Planning for the upcoming youth regattas

But “old” people need to do this too. By Andrew Verdon.

This month sees the summer season gaining momentum with several youth regattas around the country as we build towards class nationals over the Christmas break, the Youth Nationals in January in Adelaide and possibly the 2010 ISAF Youth Worlds in Turkey.

So what can you do now to prepare for the events over January? I contacted two of Australia's most successful youth coaches and asked them what youth sailors should be focussing on now to prepare for
a successful season.

Belinda Stowell, a dual Olympian and Olympic Champion, is the coach of the very successful WAIS sailing program and has been a coach at the ISAF youth worlds and had several crew win medals including two gold.

Belinda's ideas:

1. With 12 weeks to go, you can make a big difference in your programming by carefully planning the balance between schoolwork – you need to be smart to sail well – and your sailing training and other lifestyle commitments. Give each one the right amount of time.

2. With this plan, you have time to make a big improvement in your fitness. Work on aerobic fitness – bike, run, swim and all the other fun stuff, together with playing ball games at school sport – and some strength work. Make sure you include some core work to look after your back. Your general fitness will be the key to being able to train well for sailing without injury. It will also be a huge aid to the concentration required for three good races on the water.

3. Plan your sailing time. Make the most of each condition you train in, and then you can tick off all the parts of your racing training – tacks, gybes, spinnaker work, as well as the steering and balance to help you sail fast, because that is the most fun. It is less fun if you are upside down watching your buddies sail quickly past!

Adrian Finglas is the Queensland High Performance Program Coach and has coached at three youth worlds including the 2009 Youth worlds in Brazil as well the 2008 Olympic Games with the Australian Sailing Team.

Adrian's thoughts:

1. The critical thing at the Youth level is always to perfect the basic skills of tacking and gybing, spinnaker up and down. If these skills are perfected in all weather conditions the athlete can then play the chess game at a higher level.

2. Youth athletes need to take the fitness element very seriously – 15 year old swimmers train twice a day with 3 hour sessions. That's more than 30 hours a week. Sailors are no different. If you are serious about your sailing get out there, train the house down and have FUN .

Can you see some common themes here in these answers? And each coach answered completely separately from the other! So get time on the water and time off it to work on your sailing and physical training.

My tip:

Some of the best youth sailors I have seen are very good at planning and fitting everything into their lives – school, exams, family commitments, part time work, friends and training sessions. The very best are able to fit all this in and still have some down time to relax and enjoy life. The key is to plan your days, weeks, months and season.

January may seem a long way off but it is only around 12 weeks so get the plan together now and get it happening!

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