It looks so simple when things are going right, but here's how things can go pear shaped aboard an Olympic 49er
Back from his latest training session in Qingdao, American 49er team skipper Tim Wadlow describes some of the unique challenges that are presented by the already notorious Chinese venue.
But also posted on his blog is this bit of video which makes essential viewing for anyone thinks that 49er sailing is easy to master now the basic lessons have been learned.
Here’s Tim’s blog.
Chris and I just returned home from China. We are pretty seriously jet lagged at this point. Qingdao, China is a 12 hour time change from the East Coast, so we think it’s impossible to be more any more jet lagged!
We had a super productive trip, and we were very happy with our choice to spend more time in China, and less time in Europe racing.
On the water:
Racing in Qingdao created a long list of unique challenges. The average wind speed is very light, and this is exactly what we experienced. We sailed 9 of 10 days, and were shut down with no wind only once. However, almost all our our training was in less than 8 knots of wind.
The waves in China are also very unique. The swell comes in off axis, and there is a lot of chop. Waves breaking over the bow on the downwinds, and surfing waves upwind are common. Every day is different.
The weather is super humid, and often there is a haze/fog that drastically reduces visibility. Without the ability to see land, and with off axis waves, keeping track of the wind shifts is very difficult. Finding the marks can also be challenging.
Probably the biggest challenge is the current. It moves at up to 8 boat lengths/minute. Combined with the light winds, this means that at times it is difficult to make progress. The mark roundings and laylines are also very critical.
Off the water:
Most of the countries we travel to we find quite a few Enlgish speakers, but in china English is rare. The only Chinese words Chris and I know are hello and thank you, so this doesn’t get us very far. Communicating is a big challenge.
Food is also a big challenge. We put a lot of effort into eating very carefully so that we didn’t get sick. We had the guidance of Luther Carpenter, who has been to China 3 times before. He was coaching us as much about what to eat, as he was on the water. His adivce paid off–none of us got significantly sick. We also started to learn what foods we like to eat.
While training we stayed at the Sea View Garden hotel, which is the official US sailing hotel that has been used at all the test events and previous training trips. The hotel is excellent, which eased our transition.
The Olympic venue is not available for us to train from until August 1st. In the mean time we are training from the Lin Hi Yacht Club, which is very close to our course area. US Sailing has set up two 40ft shipping containers which we use for storage while at the yacht club.
We have just a short 2 week break at home, and then we head back to China.