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Sailing in the Australian Summer

Since the ISAF Sailing World Championships in September much has happened. My contract with the Australian Sailing Squad was renewed and because of this I had to relocate to Sydney for some time. My time spent in the team house was awesome and I was effectively living my dream, sailing full time and getting better every day. Then, about two weeks from the start of the first event of the summer, Arthur gave me a call to tell me he would be training the current world champion, Dutchman Nicholas Heiner, in Perth and invited me to join in. I couldn’t say no to that offer and jumped on a plane to spend a week in Perths warm sun and windy weather. The training was great and I felt well prepared to have a competitive summer.

Sail Sydney: The shortest of the three events, Sail Sydney is only run over three days but is packed full with 3 races a day. We had a great mix of sailors competing with a lot of international competitors joining in. The weather was great and we only lost one race out of the 9 race program. I had my opportunities to take out the event but I just couldn’t keep my scores consistent enough when I needed to. I placed 2nd overall, a result I wasn’t fully satisfied with but gave me confidence leading into Melbourne.

Sail Melbourne: This is the biggest sailing event that Australia hosts each year and means a lot to the athletes as this is worth maximum points going towards your world ranking. I was really lucky in where I got to stay as well, doing a house share overlooking the water with some very nice people. It’s not every day I get to stay in such an amazing place so I felt pretty good. Unfortunately my day one really didn’t go to plan with two big scores placing me back in 18th in the 40 strong fleet. I had to dig deep after that and chipped away, somehow finding myself in 6th place after the third day of racing. Having big scores on the card is always going play catch up with you though and I was lucky to finish in 10th place meaning I would get to race in my second ever medal race. I could still place 7th if things went my way in the double points race and after a great pin end start I thought it was going to happen. However it wasn’t to be and I had to settle finishing  10th overall.

Australian Laser Nationals:  After the Christmas break it was time to compete in the final event of the summer and it turned out to be a perfect week. Sunny, windy and great waves, Mandurah really turned it on for those brave enough to get out there. The event was a bit of a learning curve for me as I lacked my normal speed in the breeze at the start of the week and I had to try and solve the puzzle of why that was. As the week went on I did steadily improve and it was great to play around at the front of the fleet for a while, even if I couldn’t keep Tom or Matt away. I had to settle for 4th at the end of the week by the narrowest of margins to Ryan but in all it was a really fun week.

After the craziness of coaching the Opti nationals things have settled down and I’m back into routine training hard and working on the weaknesses that the summer events highlighted. Soon I’ll be back in Sydney preparing for a very long European season so I’m making the most of the warm sun while I have it. I would like to say thanks to my coaches Arthur Brett, Belinda Stowell and Michael Blackburn for getting me through another tough Australian summer of racing and I would like to say a massive thankyou to Fremantle Sailing Club, Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club, WAIS and Australian Sailing for their ongoing support of me and the sport of sailing in general.

See you on the water,

Luke Elliott – aka Swifto

 

Training, travel and coming home

So it’s time to get back into this blog. Basically Europe was one massive learning experience and I’m looking forward to applying what I’ve gained from the first half of the year going on into the second. Once I got back from Europe I finally got to go home. It had been 9 months since I had last been to my home town of Esperance and even though my visit was only a week long it was the most relaxed I had been in a while. I even got a surf in.

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The view from the Esperance lookout

The trip home was followed by a plane to Sydney for a week long training camp with the rest of the Australian Team. The week was super productive and it was awesome to get back in the boat after the break and catch up with my friends. Shout out to Ash Brunning for letting me crash at his house for the week.

 

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Training on Sydney Harbour

When I got back to Perth I got straight into a good training block. It was great to get some solid routines going and almost find some normality and stability in my day. All too soon it was broken up though as another adventure was on the horizon. I had been announced as the Australian 4.7 Worlds Team coach and would be flying to Karatsu, Japan for the job.

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Morning training ride with a view

Now that I’m in Japan I can honestly say it is the most unusual country I have ever been to out of all my travels. My host can’t speak a word of english but is super friendly and serves the most amazing japanese style breakfasts. Everyone is really polite and the architecture is unique to anything I have ever seen. The training with the team has been really productive and the only setback has been the typhoon that is currently battering the coast. Hopefully we can start on schedule tomorrow as planned.

Breakfast!
Breakfast!

I’ll keep you posted with my movements a bit more as I return to Europe all too soon.

Cheers,

Swifto

A new post

Yeah so not really sure what happened for a few months there but this blog sort of broke. Anyway it’s back up now so all good. Basically I’ve been in Italy for a while training on Lake Garda then went to Croatia for a couple of weeks to compete in the European Championships. I’ll post a proper report soon but for now I’ll leave you with this teaser. P1050866

Sailing, sun & a steep learning curve

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Racing on day four of competition

 

ISAF Sailing World Cup, France is well and truly over now and I think it’s time for an update. The regatta consisted of two days of qualification and three days of racing in finals to make a total of 11 races in a very strong 120 boat fleet. The weather really turned it on for us and we raced in a wide range of conditions but it’s safe to say most of it was hiking quality.

The first two days of the regatta were really good and despite making some errors in my races I felt content with the way I conducted myself on the water and I found some good consistency to place myself in 29th overall after 5 races. Unfortunately that is were the party ended as I entered into my second golf fleet finals series for the season. My first day was a shocker with two very poor starts leading to two massive scores on the board.

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Emotions run high when racing. Sometimes you need a vent but maybe next time I won’t use my tiller 🙁

I rallied a little the next day with a 23rd in race 3 of finals but backed it up with a dead last. Having said that the current Olympic silver medalist was just in front of me so it’s hard to feel too bad. The final day of the regatta saw lots of tired faces as we hit the water. It had been a long, hard regatta. I had a mid fleet result in the first race and to top off my awful finals series I got a BFD (Back Flag Disqualification) in the last race of the regatta, meaning I was over the start line when the gun went. I finished 49th overall.

The day after the regatta we all packed up and I was lucky enough to go out on a coach boat and watch the medal race (the top ten in the regatta do a final race to determine the winner) and saw teammate Tom Burton take the lead from New Zealands Andy Maloney. A day later we were on the road and driving to Italy. Stay tuned for updates.

The French Riviera and my second event

 

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Old castle I went past on one of my morning rides

Once I arrived in Hyeres and settled into my accommodation things went back to normal pretty quick.  I did 5 days on water training in a range of conditions and 3 maintenance rides to keep myself in shape and not lose all the hard earned cycling fitness I gained in Spain. Today was my final day on the water after a good rest day yesterday and I am really looking forward to the regatta starting tomorrow. For those that don’t know the ISAF World Cup, France is probably the biggest and most prestigious event on the world tour with over 1300 athletes here to compete. I am as prepared as I can be so now I can really enjoy the racing ahead and hopefully have a really fun event. 😀

Cycle camp and leaving Palma

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Up in the clouds halfway through one of our rides

So after a long regatta I enjoyed a brief rest soaking in the sunny Palma weather and playing a few rounds of mini golf with some of my friends. I then went straight into the annual cycle camp that the Australian team has done for a few years now. I got a head start and did a day of climbing by myself before joining the rest of the bunch as they started a day later. Cycle camp isn’t just for Australians though as we had sailors from Sweden, Portugal, Ireland, Estonia, New Zealand and Belgium all joining in on the riding. Safe to say the hardest day was the third day on the bike where we completed and epic 120 km of riding and 3000 m worth of climbing. It was a long day for everyone with nearly 6 hours spent in the saddle. We all ended up getting lost in one way or another and I think everyone was on the brink of giving up at one point or another. Eventually we all made it back with epic stories to tell.

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Post regatta mini golf session, a long standing tradition between AUS & NZL laser teams

We got a good three extra days in the boat prior to leaving Palma before the hectic scramble of packing up equipment, room and van and hopping on the midnight ferry back to Barcelona. A poor nights sleep spent on a hard chair followed by a long drive wasn’t a great combo but safe to say we were all happy to get to Hyeres, France for the our second event on the ISAF Sailing World Cup. We had a bit of a mix up with accommodation and didn’t have anywhere to stay for two nights but luckily we managed to find spare beds with the rest of the Australian Team before checking into our apartment yesterday. Now just training hard and looking forward to the beginning of the biggest World Cup on the calendar year starting this Monday. Yeeeewww!

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Jezza’s chilli con carn going down well on our first night in our apartment in France

 

ISAF World Cup, Finals Series

Pre-regatta training
Pre-regatta training
So quite quickly my first event of this 100 day adventure is over. The final 3 days in gold fleet went really quickly and were always jam packed from start to finish so keeping you all informed was almost impossible. Now I have some time to give you a recap on the events that occurred.
Tom and Ash waiting around
Tom and Ash waiting around

Day 3 was a complete wash out. We waited around on land for a few hours, then got on the water and waited around for another couple of hours. Then the wind finally did come in but it was too shifty to start a race in. Eventually we got a start away only to have the race abandoned. 5 hours on water and not a race to show for it. Safe to say it was tiring.

Strong winds on day 4!  I'm some where in there
Strong winds on day 4! I’m some where in there

Day 4 was on from the beginning. Cold and windy with big wind shifts, rain and some of the largest swell I have ever sailed in. This would normally be my favorite conditions because its what I normally sail in back home and I love to work hard. This day though I just couldn’t get it right. I seemed to be on the wrong side of every shift even when my starts were good. My experience in top level big fleet racing is still limited and while I can definitely say I learnt a lot, I felt really disappointed with myself at the end of the day. I know I could have done better. Still, even when I am having bad results I still enjoy what I do and the epic waves we got to surf on the way in made the whole day worth it.

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Room mate Mitchy leading race 10

Final day of racing saw another new wind direction but yesterdays old swell was still hanging around. It created some really shifty and variable conditions with the wind blowing straight from the mountains. I had a good start in the first race but with the wind so up and down it was hard to consolidate it. The second race the wind became really light for the start and I got myself in a bit of a sticky situation with Robert Scheidt (the regatta leader) sitting just below me. We both had poor races which turned out to be UFD’s anyway, meaning we were caught over the start and disqualified. My final race, and the last race for the regatta was, at last, a good one. I had a good start and got the first shift correct to round the top mark in 4th and held onto 6th in the race. If only I could of had a few more of those.

In all the regatta was a lot of fun and I learnt heaps. I finished 45 overall. I was aiming a bit higher but the result definitely shows a big improvement on last year and shows that even when I’m not sailing my best I can still compete with the top guys. Now It’s recovery time before hitting up a big week of cycling in the mountains. Can’t wait.

World Cup Palma, Day 2

DSCF0002Waiting for wind. A classic past time for any sailor and yesterday was another day to add to the memories. Spent most of the day in our apartment waiting for the AP signal to drop. Luckily it did and at 3.30 pm we all scrambled to get our gear together to hit the water. I was in Blue fleet again which gave me a bit of time to get organized before starting race 4. We had a really shifty and gusty 5 – 10 knots for both races and I knew consistency was going to be key to success with a big result already on the score board and only one drop.

First race I was away at the pin end and I was looking quite good but I just wasn’t patient enough for the final left hand shift and ended up rounding the top mid fleet. A good run and second beat saw me jump up to top ten only to watch myself lose it again on the final reach and run. Grrrrrr. Frustration. I finished 17th. In the second race the wind started to get really shifty but luckily for me I had spotted the new pressure on the right and was at the boat end. Unfortunately it didn’t matter because it didn’t seem to matter where you went on the beat as long as you came in from hard either side of the course at the top. I was was back in the fleet rounding the top but again I drew on a strong second beat to pull me back into the race. I placed 24th. A reasonable day but definitely not what I was looking for, especially since I felt I had so many opportunities to do better. At Least I made gold fleet though and am currently sitting in 47th overall. Many very good sailors didn’t make the top 60. Now the real work begins 🙂

ISAF World Cup Palma

Just rolling around with Jez. Rest day

The six P’s. Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance. A more relevant statement could not be made when it comes to racing in Lasers. The lead in to this event has been long, having been away from home since the 9th of March, meaning I have done 3 weeks of travel and training without even doing a race. Long hours on the water and on the bike have put me in good shape though and after running around feeling a bit pressed for time in the measurement yesterday, finally, on the eve of the regatta I felt prepared. One thing a sailor can’t control though is the wind and we spent a good few hours waiting for it this morning. Luckily a light and very stable sea breeze developed allowing all 144 Lasers to complete 3 good races. I raced in the blue fleet and after a rattling first race, placing 42nd, I got my stuff together and placed 8th and 11th to put myself in 35th overall after day one. I’m happy that I managed to have a good come back from the first race and will just need to keep it solid tomorrow to qualify for the gold fleet. As a side note I’m super stoked for my training partner and room mate Jez (pictured above on the bike) for having a sick day and getting himself into 2nd overall. Good work bro! More racing tomorrow.