November was one of the most productive and eye-opening experiences we have had throughout this campaign. Working with a three time Olympian as our coach and training along side many gold fleet sailors really altered our perspective on ourselves and how we will move forward.
We spent the month training in Cascais and Vilamoura of Portugal; two weeks in each spot. Working with our Canadian training partners and new coach, we put a lot of focus into communication, speed, mark roundings, and strategical thinking. Our goal was to change the style of our sailing, in the sense of who is addressing each variable of a race. Evan now has a lot more responsibility on the speed and driving of the boat; calling short term pressure changes, angle of the boat to the wind, heel, sail trim, as well asking questions about lay-lines, our position, and other boats. This not only puts our thinking and anticipation on the same page, it allows Will to keep his head much more out of the boat; looking at the fleet, big picture conditions, and spend much more time developing a thorough and changing race strategy. This is important as the driver ultimately has the decision where to sail on the course and the crew is primarily occupied with sail trim and is using too much energy to be focused on the tactical aspect of racing. Our performance increase was substantial with this new technique and the amount of hours we put in on the water. We found ourselves with several top 3 finishes during practice racing in Vilamoura and many gold fleet racers finishing just behind us. While we have a long ways to go to solidify our consistency with this new style, the improvement is very apparent.
Aside from the sailing itself, we had many take home lessons about campaigning. Between our coaches words and observing other sailors, we realized how hard and efficiently they worked on their campaigns on and off the water. Whether it was their sheer level of focus while training, addressing boat work to minimize breakages, or being on top of recovery via mobility, stretching, sleep, and nutrition, other teams appeared to be one step ahead of us in many departments. As this is our first two months of full time campaigning, these are valuable lessons we are happy to learn now and are determined to improve through to the games. Our last, and maybe most important lesson we learned was the ability to disconnect when the day was over. Taking the campaign seriously with full intensity every minute of the day can easily become exhausting and eventually lead to burning out. For the benefit of our teams longevity which will ultimately let us progress the furthest, it is important to have fun and remember why we are doing this; for the love of the sport. We think this is important with any type of goal, whether it is career, sport, or health based. Once the jobs are done for the day, being able to put in on the back burner and enjoy the travel and experience will bring our attitudes up each day and allow us to put in one hundred percent focus when it counts.
We are super happy with what this camp did for us and are already working hard in the gym and on logistics before we head to Miami for the World Cup stop. We would like to thank everyone that has helped us so far and with getting us off on the right foot to our full time campaign for the games.