zOlympic: Melbourne Wrap-Up

Andrew McKenzie

Olympic Men's Single Handed Dinghy

Laser Standard

Campaign Update

- ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne #11

- ISAF World Ranking #44

ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne 7-13 Dec 2015, Wrap-Up

My build up to the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Melbourne began after competing in Qingdao World Cup in September. I dedicated the first month back home to a base fitness block, that built on my normal mix of training, involving long, slow, and sometimes arduous cardio (mostly cycling) in the unpredictable and often wet Auckland conditions. Following this it was time to get back on the water in predominantly windy, flat water conditions off Takapuna beach. The first couple of weeks was great training with the entire NZL laser squad out on the water, a long with the 'Dutchies' who were down south training with their NZL based coach. It was good to finally get a decent group of boats out together which made it possible to practice some tight racing, something I feel we don’t get enough of down here. Towards the end of November there was finally a change of wind with some light to moderate northerlies allowing for some wave training.

The start of December came around quickly and with it travelling to Melbourne to begin my regatta prep at the venue. This year the regatta had moved closer to central Melbourne, now based in St Kilda. The new venue provided a vibrant environment, with the daily walk to the yacht club from our accommodation involving a coffee stop at one of the numerous café’s en route.

Day 1 of the event brought a strong gradient breeze from the south, which was thermally enhanced as the afternoon went on. With a later 1430 start time on the stadium course we got the best of the breeze, building up to over 20knots. The breeze brought with it some great waves, making great sailing and some of the best racing I have had in a long time. Unfortunately for me the day was characterised by small mistakes and it took me a little too long to find my rhythm. A capsize in race one and a yellow flag off the start in race two really put me behind the '8 ball' and unfortunately I came away with two average races, a 12 and 14.

Day 2 brought with it a different course area and an earlier start time of 1200. On the port course area we had another onshore breeze but this time only around 10-15knots and smaller waves. Two goods starts and first beats but some poor tactical decisions of the second beats of both races, as well as some speed issues at times on the downwinds cost me. What could’ve been two great races turned into a 7 and a 10. Both solid results but I needed better if I was going to surge into the top 10 overall standings.

Day 3 looked from the outset that it would be the windiest day of the regatta. Unfortunately for the Laser fleet with the later start time again, this meant that we would never get to hit the water. The breeze kept building throughout the day, and several fronts came through which caused carnage among the 49ers and some of the invited classes. This led to a change of schedule for us, meaning 3 races and an earlier start time of 1100 for the final day of fleet racing.

Day 4 - it was all on! Again an onshore breeze, but much more unstable than the previous days and significantly lighter, made for interesting racing. The first race was probably the most unpredictable of the lot, with few lanes of pressure and large shifts, holes, and a tricky chop. Somehow I managed to navigate up the beat relatively unscathed, working my way up the right hand side of the beat to pop out towards the end of the beat and round in

1st place. However it was one of those races where anything could happen and I soon saw my lead diminished by the boats on my rear bringing down new pressure. The second beat was arguably even trickier, but I managed to hold my position quite well and finished the race with a 3. Race 2 saw a big left hand shift on the first beat, which put me in a battle for a mid fleet finish after not holding my lane off the start line and having to tack out to the right hand side. I finished with a 16, my drop for the week. Going into the last race points were tight and I knew I had to have a good race to have any chance of making the top 10 medal race. A good lane of pressure early on the first beat saw me battling for places in the top 3 pretty much the whole way around the track. After a good final downwind, I thought I was a shoe in to take the race win, but a last minute scuffle for bouy-room saw me lose out and I finished with a 2.

Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to make the medal race. I finished the regatta 11th, 2 points shy of 10th. The regatta was tight, I was only 15 points off second, which shows the great competitive nature of the Laser fleet. I was gutted to just miss out on the medal race, but happy with how I progressed through the week and how I pulled some great races together on the last day. Finishing the regatta in 11th has me placed #44 in the ISAF World Ranking - A small milestone that I hope to build on early next year. For now it’s time to have some time with family and friends over Christmas and New Year before the New Zealand Nationals in January, and Europe in February.

Merry Christmas and happy New Year!

On the saddle,

Andrew McKenzie