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sail-world.com -- Objective Australia - first couple of weeks have been a blur!

Objective Australia - first couple of weeks have been a blur!    
Wed, 21 Aug 2013

Sorry it’s been a while coming, but we have to tell you that it is so busy getting ready for the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup, it’s ridiculous.

It’s all good, everyone is coping well with the massive workload but the reality is we are fitting a lot into a small window and to add complexity the timetable here is a moveable feast.

We’ll try and explain...

The whole Objective Australia team got to San Francisco by August 6th. The great news is that everyone is in great condition – physically and mentally. Everyone has been meeting their goals in competition over the past four months in the Northern Hemisphere c circuits and we are fit. That is proving to be a real asset as we are basically non-stop and there won’t be any real relief until September the fifth!

Our day goes something like this:

0630 Spring enthusiastically out of bed! (Our coach Traks tells us he has already been up for an hour)
0700 Brekkie and daily briefing before we get into our sailing gear to take on the short walk down to the boat.
0830 On the water for about a two hour session.
1100 Back in and the inevitable post sail maintenance on the boat.
1230 - 1330 Lunch and recovery.
1400 - 1530 Gym session.
Then we try and watch a little bit of the Louis Vuitton if it’s on.
1700 - 1900 De-brief
1900 Dinner (Awesome!)
2100 - 2130 We are all in bed by then and really the afternoons often get filled with more boat work.

These boats are brutal on everything; people, sails and equipment.


Compared to what we are used to in dinghy’s the loads are massive – tons of pressure on the sheets and the runners and those boards we have to get up and down every tack and gybe weigh 45kg’s and it’s all required really quickly. Every night there are blocks to be replaced, winches to be stripped, control lines to be replaced... the list is constant and seemingly endless. The payback for our diligence though, is we are always on the water, on time.

On any given day there are six other teams out in the practice area (the other three will have their boats out of the water on a scheduled maintenance period).

Our training area is where the race course will be – out the front of Marina Green, which is in front of the St Francis and Golden Gate Yacht Clubs for those who know San Francisco – so the windiest and tide-e-est part of the bay then!

We get to go out when the 72’s aren’t out. The reason for this is that when our boats or the 72’s are on the water we have a flotilla of Fire brigade, Coastguard and ACRM rescue boats. There simply aren’t enough of these to go around for both fleets.

Given the 72’s somewhat changeable timetable at the moment, we have to remain flexible on our time on the water. Sometimes we double up sessions; sometimes we miss out entirely (as do all the others).

When we get out on the water, with the entourage, the pressure really gets intense. Seven boats, all doing 15-30 knots everywhere in a one mile square boundary area. No exceptions.

It takes us about five minutes upwind, with tacks, and three minutes downwind, with gybes, to cover the top to bottom of the boundary area. Did we mention the six other boats doing the same thing? So, we are constantly on the lookout for other boats, the boundary, marks, breeze, tide as well as getting all our manoeuvres perfect. We are always out of breath... there is never a break out there.

Someone likened sailing an AC45 to playing chess, while running a competitive marathon, and we love it! Despite the work and the pressure and the relentlessness of it all, we love sailing these boats, they are EPIC!

We are also really enjoying each other’s company. This has been and will continue to be, a tight little unit –there’s the nine of us, plus Coach Traks Gordon and we have two Den mothers looking after us. They should remain nameless for now but they are really doing a great job!


Of course our Team Principal Tony Walls, has spent some time with us and he will be back toward the end of training and the beginning of racing.

Most of us usually sail either one or two man boats and only Ted Hackney, Keiran Searle and Luke Parkinson are really experienced in big boat programmes with multiple crewmembers and roles. So getting the dynamics right on the boat has been really critical – we are certain we are really hitting our strides now though, with all our manoeuvres. Traks is cycling though a number of combinations and while Jason Waterhouse is confirmed as the helmsman the remaining five spots have nine crew hungry for them. It’s friendly though – the competition for places pushes us all to do our best, but even if we don’t make the on-water team we know that the work on-shore will be just as vital to the overall success.

Just to add to the day, we get stopped everywhere by locals asking us about the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup. As far as we can tell, there are two types of American’s – those who can sail and know the Bay and those who say they can sail and know the Bay!

Everyone here is really keen for the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup to get underway. We constantly have five deep at the fences watching us get ready and then there are always spectators on the shore just even during practice. San Francisco is really getting behind all the youth teams and this event.

We have a couple more days sailing before we are scheduled out of the water for our maintenance programme so we’ll make the most of it. Hopefully we can do a little more tow boating (we’ve hooked up with the Germans a bit but are hoping to get a better idea with some of the other teams soon).

The good news is we can see some of the other teams are slowing down a bit even just after the first week or so, and, while it’s tough, we are all feeling strong and fit.

Thanks for all the support to our Facebook page, we like to keep the regular updates there – please take a look at: https://www.facebook.com/ObjectiveAustralia

We’re keen to get over 4,000 likes before the end of this regatta so please come and support us – you have no idea how inspiring all the little messages we get are.

Thanks from; Jason Waterhouse, Keiran Searle, Fang Warren, Josh McKnight, Tom Burton, Luke Parkinson, Ted Hackney, James Wierzbowski, Traks Gordon and Tony Walls.

Tony Walls and the whole team are available for media contact. We have lots of exciting broadcast quality footage and great action shots.

by Simon Reffold



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