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Optimist Europeans- New Zealand Team reports from Hungary

by Sam McKenzie, Coach on 25 Jun 2013
NZ Optimust team launch in Hungary . ..

There hasn’t been much of an opportunity for the NZIODA European Team to sit down and enjoy the sunshine after an action packed last five days at Lake Balaton, Hungary.

After setting up their charter Optimists with their personalized gear the team has invested their time wisely but maximizing their time out on the water in attempt to learn and understand the waters of Lake Balaton.

Temperatures have been consistently in the mid thirties which has made hydration and sun block application crucial and an on going exercise for the team. The light winds have brought no relief. However the team is quickly becoming acclimatized.

Through my coaching connection in Helsinki, Finland, where I coached in May, the NZ Team and Finland Team shared the expense of a coach boat and as a result, the sailors from both teams have quickly become friends over the past few days, which has been really nice to see.

Over the past three days the team has competed in the Choco Cup, a 130 boat, 16 nation strong fleet. The team enjoyed the experience of high quality racing and learnt a lot from 7 tough races. The conditions where hard to understand with no clear patterns as the breeze shifted from left to right with no warning or indication. Day I and Day II saw a light W/ SW, with Day III an even more complicated NW wind.

The Kiwi’s persevered the challenging light winds and shifty conditions, improving throughout the regatta and understand what it took to be at the front of the fleet. The team’s primary focus for the regatta was starting.

The sailors struggled to get off the line, where the likes of Finland, Germany and Slovenia dominated with their unique techniques that the Kiwi’s simply has not had a chance to practice in a big fleet. Despite this, sitting down and talking to any of the Kiwi’s they have learnt their lesson and feel a lot more confident going forward into this week of training and the Europeans in a weeks time.

Final results:
31st Sam Bacon
41st Craig Keenan
78th Scott McKenzie

Our racing area has only 3-4m of water, making conditions very choppy for the amount of wind. For the Kiwi sailors, all weighing under 40kg their speed proved to be their strong point as they simply sailed over the chop without sacrificing speed. It will be exciting to see what magic the Kiwi’s can produce if they get off the line clearly.

This week our team and the Finnish team will be training together. This is a fantastic opportunity for the New Zealand sailors to train against some really talented, well traveled, and experienced sailors. Starting will be a huge focus during the week to ensure by the time race comes the sailors are confident and skilled enough to consistently start well.

On Tuesday the team will take a day off and travel to Budapest by train.
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