BKA J80 Winter Training

BKA J80 Winter Training

Wednesday November 9 2011 Author: British Keelboat Academy Location: United Kingdom

As winter training continues for the BKA J80 squad, the colder and breezy conditions definitely didn’t stop the guys getting the most from the weekend: 

Will Semken: With the boat prep done before the briefing we headed out towards the Shrape, East Cowes. With sails set we went straight into a windward leeward course to get into the groove and racing mindset. The aim of the first exercise was to hoist on the whistle, and run downwind towards a rounding mark with the focus on our speed towards the mark, gybes, spinnaker drops and boat positioning. This was a great exercise as we had to get a quick hoist, keep the boat speed up in the tacks and get in the controlling position. It was challenging as we had 3 boats arriving at the mark at the same time and all trying to get the best position. The second exercise of the day was similar to the first but focusing on upwind.  

Before heading back to UKSA there was time for a couple of races. On race 1 J80 3 (Helm - Alistair Norris) made a great start powering up the course with J80 1 (Helm - Pete McCoy) to windward and J80 3 (Helm - Jack Whiting) behind. On J80 2 we managed to gain some ground into second on the beat but couldn't get in front on the downwind leg.  

Our boat was tired but happy with the day’s training and with definite areas to work on the next day. At the debrief we discussed how to get the boat going fastest in the conditions with the use of video footage and as a squad we were geared up for the session the next day, even with Phil's 6:45 fitness session to look forward to!  

Serena de Nahlik: After an initial briefing at 9:00, the BKA Development squad were on the water by 10:30, with J80 3 mentally running through manoeuvres on the way out of the Medina, so that the day’s goal was already on its way to being achieved – to perform the manoeuvres in close quarters under control with good communication.

For us as a team, communication was going to be vital throughout the weekend due to a new crew setup from the previous weekend. Alice and Nia were representing Exeter Uni at the BUSA nationals. Instead of 5 we were 4 up, with Alistair on helm, Serena on main trim, Alex on jib/kite trim and Liam on bow. Being 4 up in slightly a slightly bigger breeze of 10-12 knots had both its advantages [more space] and its challenges [less weight] but after the initial windward leeward course we quickly adapted to the new crew. The latter half of the morning was spent focusing on boat control with follow the leader and “drive through”, both of which showed the dinghy sailors among us that yachts behave a little differently when trying to stop, start and steer in tight spaces.

Waking up on Sunday to more breeze [16 knots] provided the perfect step up for all 3 teams as it was immediately obvious that another level on the learning curve was going to be reached throughout the day. The main focus was upwind and downwind technique in the stronger wind – improving our boat speed, lane holding, manoeuvres and teamwork. After the small issue of our kicker pulling through the mast [5 minutes and expert knot tying later all was back to normal], the wind continued to build – the communication from the front to the back of the boat and the teamwork onboard helped us to keep improving and learning and by lunchtime we were all ready for some energy replenishment!

J80 1: It looked to be the windiest weekend the boats had experienced yet with an unstable weather forecast. It was an eventful morning for J80 1 as our spinnaker was unusable after an incident involving a marker in the Solent. We started with some close quarters boat handling exercises and progressed into a series of races. Our team learnt a lot about boat set up during this session and improved throughout the day. On Sunday we got some good extended upwind and downwind tuning runs, tacking and gybing on the whistle. There was good communication and teamwork on J80 1 which enabled us to really sharpen up on our manoeuvres and the whole team felt we had taken a big step forward over the duration of the weekend.

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