Another year has come and gone. It is a good time for us to reflect on our experience and progress. There were a lot of new ideas we implemented over the year and we came away with many lessons that continue to make us better sailors and people. From skills such as boat handling techniques to rig tuning, all the way to team compatibility, scheduling, and our relations with you as supporters. The successes we have had, continue to raise our confidence and belief in the program, while the failures have taught us important lessons and drive us even harder to push forward.
The past month was a complete encapsulation of these lessons. Continuing our training in Portugal, we had many days of great success with our training plans and skill development, along with identifying areas we wish to target in the future. Our skill set is no doubt the highest it has ever been and training with several world class teams throughout the month highlighted the level we are reaching. Not everyday was sunshine and roses though; some days felt like the world was crashing down when we could not get things right. Finding our speed felt as if we were always behind the curve, or making small maneuvering and decision making mistakes would drag the mentality of the session to the ground. These experiences of success and failure - rise and fall of emotions, elevation and drop in skill - are the best teaching tools an athlete can experience. Each moment is a lesson, and put together, make for significant conclusions. Our limited
experience of competition at this pinnacle level of athletics is where we find our highest room for improvement; finding consistent emotional balance throughout our training and continuing to expose ourselves to racing situations are the final tools to bring all our skills together. Developing confidence on the race course and knowing when to execute each of our skills will tie all of our practice into winning results.
The racing at the end of our training block really highlighted these ideas for us. With results all over the map, it was a continuous struggle to find a balance in emotion and therefore consistency in racing. Most of our races were sailed well, but hurt by a single mistake/issue. One race in particular was a great example of this. During the third day of racing, we had two poor races struggling with our speed in shifty off-shore breeze (which is typically our most favoured conditions). After a short wait, the wind switched to a stable sea-breeze. We did an excellent job of refocusing on the new race and hit every check-mark on the winning race strategy, including finding our speed. We rounded every mark in first position (of 45 boats). As the race progressed and we monitored our position, our confidence and composure continued to fall off leading to poor downwind boat speed and a single tactical failure, all on the final downwind. The race was still a complete success finishing in 3rd place - our first time in a podium position. This race reinforced our need for more experience and confidence. All our skills were on point throughout the race, but we were not capable of handling the composure necessary to finish the result.
Taking away these conclusions from the past month and over the year, we could not be more fired up and excited for what 2019 has in store. We wrapped up the month by setting up our new boat in Miami, then spending a much needed two weeks at our respective homes for the holidays. All these things combined to put us in the best position were have been in so far. Our skills are reaching a level of the highest caliber, we have a thorough plan and support system setup, our equipment and organization is on point, and after the holiday break with a fresh outlook on our campaign we are fully set to complete our goals. We are in a very well developed position. Unlike most teams around this point of the Olympic quad, we feel like time is on our side. The pressure is not on us; we will be sticking to our goals and plans, full well knowing that being excited about our journey and continuing down our route is all we need to succeed. Bring on the new year!