If you want to do better out on the race course, you could buy yourself a newer, more competitive boat. Or sail with a better crew. Or could buy some new sails. Or put in some practice. But keelboat crews frequently forget that one of the best value methods is to employ a coach. A coach can optimise practice time, provide detailed analysis via both stats and video, can examine specific issues, plus imparting experience and advice about boat and sail trim, mark rounding manoeuvres and techniques, boat set-up and so much more.
For competitors in the RORC Easter Challenge, over 14-16th April, the Royal Ocean Racing Club lays on coaching, both on the water and with detailed ‘post match’ analysis, FOR FREE. And this comes from some of the world’s top coaches with backgrounds in the America’s Cup and Olympic Games.
RORC Racing Manager Nick Elliott observes: “In our sport, apart from when you first learn to sail, often you don’t get any further coaching. You wouldn’t dream of trying to get to the top of any other sport without joining a club that provided coaching and support for its athletes. It is bizarre that sailing hasn’t embraced coaching in the same way.”
As is tradition, the RORC Easter Challenge kicks off the club’s domestic program with three days of inshore racing on the Solent starting on Good Friday and culminating with a chocolate egg-laden prizegiving on Easter Sunday. While the regatta offers crews the chance to blow away the winter cobwebs, it is also, uniquely, the RORC’s annual ‘training regatta’.
In particular RRS rule 41 ‘Outside Help’ is relaxed for this event, so, for example, during a race it is permitted to invite a coach on board if a more hands-on approach is required. Equally during a race a trimmer could, for example, hop off their boat on to one of the many coach RIBs to examine the trim from off their boat.
If there are any specific issues a team wants the coaches to look at, they can either ask while out on the water or can submit a request to the RORC in advance.
Each day after racing, there is an extensive standing room only debrief held at the RORC Cowes Clubhouse, where the coaches provide analysis of the day’s racing for the benefit of all.
The RORC is laying on world class coaches for the Easter Challenge, the team led by the legend Jim Saltonstall, MBE, a man who has played a significant role in honing the skills of so many British Olympians from the like of Sir Ben Ainslie down. He is joined by the RORC’s CEO, Eddie Warden Owen, who aside from being an accomplished sailor is a past America’s Cup coach for Team New Zealand and Desafio Español.
North Sails will again support the regatta with their North U. Regatta Services, providing on the water coaching, including aerial video analysis. The North Sails team will be also be providing detailed weather forecasts and an overnight sail repair service.
A regular RORC Easter Challenge competitor is Robert Hunt, who returns with wife Rachel this year aboard a J/97, Jumblesail 2, they acquired last season.
“Sometimes it just refreshes and reminds you of the things you learned last season, which you might have forgotten!” explains Robert Hunt of the Easter Challenge coaching. “Obviously when you have a new boat, it is about learning things specific to that boat. Mainly we’ll be looking at a combination of upwind trim and manoeuvres round marks.
“The video analysis back on shore is excellent as you can see all the embarrassing errors you’ve made…in front of everyone else! The coaching is a good mix of having serious intent to it, without it feeling too serious.”
Another team competing at the RORC Easter Challenge while still learning the ropes will be that of the Ker 46 Lady Mariposa. According to skipper Dan Hardy: “Just after we got the boat in 2015, we went down to Palma to learn how to sail the boat, because our team is very new to a grand prix boat. The previous Lady Mariposa was an Oyster 625 – so this is somewhat of a change!”
This will be the team’s first Easter Challenge and Hardy says they keen to make use of the coaching leading into a busy season including both inshore and offshore races such as the IRC Nationals and Rolex Fastnet Race.
The RORC Easter Challenge and its coaching opportunities are open to all entrants, not just RORC members. Nick Elliott extends the invite: “It is not often that you can get on the water coaching and certainly not at the level of Eddie and Jim and the North Sails team. So if you want to get ahead of your competitors – come and do the Easter Challenge! Why would you not come and benefit from FREE coaching. It is a bit of a no brainer really.”
The first warning signal each day will be at 1030.
Further information: http://www.rorc.org/
Image © RORC/Paul Wyeth – pwpictures.com