Patience & Resilience Through Another Injury
Unfortunately our training in Buenos Aires in February was cut short by injury. On the fifth day of training since the Miami World Cup, I broke my middle metacarpal in my right hand while sailing. I flew from Buenos Aires to Colorado Springs, CO for surgery to insert a permanent titanium plate.
The USOC and their National Medical Network provided outstanding care, including a week at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs after surgery, where I started physical therapy and used technology to bring the swelling down as fast as possible. I have to say, the whole process was too familiar, having had carpal tunnel release surgery on both hands by the same surgeon there and also staying at the OTC for a week in August 2015. Working out in the gym there is always inspiring and motivating!
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I focused on putting the frustration and disappointment of a second Gulari/Scutt team injury aside, instead channeling my energy into getting back on the water safely as soon as possible. During the time at home I focused on: physical therapy, rest, nutrition to heal the bone, workouts, extra exercises to avoid imbalances after injury, sport psychology, and fundraising and logistics so that upcoming time in Europe could be focused on training and racing.
I also enjoyed three days volunteer-coaching a clinic for 12 Nacra 15s in Long Beach. The kids’ energy and excitement was contagious, and they said they learned as much in those 3 days as they had in a year of sailing the boat! Bora had a fun time speaking to elementary school kids in Detroit about the Olympics and acting on big dreams.
Less than 7 weeks after surgery we were able to get back on the water, this time in Barcelona. Although I had to wear a custom hand brace and make some compensations for the lack of grip strength in that hand, it was a huge relief - we were able to train! By being smart about the type and amount of training, we had no issues returning to training. We made big progress in speed in waves and downwind speed in our 7 days there. Then for a six hour drive to Hyeres, France...
Sailing World Cup Hyeres
During this regatta in the last week of April, we finished 22nd out of 30, which was not the result that we hoped to earn. We came away with a long list of things to work on, and we're excited to get to it. It was mostly a light-wind event, which we found tough, so we'll spend more time in those transitional conditions. On the last day we had medium breeze and really solid upwind speed. This was our second regatta as a team so we are still learning a lot about communication with each other. Most of all, we are happy to have been able to race after the injury, and it was exactly what we needed to diagnose weaknesses relative to other teams so we can work on them before the World Championships. This was our first regatta working with coach Mike Ingham, who is now the Nacra 17 squad coach for the US Sailing Team. His perceptiveness, knowledge, and dedication will serve us well!
Starting tomorrow we have two weeks of training in Long Beach, CA. Looking forward to logging hours on the water!
Our next regatta is the World Cup Final, June 3-10 in Marseille, France. All of our focus is on building up to the Aarhus World Championships that start Aug 5.
Thanks to the US Sailing Team, Futuramic, Bayview Yacht Club, the St Francis Sailing Foundation, All-Ways, Harken, and NE Ropes.
Sailing World Cup Miami 2018
Finally, we raced our first regatta together!
This year's Sailing World Cup Miami dealt us a variety of conditions from 4-7 knots on the first day to 20-25 knots during the medal race.
We were happy to have met our goal of finishing in the top 10 and qualifying for the medal race (results here) because of our limited practice time due to Bora's injury, however we are not satisfied because the ultimate goal is to win, of course.
In early January we had a full US Sailing Team camp with daily talks on weather, nutrition, Miami conditions, rules, and more. We also had to pack and ship a container to Argentina for our February training there. In the middle of the month we were able to race the Midwinter regatta as a warmup before the World Cup and also work in-person with our strength and conditioning coach Mike Kuschner of SPT. We enjoyed working with all 3 other US teams and Argentineans Santi Lange & Cecilia Carranza (Rio 2016 Gold medallists) during this period. Thanks to Jonathan McKee and Randy Smyth for coaching us during the regatta and the full month.
As our first event, we practiced racing communication and working out the kinks in that. Our starts were solid. We look forward to improving on our settings, downwind boatspeed, and boathandling especially.
New Sponsor: Ripple!
We're excited to announce our new sponsor, Ripple. It's pea milk (milk alternative made from yellow peas) and has the same amount of protein as milk. Very cool that Adam Lowry, a 49er sailor, Moth sailor, Detroiter, Stanford Sailing alumnus, and 505 World Champion is a co-founder!
Training in Buenos Aires
After a massive packup operation ("This pile is fly with to Argentina, this pile is ship to Europe in the container, this pile is drive with to Detroit...") and after a bit of Moth training, it was time to head south. A week and a half after the Sailing World Cup Miami wrapped up, Riley, Louisa, Bora and I were on a plane from Miami to Buenos Aires, Argentina. After a busy month of January in Miami, we were ready for a new venue, and of course with that came a new culture too. The Rio 2016 gold medallists in the Nacra 17, Santi Lange and Cecilia Carranza, invited us to train with them at Santi's yacht club in Buenos Aires, Argentina, called Club Nautico San Isidro (CNSI). The yacht club is a beautiful and enormous institution with 13,000 members. There are canals everywhere full of sailboats on boat sides. In fact, we commuted by coachboat from our rental house!
The best part is how many sail boats were out cruising every day (there are virtually no motorboats), enjoying the Rio de la Plata. El Rio looks like chocolate milk, it's brown from the sediment carried thousands of miles from Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay. It's the widest river in the world and only 2m deep!
Conditions changed gradually each day, allowing us to get distinct morning and evening sessions. Since the river is so shallow and can have strong current in either direction (it can be very wind driven), the chop can really stack up close together. This makes for challenging downwind foiling in the Nacra 17. Performance depends on dynamic weight movement fore and aft, in and out, and of course precise spinnaker and mainsheet trim. Every movement and change must be anticipated, otherwise you're already late. Foiling gybes are becoming more consistent for us, and through lots of short-course practice racing we are forced to make fast decisions in a fast boat even faster.
The main lesson to us, aside from our technique and sail/foil setup improvements, is from Santi and Ceci's energy towards sailing. Every time they step onto their Nacra, from pushing off the ramp to returning into the basin, they are sailing with an intensity like their life depends on it. An Olympic campaign can be a long road with lots of travel, long days, and seemingly tedious details. But as gold medallists (and three-time medalist, in Santi's case), they know that purposeful practice is all that matters at the end of the day. We are grateful to have them as role models, friends, training partners, and competitors.
After training one evening we enjoyed a traditional Argentinean barbecue (asado) and another evening we went to a local soccer match where the fans didn't stop jumping and singing for the whole game. Besides that, we were training so much that we didn't have the chance to explore the area much at all, but we hope to return for longer in the future.
The container with our boats will go from Buenos Aires to..... San Francisco! We look forward to using these boats on the Bay in May before they head to the 2020 Olympic venue in Japan for two events in September.
Next on the calendar is kicking off the European season. We start with training in Barcelona in early April and then Sailing World Cup Hyeres in Hyeres, France in late April.
Thanks to the US Sailing Team, Bayview Yacht Club, the St Francis Sailing Foundation, Futuramic, All-Ways, Harken, and NE Ropes.
January - After enjoying our trial sailing together so much, Bora and I teamed up on a mission for gold in Tokyo 2020. I spoke at the PNW Coaches' Clinic in Seattle and sailed 10 days on the 49erFX. Bora raced Key West Race Week with Quantum Racing (TP52) and raced Sailing World Cup Miami with another crew while I continued my Master's degree.
February - I did three weekends of redeyes in order to log time on the Nacra together in Miami and present the keynote at the US Sailing Programs Symposium on "Making Change and Paying It Forward". That was in Austin, Texas, and the next day I spoke at St Francis Yacht Club, in San Francisco. Bora kept his Moth sailing sharp at the Key Largo regatta.
March - Bora raced with Quantum Racing again in Miami, and then we had really productive Nacra training there with coach Mike Ingham. I finished another quarter at Stanford with an autonomous robot to show for it, and as soon as that wrapped up we were on a plane to the Netherlands (can you say, "Spring Break!" Sunny... not so much). We had our first week on a prototype foiling Nacra 17 which was our initial foiling experience together. We came away really happy as the first team to do foiling gybes on the Nacra 17!
April - Bora and I sailed the Nacra for two cold & wet weekends in Detroit, which was, in fact, my initiation to Midwest sailing. I enjoyed coaching an enthusiastic group of 29er sailors (the youth boat that I raced before college) at the CISA clinic in Long Beach, CA.
May - We logged another weekend in Detroit before Bora went to Italy for TP52 racing with Quantum Racing. We did a lot of summer prep work such as Bora shipping the container to Europe, meeting with our nutritionist, strength coach, sailing coach, a 3D body scan, a sponsor, and of course continuing workouts and physical therapy. There are lots of aspects to an Olympic sailing campaign!
June - After another Nacra training weekend, in the middle of the month I graduated with my Master's degree in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University. Phew! Finishing this degree signified not just the end of those studies but also the beginning of another full-time Olympic campaign, and I was raring to go (read: daydreaming of sailing... often)!
July - After collecting our new foiling Nacra 17 from the Netherlands (of the first batch in the world) we began our training in Lake Garda, Italy. It's a stunning location and we were able to log a lot of hours with coach David Howlett and training partners Riley and Louisa (USA) and Santi and Ceci (Rio 2016 gold medallists from ARG).
August - We continued training in Lake Garda, Italy, and then moved to Barcelona, Spain to experience a different sea state. Then we made our way up the coast to to La Grande Motte, near Marseille, France. Unfortunately just five days before the World Championships began, we had a bad crash (pitchpole) and during it, parts of three of Bora's fingers were completely cut off. It was, of course, shocking and disappointing, but I saw so much determination, persistence, and passion in my new teammate.
September - I stayed in France to watch and learn from the World Championships that we weren't able to sail. Bora immersed himself in the rehab and healing process which takes a lot more time and resolve than people may realize.
October - I spent a lot of time in Detroit with Bora, at the gym together and preparing our boat to be its best. Then I sailed the Enoshima Olympic Week regatta in Enoshima, Japan, which is the 2020 Olympic sailing venue. It is an amazing place. I sailed the 49erFX with a skipper from my hometown and we both enjoyed racing and getting to know Japanese culture.
November - Bora and I did some Moth sailing and then we were ready to get back in the Nacra for the first time since the accident. Success! Incredible mental strength by Bora. We attended a US Sailing Team camp (fitness and medical testing, meetings, psychology and team building, etc.) at the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs (see video below) and then drove all night from Michigan to Fort Walton Beach, FL, to start training there.
December - Thanks to the generosity of coach (and host!) Randy Smyth, we logged solid hours in northwestern Florida at Fort Walton Beach. It was cold but we achieved a lot with technique, settings, and boatwork before moving camp to Miami and taking a break for the holidays.
Thank you to everyone who supported us in our initial year as a team. 2017 certainly included a large and impactful challenge that few teams go through. We would particularly like to thank the US Sailing Team, Bayview Yacht Club, the St Francis Sailing Foundation, the Seattle Yacht Club Foundation, Futuramic, All-Ways, Harken, NE Ropes, and the Sailing Foundation of New York.
We look forward to 2018, doing what we love!