Sailing World Cup Hyeres – Hudson reviews the event

hudson 2nd Overall at Sail Melbourne

Asenathi Jim and Roger Hudson

Roger Hudson speaks frankly about the poor result he and Asenathi Jim achieved in their last World Cup event.
“To me, their total honesty is a breath of fresh air and something all sailing teams should take note of and implement” Richard Crockett.

Roger Hudson
In the wake of a very bad result at Palma we feel it is important to communicate a few thoughts to our sponsors, supporters and some followers. Asenathi and I had our worst ever % result in our 3 years together in the 470 and following this I think there are 2 important questions: What happened, and what are we doing about it?

Firstly we had a terrible result, 88% of the way down the fleet, 68th out of 78 overall. To put it in context, even at our first ever 470 event together in May 2011 we were 78%. Last year we averaged 43% at the major events and we were 27th overall at Palma and 30% at the World Championship. So to say it was a poor performance for us at this stage is an understatement. A lot of things went wrong, there were breakages, judgement errors and I was very unwell with a bad fever, but none of these things are a proper excuse for the total unravelling that happened as the event went on. The worst of it was that we had very good speed in the week of training at Palma before the event and we started the qualifying series reasonably well but gave away cheap points through very basic errors, the most glaring was hitting the transom of the Ukraine boat 50m from the finish line in race 1 which dropped us around 10 places to 27th. The 2nd qualifying race was a solid 10th, but the 3rd saw us drop an 8th at the mid-way gate to a 21st through 2 tactical mistakes. In the final race of qualifying we estimated we needed a top 12 to secure top-half Gold Fleet qualification and we had a solid 10th midway, but then the breeze switched off and back on again and we were passed by most of the fleet in 2 bad moves. In Silver things really unravelled and we struggled to execute the most basic things through a lack of focus and clarity. It’s obvious these days that there are good sailors right down the Olympic fleets and if you are a step behind the game, they’ll have you with no fuss. We were operating a step behind the game and it was painful. There were one or two bizarre breakages (like a brand new main halyard lock ferrel let go moments before the start of race 6) and the conditions were extreme by Palma standards in terms of sea slop and on-off breeze, but the reality is that we were poor, very poor, and we have to take responsibility for this.

As to why we were so poor, there is plenty that could be considered in the bigger picture analysis. Perhaps foremost, we did no circuit racing from October through to March, focussing instead on developing a local SA 470 training group which included 50 training sessions over this period including a total of 35 young sailors and a core training group of 6 (3 helms, 3 crews) high potential young sailors in addition to myself and Asenathi. I really believe in these guys and their potential and I’m working at getting them Olympic circuit racing experience this year and next. Also all of this activity I believe is of critical importance to the future of this campaign and South Africa’s future Olympic sailing ambitions. If we can’t learn to train hard and develop strong basic skills locally (as Australia and New Zealand do) before stepping onto the circuit, we can’t expect to compete and draw proper value from circuit racing when we get there. Also if we don’t work hard on preparing and developing our most talented young sailors now, we can’t expect them to be competitive by the time Tokyo 2020 comes around. So this activity is vital in my mind, but a lot of our friends and competitors on the circuit have suggested that we suffered from our absence from stringent competition over the last 6 months. Maybe that’s true, but we raced very well in the coaches regatta before Palma and our speed was really good, so I feel we stumbled more in the week itself . There are other factors too, but the key is that our focus in the actual racing was well out and that’s what we are dealing with right now.

So secondly, what are we doing about the situation, what are we doing to try to get our focus and clarity back. We had planned to take a week off after Palma, but we changed our plan and joined the Spanish 470 squad for a 10-day training camp at the Barcelona International Sailing Centre. The BISC is a modern purpose built facility where the rooms, the gym, the dining room and the slipway are all within a 50m of one another, perfect for concentrating on training and sailing. Aside from going on the water, we haven’t left this 50m radius for the 10 days and we’ve tried not to think about logistics, planning, financial issues and the rest that are an ongoing part of campaigning. The 10 days included a 4-day training regatta where we ended up 2nd out of 9 boats (beating several boats that were 30-40 places ahead of us in Palma). In the speed testing (all in 6-13 knots) our upwind pace has been very good and downwind a touch off the best Spanish. In addition to the sailing we’ve spent over 20 hours on the bikes in the gym and we’ve also tried to get as much rest as possible.

This evening we drive down to Hyeres refreshed and hopefully refocused. We all know what needs to happen in Hyeres next week. We just need to go and do it.

Please support them and follow their progress and that of Stefano Marcia who is competing in the Laser Class. The event website is: http://swc.ffvoile.com/