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Preparation for Racing
By Erik van Vuuren, Doublehanded Champion in both the United Kingdom and The Netherlands
Being crowned double-handed champion on both sides of the North Sea, I believe preparation is everything. Prior to every start of a race, have your step-by-step plan ready. The plan contains at least – The race course, the coordinates per leg, the distances per leg, including the true wind angles (TWA). – The expected choice of sails and expected maneuvers – And predictable important moments, for example, the turn of the tide, and which area is more beneficial. While racing, don’t forget to check the step-by-step plan you prepared!
During the UK Double Handed Nationals, adjusting the plan made us win races, and eventually crowned UK National Champions. The simple fact that the races started at a different timeslots than initially scheduled. With the new timeslots, also the local circumstances like the tides changed. And many of our competitors did not adjust their plan accordingly. Preparation and thinking steps ahead makes a real difference.
With our step-by-step plan in mind, we already attach sheets and halyard and prepare our spinnaker and Code 0 below deck. And it is all about timing and smart thinking in the maneuvers. Even if you’re just with two, we use every element we can, including our body weight (yes, also when sleeping below deck). Weight is an important detail that gives us extra speed gains in every championship or race. We hike with the ‘third’ crewmember, the auto pilot at the helm.
Understanding the settings very well, and continue to learn long-lists with windspeed, sea states, and mastsettings. In a manoeuvre, getting back to speed is priority number one. We train a lot and do not loose from fully crewed teams. We extensively mark sheets, halyards and trimlines, which allows us to trim to speed instantly in a manoeuvre. So simple and very effective.
Getting back to speed in an instance has nothing to do with muscles and testosteron and everything with timing. And a living evidence is my double handed partner, Yvonne Beusker. Doping on board to improve concentration? Yes, absolutely and we call it water. Losing a bit of concentration you loose a lot in a race. The bottles of water are always within reach. A true secret weapon. With any race, and also double handed racing, a good position on the starting line is key!