Monday, June 25, 2007

Sailing with finesse...

...on a 30 foot boat with "big jobs" and little sailors...

This weekend awarded the opportunity to share the Mumm30 experience with a fellow sailor. I was able to sail the boat, once again, from beginners eyes and brought back to the day when I was once told I was too small to do the fore deck on a Mumm30...

As I walked through the fore deck and pit positions, flooding her head with way too much information, it occurred to me all the explanations, tips and tricks were geared towards someone who can't "muscle through" a job or task.

As a science fanatic, I do respect anatomy and physiology, knowing some "bodies" are better suited for different types of jobs within the different levels of sailing. With that said, not being a very big person who aspires to sail on medium to big boats, getting the job done on occasion requires some mental and physical finesse.

So... Sailing Finesse 101...which only works if you have sailing 101 under your belt...

"Big jobs can be done by little people...remember David and Goliath..."

Use your head...think ahead...respect own abilities and inabilities and don't be afraid to ask for help when needed (leave the ego at the dock, bringing the humble heart on board)...still struggling to get the job it because of feeling too small...not strong enough...can a different "tool" be used to help complete the job...could a tweak in "how" the job is performed help...or, at last..."communication" to fellow crew to set a slightly different stage to perform the job (my fav...."please square the pole"...)???

Aside from on the water practice, trial and error there is land training to the aid of us little sailors who can...want to be a 5 foot halyard jumping rock star on a 50+ foot will have to use that 5 foot stretch of arm length to it's fullest potential with both speed, strength and agility (since stable surface only occurs while docked).


Perform an "air hoist" with a coach to first assess if full range of motion(ROM) is being employed, then either head to the gym or fitness center to consult a trainer in formulating a program/plan which maintains ROM, builds power in the movement with speed. Freestyle swimming, climbing and rowing are all great (and fun) extracurricular activities to build stamina and strength for rock star hoisting and many other jobs on a sailboat.

Need more guidance ... ask SailTrim. On land training, positive attitude and on the water practice can help someone tune their mental and physical attributes to finesse most "big jobs" on any size boat...

Fair Winds,

The little black figure on the bow is me at this years Acura Grand Prix:

Photo: Tim Wilkes 2007

Besides "beginner's eyes" on this weekends sail, gratitude to the people who gave me the chance to try the "big jobs" despite little hands. ~ Thanks to my Mudheads and Family!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

18 Foot Affair...

It's an affair to remember and one worth repeating...sitting here with a beautiful office view of the Connecticut valley, reflecting over my last office view of skiffs screaming across the waters of LakeGarda , Italy...I take a moment and look up the dates of the next European event...the country view is breath taking but a "sea" of skiffs awaiting launch makes my heart flutter.

Photo: J. Langille

The world of keel boats would regulate my pulse if not for dear friend Mason Woodworth's skiff ambition launching around the same time SailTrim.Org arrived on the virtual scene. I still recall the day...sitting at my cubical in biotech land and looking up the 18footer instead of staring aimlessly at excel spreadsheets... As Mason and team (David Brown and Simone Hamilton) prepared for their first JJ Giltinan Championship event in Sydney 2006; I resigned from team "rat race" with promise to join the boys for the 2007 installment of JJ...and so the affair began as a long distance relationship.

Photo: C. Favreau

What's the attraction? Combination of speed, carbon fiber and large sail least that's what tickled my fancy. The relationship began when I entered into their world.

My first skiff encounter was in Sydney and the skiff sailor's nature...strong characters with humble hearts drew me into the class. Each of the teams I encountered, whether top flight or breaking trail, carried themselves broadly both figuratively and literally, with their own boats upon shoulders as they made way to the water's edge knowing; no matter how good a sailor you think you are...the 18footer will test both skill and wit.

Photo: J. Langille

For you see...the 18 foot skiff is a bit of a mono-haul princess (my opinion of course!). If the sailor does not bestow on her every bit of their attention, meeting her needs...she'll dump them, quite literally. Not will go swimming...worried about a missed deadline at work...splash!

Photo: C.Favreau

No matter how humbled, never have I seen a skiff sailor give up from a day's carnage...broken rigs, blown sheets, bowsprits and torn sails...a lawn littered by tools, carbon fiber and rigging till the sun rises; ensuring another day of racing is had. It's off the water where one witnesses the true character of a skiff sailor...

Whether it's sharing tools, tips and tactics or turning the regatta tent party into a surprise 40th for one of their own...the 18 foot skiff sailor is of strong mind, tender heart and good humor...

Photo: J.Langille

They are some of the silliest folks I've met in the world of sailing, easily laughing off the day's events. Not sure whether it's due to the Aussie roots combined with British humor and the artistic Europeans...or one race course bringing together the corporate professional who's traded in his suit for neoprene along side the "whipper-snapper" of a sailor who cut classes to make the start (not sure if that's the case...). It's a fleet of mixed nationalities and sailing no other sailing scene I've witnessed!

No matter...once they leave shore, all are 18 foot skiff elite group. It's an 18 foot affair I plan to keep close to not be surprised if my next tale is from the trapeze...

Special thanks to Mason Woodworth and the entire Team Aeon (we have one killer shore crew!), Christophe Favreau and basically the Great Britain Skiff Fleet!!

"Go big or go home..." ~ Team Aeon


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

When one falls overboard...

...with no healthy means to get back on the "boat" its possible to feel defeated, treading water while the boat sails away...either wishing for a life ring to be tossed one's way, reaching out, holding onto the boat till helping hand(s) assist the rest of an up hill battle to be on the "right side" of the lifelines...or using the strength within to return to safety on one's own.

...translation you ask??? The process of getting back to a lifestyle which promotes health and well being.

Each has their own tale of "falling overboard" while their fitness routine, nutritional plan and stress management sails away without them. To each the feeling of derailment may either empower or enslave . . .encourage a fight back to regain or fuel a negative feedback loop of self defeat. No one desires the latter however some get knocked off the boat unexpectedly and without warning . . . finding themselves in the drink without an easy solution to getting out and the boat is sailing away. . .

There is something to be said about a "safety plan" for the day to day; a generic routine which helps one stay focused on what's important when an unexpected "shift" happens. This could be the simple act maintaining a stash of bottled water and easy to grab smart snacks when time is short.

A little more developed plan may include a 5-10min morning stretch/yoga session which can be done where-ever one "wakes up" (home or away), starting the day off on a solid foot. Finally, having a "home" for the little things (i.e. keys, wallet, etc) which can have huge impact on the flow of a day, keeping stress levels low when in a time crunch. For example, the kids have to be at school but the car keys have gone missing . . .

However, for the times when life completely takes one by surprise. . .take a deep breathe and exhale. . .the simply act of inhalation and exhalation naturally relaxes the body and mind, typically allowing focus and clarity to take over most stressful situations.

All the best ~ Jenn