Less than 800 days remain until the opening ceremonies in Rio De Janeiro, and already the pressure is on to prepare. Zach and I arrive today at Schiphol Amsterdam Airport for another stint of concentrated European training with the world’s best. In less than 48 hours we will have left our respective homes stateside to drive our equipment from the storage facility in Amsterdam to Santander, Spain. We have made training in Europe, and especially Santander, a priority over the next four months so we have a proper balance between practices and races. Many of our supporters often ask us if we enjoy our time sailing and traveling throughout the world, and I respond with mixed emotions. Without a doubt, we are privilege to see and experience the world, but we are in the pursuit of the acme of sport performance, which leaves us with few days to fully take advantage of our circumstance. Of course, experiencing different cultures means different foods are available, or not, and we have mixed emotions about this too! We try to always keep a few items on us just in case.
For the next two weeks, Zach and I will be training in Santander, Spain which will host the 2014 ISAF Combined World Championships and the battle royal for Olympic country qualification. Having experienced a similar qualification regatta at the 2012 49er World Championships, we understand the importance and subsequent drama an event like this can have. It is our hope that our familiarity with the venue will help to give us a mental edge to get the job done and qualify the United States in September. Santander is a “heavy” venue in terms of the sea state we can expect. Swells can easily reach 2+ meters in combination with a “washing machine” like sea state on a few race circles. During our time training here this month, we will focus on sailing in these tough sea conditions.
As part of our 2014 goal, we are also expanding our knowledge by contracting coaches for specific needs. Unlike other Olympic classes, the 49er is a relatively new class and has several distinct developments over the course of its history. Boats sailed at the 2008 Olympic Games are almost completely different than the boats sailed in London just four years later; notably, the mast went from carbon and aluminum with a round-top main to a full carbon mast with a square-top main. As such, there are very few 49er experts for private hire since the best ones are the sailors we compete against! Creative thinking, thanks to a few of you, has helped us narrow down some talented coaches, but their fees come at a premium. We need your support to help us round out this coaching budget!
From Santander, Zach and I travel north to Kiel, Germany for one of our favorite events: Kieler Woche Regatta. This will be our first regatta together since the 2013 World Championships last September and an opportunity for us to dust off the cobwebs. 49er sailing is fun, but competition is what we live for! Looking forward to visiting with the Block Family during our time there!
More to come on our training and travels once we are settled in Santander.