The Optimist SA Squad recently held a 2 week high performance camp in Richards Bay with top international coach, Miguel Andrade from Viana Sailing in Portugal.
Miguel was a hit with the kids and parents, great progress was made by all. His attention to detail and the ‘little things’ was amazing. The camp focused on rigging and boat set up, upwind speed (incl tacking), downwind speed (incl gybing), mark roundings, starts, strategy, tactics and a brief session on team racing.
The overall theme across all disciplines was to minimize use of the rudder and control the boat with active mainsheet trim and co-ordinated body movements. A great deal of time was spent on video analysis to help the sailors to get into the best positions for the different points of sail and maneuvers. Other important takeaways included ‘no flapping’ the sail, adjustment of the sprit on the fly and sail and bail techniques.
Miguel placed a strong emphasis on fitness. Each day ended with a challenging fitness routine and his parting comment to the sailors on the last day was to work on their fitness.
There was a visible improvement in the kids sailing during the week and Miguel stressed that although we come from a small country sailing wise, our kids are no different to the best optimist sailors in the world. The difference is the work that is put in. To be the best there needs to be many hours of drilling and perfecting techniques, sacrificing other activities and learning to eliminate mistakes on the race course. The best sailors always start in the front row, they never luff / flap the sail, they don’t hit the lay lines too early and the adjust their sail set up at the windward and leeward marks.
The sailors are looking forward to testing their skills in the European Champs in June and African Champs in August. Thanks to Miguel Andrade, Zululand Yacht Club, Jeanne Stanley and Jeremy McLaughlin for making the camp happen.