Gaastra TP 52 Worlds: The only way to get better is to compete against a stronger opponent. (from the movie Revolver)

Gaastra TP 52 Worlds: The only way to get better is to compete against a stronger opponent. (from the movie Revolver)

Wednesday March 20 2013 Author: wouterverbraak Location: Netherlands
Some regatta's are tougher than others….The Gaastra TP52 Worlds was a very tough one for us; taking a knife to a gun fight wouldn't be a bad comparison. 
Whereas in 2006, when I was racing with the TP52 Mean Machine team, we clearly had a speed edge on most of the fleet, this week in Miami we were on the receiving end of the stick. The TP52 class boats have not stopped evolving, and designers have clearly nudged the newer boats to a slightly more strong wind range, of which we had plenty.
So this together with jumping with a new team on a chartered old boat, do two days of practise and then go straight into racing, makes for a hard case to win the event. Realising this fairly quickly, we quickly had to switch our mind to improving all the time and learning as much as we could. For this we had a good mix in our team, with both Olympic, Finn, America's Cup, Star and offshore sailors, which GaastraPro CEO Marc Blees brought together. No shortage of input, and different ways of tacking the problems to advance.
Struggling for speed from the start, we were not afraid to try out different rig settings, which really taught us a lot, and made us able to actually be fast on the light air day, even rounding the top mark in second place. The rig tune is very very critical for the set-up of these sensitive boats, as this allows you to gear the boat well through the windspeed changes,
It really was a case of taking it one race at the time, focussing on a few key points every race, to make sure we kept making steps. For all of us on board, as we are very very competitive people, it was very hard to not get discouraged by the poor results after yet another race in last or second last. We kept the spirit high and kept pushing, which must have been the biggest achievement of the week.
Highlights were our starts, good downwind sailing, and a good team atmosphere, which all started in the early morning running along Miami's South Beach. What a way to wake up, and get the day going. Also, the race organisation had done a good job in gathering the boats, containers and social area, so that we had plenty of interaction and friendly banter with the other teams. What are experiences if you can't share them with others?
Personally I made several big steps in improvised navigation, using data analysis for direct improvements the next day, tactics and rig tune. Not bad for a ten days sailing. 
Now keen to take all the stuff I learned to a more even fight!

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