So… here you go. Finally after months of uncertainty we are back at work, and Finns are training hard here in Valencia. Looking back at the Rio olympics… memories are mixed, surely to have sailors that adopted the Dinghy Academy training system win five out of ten races and a silver medal and a ninth was a great success, though hungarian Szombor and uruguagian Foglia underperformed. And so a lot of hard work did not bring the expected result, why?, well any defeat carries a story as well as any victory, but in general always the emotional approach to the Games is the one that makes the difference. So we have Giles Scott , five weeks prior to the Games off social networks, fully focused and with his stereotype answers to the press that transfer next to zero emotions… only to explode once reached the result with one day to spare out in the ocean in front of Copacabana.
You have Vasilij Zbogar, completely isolated in his own world and able to clinch silver at age 42, that back home enjoyed a serious series of parties, after what was one really unbelievable performance, and you have those who could not control their mind and did not as good as they could. Sure training is a key, but when you can win races in the Games you could potentially win the regatta… Sailing the Finn is a real challenge for body and mind, as juts a small change in attitude can determine such substantial changes in results. Those who won have to decide if they have the desire to try again, those who lost, learned the lesson from Rio, have to see how to get sharper under pressure and start training harder than before, not trying to find excuses and looking hard at themselves to see how to improve. Can they get better by changing the coach, the training system, the way they run their campaign? If they believe so, they should go and change, but make long term plans as the challenge is tough.
At Dinghy Academy we are back at work and we have a new team of youngsters. Facundo Olezza, now finally back full time training after all the usual post olympic glory and a first quite good show up at the Star Sailors League, able to win two races in Rio, and with a huge margin of improvement our new captain. Dinghy Academy has gone young, on the water tough old rooster Milan Vujasinovic is kicking ass and helping me coaching at times. All sailors here have either started recently to sail Finn coming form the Laser or trained here in the last quad. It will be quite difficult to do better than what we achieved in that last five years, as we had major medals every year and Zbogar winning the euros as well as ending up twice second and once third and clinching a silver at the Games. Ondra Teply winning the junior worlds and scoring there also a second and a third, Szombi Berecz second at last year euros, Milan third… Surely the new training concept we adopt works, though now we are starting again, and Zbogar will race less and all athletes are young. It will not be easy but we will try, no real changes in the classic attitude here in Valencia.
All other classes are back at work. Some athletes went to the so called World Cup Final in Melbourne. Not very many due to the uncertanty cost and format, though the broadcasting is a reminder of how magic Mebourne waters are. We need to come up with a different format. For remote venues like Melbourne, we need a fleet of charter boats and race in heats and get as many sailing as we can. Melbourne being one of the best sailing venues all around, Australia a country that is tollerant, magic and loves sailing, a must for all sailors to visit, as sailing is not only about winning, is about the experience, growing as a person, learning to take decisions, become a leader.
This racing in heats is not a difficult thing to organize, the broadcasting was interesting and I really enjoyed good commentators, even if Malcolm Page is a bit shallow for me. He surely will be a better technical director of the US Team than a commentator as he transmits no emotions and is always too worried about being politically correct and transferring the mantra he has been told to.
Two aspects of the sport emerged that we need to valorize: speed and fun, like with Nacras and Kitesurfing, close and fisical brutal combat like in the Finn medal race. The last leg, where Ed Wright manages to burn through Heiner, quite intense and good. Even if it was easy to see that Heiner is new in the boat and experienced Ed Wright passed him very easily, Heiner will surely become a good Finn sailor, he will be surprised though as he will get his ass kicked more than he will like. As he has choosen so far one old style approch to his campaign, going around the world mixing travelling and training, he will soon learn that training is better than travelling. Racing all the time will kill him instead of getting stronger, but surely he is smart and has plemty of time to learn.
Robert Scheidt is again going for it, in my opinion he has choosen the wrong boat as the 49er is a tough beast to handle. Reaction times are really fast, something that gets lost with age, the Nacra was much better for him, as Lange showed, cats are less impossible to race getting older though it will be fantastic to see him in the 49er, one of the toughest classes to crack. Scheidt will learn to deal with ageing. You can train as much as you want but the only thing you can do about ageing is to accept it. The likes of Elvstroem went through similar paths, sport at this level is inestricably connected to youth and so it should.