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Big Fleet Regattas - Chicken and Egg

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Dougaldog View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Dougaldog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Aug 19 at 12:36pm
David (Yacht),

I think you've hit the nail squarely on the head! Back in the day things were also far less specialised, so the 'go to' crews often found that they could be in the 5o5.... then do a weekend in the front of the FD, or the Tornado, then be back in time for the next big open. As you pointed out, the gulf wasn't there as was wonderfully demonstrated when our multi medal winning FD sailor came to the Merlin nationals and didn't exactly excite the scorers. Ditto some of the hot hems who dipped into the 5o5 class and found that it was a hard school, some of which might have been a function of being able to build a winning score in a 100 + boat fleet. Coming bang up to date, I think we've had the same sort of conversations with the same sort of sailors, the most recent (of mine) being reminded that it was much easier to have that front of the fleet focus when you didn't have a small family and work waiting.
As to the ill-advised (there are other less than complimentary terms) comment about the Merlins being 'pathetic', I've both been RO and media for Finn events and the performance of the front runners is indeed 'stellar' - but then there is also quite a long tail of sailors who are either less well supported/funded or less well advanced along the path towards greatness and are not just mortal, but medium mortal at that.
Not only is that gulf wider, but everything I can see suggests that it will grow wider still. One can but wonder if this is not something of a policy these days - to develop and support a small, feted elite and leave the rest of the sport, the grassroots, to fend for itself!

D
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davidyacht View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote davidyacht Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Aug 19 at 2:23pm
I think that we can philosophise on this point.  I remember doing an Arun Merlin Silver Tiller many years ago as a nipper where we arrived at the windward mark ahead of Phil Crebbin and the Mayor of Lymington, this highlighted to me that one of the joys of our sport is that along the journey anyone can turn up and compete with the very best ... there are few other sports where this is the case.

The Merlins in particular continue to attract top talent, including those from the Olympic circus, and this seems to do nothing to detract from the appeal of the class, I suspect that those at the front enjoy the opportunity to measure themselves against the very best, and those at the back are happy to at least rub shoulders with Olympians.

A bonus, and relevant to the OP, is that having completed a week of starting in a ďhotĒ fleet, having a good start in a club race is so much easier!
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Late starter View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Late starter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Aug 19 at 10:44pm
Some good posts from davidyacht. I recall doing the regional squad training weeks back in the day, and I think me and my pals learned more in a week from professional coaches such as Jim Saltonstall than in a year of doing club racing and the open circuit. So god knows how good the professional guys are who do this for a living. BTW Jim's top teaching tip was that the start was 70% of a race, so his training was to give us start after start after start etc. Amazing how good you can get if you spend a week doing 20 or so starts a day !   
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Post Options Post Options   Quote davidyacht Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Aug 19 at 7:07am
Late Starter makes a good point, only in a comparatively late stage in my sailing career have I engaged with coaches, we have tried to get a top coach to help our fleet on an annual basis, and I have learnt a huge amount that I wish I had known at the start of my dinghy sailing career.

If I were Ian Walker trying to reengage grass roots dinghy sailing I would be looking to how to make first class coaching part of the everyday adult dinghy racing activity.   If you participate in any other major sport ... tennis, football, golf, skiing ... adult coaching is part of the set up.  

With dinghy racing you have to out of your way to find a coach and persuade them to come to your club for a single day.  Given that dinghy racing is so complex coaching would seem essential to keeping everyone engaged.

I appreciate that the RYA have coaching programmes in place, but somehow these have not found their way into adult racing at the clubs that I know.
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JimC View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote JimC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Aug 19 at 7:39am
To play devil's advocate, if we introduce widespread coaching so the gulf between the regulars and the beginners and folks who can only get out once a month is even wider, will that help or harm participation?

It seems to me that the average person is far less likely to be able to commit regular time to the sport than they used to be, so initiatives that require greater commitment may be counter productive.

Edited by JimC - 24 Aug 19 at 7:43am
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Post Options Post Options   Quote sargesail Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Aug 19 at 12:25pm
Having been involved in coaching and organising coaching at club level and class level I have found that the problem is often not finding the coaches but finding the sailors willing to be coached. Itís really weirds when compared with other sports....eg tennis lessons anyone?

The good news is that itís the beginners who have been more willing to take it up...which does help close the gap. The challenge then can be finding coaches willing to deliver at that level rather than the more experienced coach refusers who are happy to pass on their bad habits!
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Post Options Post Options   Quote salmon80 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Aug 19 at 12:33pm
Originally posted by sargesail

Having been involved in coaching and organising coaching at club level and class level I have found that the problem is often not finding the coaches but finding the sailors willing to be coached. Itís really weirds when compared with other sports....eg tennis lessons anyone?

The good news is that itís the beginners who have been more willing to take it up...which does help close the gap. The challenge then can be finding coaches willing to deliver at that level rather than the more experienced coach refusers who are happy to pass on their bad habits!

Sure I know I've not had coaching much of my sailing life, in fact Im mostly self taught. I think I'd be a nightmare student!
 


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Post Options Post Options   Quote salmon80 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Aug 19 at 12:36pm
Originally posted by Dougaldog

David (Yacht),

I think you've hit the nail squarely on the head! Back in the day things were also far less specialised, so the 'go to' crews often found that they could be in the 5o5.... then do a weekend in the front of the FD, or the Tornado, then be back in time for the next big open. As you pointed out, the gulf wasn't there as was wonderfully demonstrated when our multi medal winning FD sailor came to the Merlin nationals and didn't exactly excite the scorers. Ditto some of the hot hems who dipped into the 5o5 class and found that it was a hard school, some of which might have been a function of being able to build a winning score in a 100 + boat fleet. Coming bang up to date, I think we've had the same sort of conversations with the same sort of sailors, the most recent (of mine) being reminded that it was much easier to have that front of the fleet focus when you didn't have a small family and work waiting.
As to the ill-advised (there are other less than complimentary terms) comment about the Merlins being 'pathetic', I've both been RO and media for Finn events and the performance of the front runners is indeed 'stellar' - but then there is also quite a long tail of sailors who are either less well supported/funded or less well advanced along the path towards greatness and are not just mortal, but medium mortal at that.
Not only is that gulf wider, but everything I can see suggests that it will grow wider still. One can but wonder if this is not something of a policy these days - to develop and support a small, feted elite and leave the rest of the sport, the grassroots, to fend for itself!

D

I've already retracted my unusual and inaccurate choice of words. What I mean was one team has utterly dominated the merlins and they are not at Olympic level
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Post Options Post Options   Quote DiscoBall Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Aug 19 at 2:59pm
Originally posted by sargesail

I have found that the problem is often not finding the coaches but finding the sailors willing to be coached.

Originally posted by sargesail

The good news is that itís the beginners who have been more willing to take it up...which does help close the gap.


It's one of those quirks of outdoor sports that involve lots of kit - between the variability of the environment and the complexity of the kit there is always plenty of room for excuses (aka PY :) ) and retail therapy instead of admitting you need to practice more.  Wink

I don't really get the aversion, whenever I've done class training or had coaching it has been arguably as much fun, maybe more fun than actual racing. As there's nothing riding on the outcome you are more relaxed and you're probably always going to come away a better sailor than you were at the start of the day.

In an ideal world the club setup would be something along the lines of one weekend a month was race\series and the other three were training days. This would still be far higher competition to training ratio than in most other sports, but as noted above, this isn't something many of the old hands of the sport would tolerate...

There was a post on SA about this club - https://www.mooredalesailing.com/Race-Training - apparently 50 boat OD club racing fleet (in Albacores) . The setup seems like training is more central to the operation - rather than a racing focused UK sailing club where it often seems any RYA training is viewed as just a short term means to get people just good enough to limp round the course (and then often understandably give up after a year or two...).

The basics are 90% of the battle. I was going through some old video of a gusty N12 open yesterday - long shots taken from ahead of the fleet a minute or two after the start. The steady gradation from the '5 degree windward heel' of the multiple national champ at the front to the 'side-deck in the water at all times' at the back is as clear as day.





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RS400atC View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote RS400atC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Aug 19 at 3:50pm
Originally posted by salmon80

.....

I've already retracted my unusual and inaccurate choice of words. What I mean was one team has utterly dominated the merlins and they are not at Olympic level


Bithell has an Olympic medal to his name and has won the worlds in an Olympic class.
Currently touted as a prospect for Gold at Tokyo 2020, so I'm guessing he gets a fair amount of time on the water.
Looks like Olympic level to me.

Although his scoreline was fairly dominant, he was not unbeaten.
4 firsts out of 8 races, no bad results.
The kinds of time spreads between say first and tenth did not seem very long compared to the spreads between medallists and also-rans in the Olympic circus.

Nick Craig and Toby Lewis have just won the B14 Worlds with an impressive scoreline, yet they 'only' came 4th in the Merlins with 10 or so teams giving them a run for their money.
There is IMHO, a serious depth of talent in the fleet.
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