are here in Santander after a long drive from Amsterdam. Without a doubt, our trips to Europe are becoming exceedingly easier which means we are arriving at our events more refreshed as we worry less about getting from A to B. However, whenever we go to a new venue, as we are now, the adventure begins all over again. We hit several hours of traffic going through Amsterdam, Paris, and Bordeaux which turned our 14 hour drive into a 24 hour event. Upon arrival, we rigged our boat, off loaded the car, provisioned the house, and then slept-a lot.
Santander is a beautiful port city located on the northern coast of Spain. There is a direct ferry from Portsmouth, England and tankers enter the harbor everyday. We are sailing out of one of Spain’s Olympic Sailing Centers. The site has everything from gyms to classrooms, and the sailors can leave their boats fully rigged inside the massive room. Our launching site is just a block away towards the harbor entrance. This is the site for the of the 2014 ISAF World Championships which is a significant regatta for all Olympic classes. This event will be the first opportunity for country qualification for the 2016 Olympics. The tentative country qualification system indicates that half of each class’s berth will be given out during next years ISAF Worlds with the rest available at continental championship regattas.
One of our goals this week is to learn about the venue so we can comfortably qualify next year. Qualifying early will give us more time to prepare for Rio and allow us to allocate the rest of our resources to other performance goals. Zach and I learned the value of qualifying one’s country early when we participated in the 2012 49er World Championships in Zadar, Croatia. With only months before the Olympic Games, 20 countries competed for 7 remaining berths and the result was all out warfare. For the unqualified teams, the World Championships was a distraction: teams peaked for this event instead of the Games, they devoted a lot of time sailing at the Worlds venue instead of the Olympic site, and the event drained many teams physically and mentally. For the 7 teams that qualified, they had very little time to redirect and refocus their campaign in preparation for the Olympics. Zach and I aim to avoid this error. As part of our reconnaissance, we are looking into the places to stay, eat, where key stores are for parts, weather conditions, sailing conditions, and more. The goal is to show up in Santander next year comfortable with the city and the venue so we can focus solely on racing.
Racing begins today at 1pm local time. There are only five boats registered and conditions are expected to be light. Despite the lack of participation, this regatta will also give Zach and me an opportunity to ease back into racing before we head to Marseille for the World Championships. This will be the second week of sailing and the first regatta since my injury in April. Check out the event website for current results!