ED HILL: Breaking the back of the Figaro learning curve

ED HILL: Breaking the back of the Figaro learning curve

Tuesday February 12 2013 Author: Artemis Offshore Academy Location: United Kingdom


 

Artemis Offshore Academy Figaro skipper Ed Hill report on his week of training with GBR Finn coach Matt Howard.

Another week has passed and I have probably slightly neglected my media duties, as I’ve had my head down trying to constantly step up my training and sailing. Last week was a mixture of frustrations and relief and by the end of it; I was about as tired and physically and mentally exhausted as I have been since arriving in France. 

I really feel that in a lot of ways, I have broken the back of the steep learning curve that is sailing the Figaro. It is great that I can finally start to get my head out the boat a little and sail with much more confidence. We had an excellent week with Matt Howard running our training sessions, which as well as improving our sailing, made life a lot easier not having to worry about language barriers. Also having learnt to sail the ‘RYA way’, it was nice to have a week of training where the methods were ingrained in the back of my head. Both the British and French methods of coaching are great and effective, but having just a little bit of familiarity and the ease of communication on the water made a massive difference this week.

As always with Figaro sailing, when things are starting to go well, something goes wrong. It is never easy! I’ve spent the last month really trying to get used to sailing with an autopilot, changing and saving settings that work and are fast. I truly believe that to do well, you must have complete faith in your pilot and really trust it. This week my autopilot decided to stop working, or at least work intermittently and not to command!  Sailing in 40kts, this was not funny and actually hugely frustrating and a little dangerous.  My biggest fear with the pilot is that it turns off when we’re careering along at 15-20kts downwind and in close proximity to other boats – a crash at these speeds is one of my Figaro nightmares!

Fortunately as with most electronic issues, it’s a case of hopefully having the issues now and then fixing them. The main autopilot malfunction issues were from an error with my log (speed sensor).  Fixing this gave me back most of my pilot controls and I’m getting expert electronic advice and training in two weeks to iron out the rest of the bugs.  As always it is never easy, but I didn’t sign up for a holiday!

We are back to training with the French this week (don’t mention the rugby…) and I’m looking forward to seeing how much we’ve all improved and also holding out on a vague hope that it won’t be 30-40kts all week – I’d love to finish a week not completely physically exhausted from massive breeze.  It’s going to 0 degrees here this week, but I’d take a few minus degrees from the UK if we can get some light and medium air training in…

Anyone for a swap?

Ed Hill 

Read GBR Finn coach Matt Howard's update on his week with the Artemis Offshore Academy squad online here and catch up with the latest from all of the Academy squad in Performance Director John Thorn's monthly update here

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