Sam Davies blog
It is time to sit down in front of my laptop and give you some news from the beginning of 2011!
It has been a “flying” start to 2011 for me with lots of “projects” to get involved in!
A week in Meribel early January with fellow sailors Jeanne Gregoire, Gerald Veniard, Romain Attanasio was a great way to get back to top physical form with a physically challenging program including a 2-day self sufficient ski-touring expedition where we ski-ed a lot more uphill than down! Thanks to the super “guide” Manu.
Then it was back to the coast for a few days before jumping in a plane to head out to Oman with my good friend (and double Olympic Gold medallist) Shirley Robertson. We are working with Oman Sail to help put together an interesting sailing program. We spent a few days in Muscat, both dingy sailing with some very keen school girls and also working in the office with the team to work out how to put this exciting program into action.
Unfortunately I missed a couple of weeks with Swine Flu and Bronchitis (including the famous “Trophée Mer et Montagne” competition in the Alps, but luckily I was just about back on form for the first “stage” of Figaro training at Port La Foret, thanks to some sunshine and some great SUP outings to get back in training!
It is SO GREAT to be back out on the water regularly in the Figaro Class. The training at Port La Foret is just as high-level as ever, which is really quite intimidating as this was my first time back solo in a Figaro since 2006!
Each “stage” lasts 3 or 4 days on the water, generally training (exercises, races, speed-work, manoeuvres etc.) for three days with speed testing or sail testing on the fourth day. We have now done two “stages” – every other week - with a week of theoretical and physical training interspersed between each week on the water.
A typical training day starts at 09.30 with a debrief (video, photo and track/performance analysis) from the previous day followed by the briefing for the day’s training. Then we go and rig up and motor out to the bay (whilst eating lunch) to be on the water for the warm-up at 12.00 sharp. The warm up is normally a small course in the bay sometimes with set “tasks” to do at certain marks (like a back-down!) The main training then begins when everyone is out and “warmed up”! The session will depend on the objectives set at the beginning of each stage and the weather. Exercises plus one long or two shorter races. Every race is a “real” competition and it is an honour to win a race in the Port La Foret training. Everyone gives their “all” 100% of the time and at the end of the day at the finish line of the last race (between the red and the green channel marker at Port La Foret entrance) each skipper is completely exhausted! Generally we are back on the dock at around 18.00 to pack up and save / e-mail the performance information from the nav software to the coach ready for the following morning’s debrief.
For me these days on the water are rich in learning and totally exhausting. I struggle to eat and drink enough to replenish the energy spent in the training! Dried fruit and nuts to hand at all times and I drink at least 2l (1l of water 1l of energy drink) whilst I am out sailing. Stretching is compulsory at the end of each day, but despite my best efforts I have stiff and sore muscles all week (sometimes so sore that the pain wakes me up in my sleep!!)
So far I am managing to stay in the middle of the group and not embarrass myself too much! I have discovered (to my pleasant surprise) that sailing a Figaro is mostly like riding a bike and I have not struggled too much to re-find my automatisms for the manoeuvres. The hardest part for me is re-finding the “feeling” and perfecting the fine tune quickly in changing conditions to stay at 100% target speed all the time. Every day that improves though and the Figaro tuning guide is returning to my head!
Last week we even did a small “night sail” as our Wednesday session was a longer coastal race (out to Lesconil and return around the Glenans) finishing at 10pm (home by midnight!) It was GREAT to be out there for a beautiful sunset and to re-discover the sensations of sailing in the pitch dark for the first time this year – all the more fun in a 15-boat one-design single-handed fleet!
This week we have some theoretical training (e.g. weather courses with the great Jean-Yves Bernot, mast climbing techniques etc.) and I am working on my Vendee Globe proposal in parallel (mustn’t forget the BIG OBJECTIVE!)
Next weekend I am taking part in the “Womens Cup” in Pornichet. In fact I am the “godmother” of the event. I am really looking forward to it. A great initiative by the APPC Voile in Pornichet to create an event 100% for girls. The boats are provided by the club and the event is supporting my “favourite” cause – BECAUSE I AM A GIRL (campaign run by the NGO Plan) for girls rights all over the world. I will be sailing with my girlfriends who are a mix of professional and amateur sailors – JUST FOR FUN!