I prepared with long hours of training and conditioning for this important event. My coach and I defined success as soundly defeating the American competition for the Olympic selection process and at the same time sailing competitively against a fleet of the best 85 windsurfers in the world.
The hard work paid off! At the end of the regatta, the next American was 14 positions behind. In eight of the 10 races, I finished ahead of my principal competitor, generally far ahead. In addition my second goal was met. Although I finished just behind the cut off for gold fleet (upper half of finishers) my overall finish of 2nd place in silver fleet is a good launching point for the second event of my Olympic trials and World Championships in Perth, December.
Even though I am currently ahead by 14 positions in the Olympic selection process, there is still a great deal of hard work to be done. The Olympic selection event in Perth promises to be significantly more challenging than the first and I expect harder competition from my American and my international competitors.
Prior to this important event, I had been training on site for nearly 5 weeks putting in significant hours in order to fully prepare for the racing. Several of us formed a training group and became so accustomed to the venue, we had a game plan for nearly every condition. In addition to the sailing, we were mountain biking extensively. This was a bit new to me, but I began to embrace it as an ideal form of cross training. The athletes I was training with were all faster than me on the bike; however, they gave me some tips, directed me to invest in the proper bike gear and I became more comfortable on the bike after every hour.
This regatta was obviously unlike any other major competition. As you can imagine, it was easy for me to fixate on my US competitor. However, my coach and I formulated a game plan in order to eliminate my main US competitor from my immediate focus and just race the fleet and focus on putting up a solid result.
The few days leading up to the event my nerves were on edge. Add that to the fact I was tapering my workouts to peak for the event and my energy level was through the roof, the end result was limited sleep the few nights before the regatta and a lot of excitement. The first day of the regatta brought light air, long delays and even higher anticipation. We didn’t race until late in the day in light air and challenging conditions. These conditions have always been difficult for me and it was no different during the first day of our trials. In the first race I had a disappointing score and the second race I was on my way to an equally disappointing position; however, the last downwind leg, I found a bit of pressure, pumped hard and passed about 10 boards in the last 3 minutes of the race. Furthermore, I finished just behind my US competitor and that last leg of the race set a very positive tone for me going forward.
The next two days produced nearly identical conditions, 20 – 25 knots. The past few regattas, I have had difficulties in conditions above 20 knots and I was a bit concerned as I tuned up before racing. Fortunately, I sailed consistently well both days and put myself in a position to qualify for Gold fleet, scoring between 17 and 23 in a 43 board fleet. But it was not enough as I missed Gold fleet by 4 points and 2 positions! This was disappointing, but at this point in the regatta, I was soundly beating my US competitor.
Missing the gold fleet only added to my motivation to perform well in the silver fleet. The first day of racing in silver fleet (day four) I got two first places. The competition in the silver fleet was challenging, but not as stiff as the gold fleet; however, that day felt particularly satisfying. Furthermore, both races I won by significant margin. I felt a sense of relief after the fourth day of racing, as I added to my lead and a victory at the first Olympic trials event was within sight.
The last day of racing, the fatigue began to set in. It was cold and rainy. I didn’t finish the regatta in fantastic form, scoring a 2nd and 21st. I did, however, secure my lead in the Olympic selection process by 14 points and in doing so qualified as the only American mens windsurfing representative for the pre Olympic regatta in August.
This was an amazing feeling finishing well ahead of my American competitor at this first event of my trials. However, the Olympic selection process is not complete and there is still a significant amount work and training to be done to secure the only US Olympic windsurfing spot at the 2012 Olympics and put myself in medal contention. I was not fully satisfied with my overall result in Weymouth. In training races prior to the event I was doing better than I did in the actual races by a good bit. Initially, this was a bit concerning for me as I know I can compete with the best in the world. However, as I reflect a bit more, I understand that to get fast, you need to be fast in training before succeeding in actual competition. This regatta reminded me that training is so much different than the actual races. I am really looking forward to heading back to Weymouth in a few weeks and getting another crack at racing at this venue (pre Olympics, August). I think with some additional on the water and fitness training; I can put up a very good result at the Pre Olympic regatta in August.
Upon my arrival back in the States I have experienced the most physical exhaustion I have ever gone through. I am going on my 4th day of sleeping 12+ hours, my body aches and it feels like it is going to take weeks to fully recover. However, things will start clicking, my fitness will come back stronger and I will be fully prepared for the Pre Olympic regatta in August.
The tentative plan is to head back to Weymouth around July 10th for 3 weeks of solid training in preparation for the Pre Olympic regatta (more info on that coming in the next update). In the meantime, I intend to rest here in Chicago, enjoy the July 4th weekend, do a bit of sailing and enjoy the comforts of home.
Overtraining and Fatigue:
The day the regatta ended, my coach looked at me and said I had over trained for this event. Over training is a result of not allowing yourself to fully recover between workouts, ultimately hampering your fitness. There is a fine line between over training and training hard and preparing for an important event, it is easy to get caught up in trying to do every workout hard. The fatigue was most noticeable during the last 5 – 7 minutes of each race; there were many times I lost positions at this juncture of the race. Even though I felt a bit fatigued during the regatta, the hours of difficult training I put in will only benefit me when I prepare for the pre Olympic regatta in August, after some proper rest of course!
Thank you to all of you who’s financial support has helped me get to this place. Also, a special thank you to my coach, Peter Wells (2004 US Olympian), to my mother who kept me well fueled during racing with her great meals, to my father who managed the photography duties from a wet and rough coach boat and to my brother, Jesse, for his constant enthusiasm and humor.
Finally, a very special thank you to my Dutch, Kiwi, Canadian training partners and their coach for pushing me hard over a long training schedule. Their support, knowledge and camaraderie was tremendously helpful in me preparing for this crucial event. Called Team POW! the members represented themselves well – JP, Dorian and Zac finished 2nd, 3rd and 14th overall. Congratulations!
Updated on May 21, 2013, 4:16am