While it is always tempting to spend money on new sails or other go-faster widgets, coaching is often overlooked by amateur crews as a means of gaining boat speed through improved trim and set-up or just generally getting around the race course in a more efficient, slick manner.
One option is to hire your own coach. Another is to take part in the RORC’s UK season opener, the RORC Easter Challenge, taking place over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend (3rd to the 5th April), where some of the country’s leading experts will be on the water to offer crews advice. This might be general observations, but crews are also encouraged to ask the coaches to focus on any specific aspects they feel in need of attention. And all of this is FREE to competitors.
As always, the RORC Easter Challenge coaching team will be led by uber-coach Jim Saltonstall, ably assisted by RORC CEO and former America’s Cup coach Eddie Warden Owen, plus Mason King. After making their successful debut at the event last year, the Easter Challenge will also see the return of North U Regatta Services, represented by sailmaker/coaches Chuck Allen and Andreas Josenhans, who are flying across from the USA especially for the event.
Based out of North’s Rhode Island loft, Allen is a former two time college all-American champion and now a one design specialist while Josenhans, from Canada, is a two time Soling and Star World Champion, was a trimmer on Bill Koch’s America’s Cup winner, America3, and holds a lengthy, distinguished CV in elite level international yacht racing.
North U Regatta Services regularly attends regattas in the USA such as the NOOD series and Quantum Key West Race Week.
Like last year, Allen and Josenhans will also be joining Jim Saltonstall in the invaluable post-race debriefs, where they will be analysing each day’s action on the water aided by photos and video. Following the RORC’s merger with the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club in Cowes, these debriefs will this year take place in the new clubhouse and not in the Events Centre at Cowes Yacht Haven.
Making his debut at the RORC Easter Challenge is four time UK Match Racing Champion turned Figaro sailor Nick Cherry, with his 32ft Figaro Beneteau II, Redshift. This year Cherry is gunning to improve British results in the ultra-competitive Solitaire du Figaro, singlehanded offshore racing’s unofficial world championship and is making use of the coaching available at the Easter Challenge in his work-up.
“We get a lot of coaching in France, but it is always good to get some eyes off the boat and Jim Saltonstall’s feedback is always invaluable,” says Cherry, who admits that his first coaching from the eminent Saltonstall occurred at an Eric Twiname youth regatta when he was nine years old. “It is always entertaining to hear him talking, but he’s always got something useful to say. And people said the North U seminar was good last year. A lot of the sailing I do with the Redshift program involves sailing fully crewed and there are some different techniques to doing that. So to get some feedback on the techniques for that will definitely be helpful.”
Cherry adds that he is hoping that the coaching team will be able to give him some feedback on the new sails he’ll have on Redshift.
An Easter Challenge regular is also returning in the form of Mike Moxley and his crew on the HOD35 Malice, recently returned from having competed in the RORC Caribbean 600 on board a chartered boat.
For Moxley the free coaching at the Easter Challenge is one of the event’s prime attractions.
“It is incredibly useful. Unless you pay someone else to do it, you don’t get a professional coach coming up to you and looking, for example, at the sail set, the twist in the main, how the jib is set and the rig, etc. Also being able to take trimmers off the boat and on to a RIB, you get to see things from 30-40 metres away that often you can’t fully see from on the boat.
“It is very useful to have an expert actually taking you through different aspects of what you’re doing and telling you whether it is right, wrong or indifferent. In fact it is a bit disappointing when they come alongside and they say everything is okay and they head off to see someone else!”
The Easter Challenge is unique in the RORC calendar in that RRS 41 – Outside Help is waived to permit coaches to come on board during racing or, equally, crew to jump on to a coaching RIB to see their set-up from off the boat.
Crews looking for coaching are advised to let the RORC know in advance if there are any specific aspects of their sailing, sails or trim that they wish to have examined.