Rod Davis- Making Emirates Team NZ's Game Plan for Almeria

Emirates Team NZ - Don’t think this was in the series game plan

Emirates Team New Zealand's Coach Rod Davis continues his behind the scenes look at the riding instructions for the the team going into the Extreme sailing Series at Almeria, Spain:

Last week I mentioned 'making a game plan' for our Extreme 40 regatta in Almeria, which very soon we are about to start racing. So come with me while we go through this.

It all starts with regatta targets.

Rod Davis, Coach Emirates Team NZ
We have the up-skill program in full swing with Derek Saward joining the cat for the first time and Razor (Ray Davies) trimming the main, also his first time racing the 40’s. This will be Adam Beashel’s third regatta as skipper, so his training wheels have come off. As always we want to be close to the top on the final score sheet.

For this regatta we need to nail the basics. Starting, crew work and boat speed. If we bowl those over consistently, we will be in good shape.

Starting - our build up will centre around the 'two minute' drill and fine use of the notes of our past regattas. The two-minute drill has been around since Dennis Conner was a toddler. It is simple enough: simulate a race start by beginning the countdown at two minutes, then be on the line at full speed at the gun. But most people cheat on it by sailing the last ten boat lengths to the line as if there was not another boat in the fleet – simply not a reality. In a real start you are stopped one length from the line for the last 45 seconds, in that time you have to maintain your boat position, not lose control of the boat at any point, bear off at 5-7 seconds to go, accelerate to full speed, be on the wind and on the line. That is what we have been practicing endlessly.

Crew work - good news is we have lots of video and notes from our previous regattas. Bad news; got no time, just the one practice day on Tuesday and we are racing for real. The notes will help but crew work improvement will be on-going thoughout the regatta. The practice lap each morning will be a big deal as it will allow the team to 'calibrate' their positions and roles. Since the time is short, we use 'real time coaching' as opposed to 'debrief coaching'. Real time is where you give little tips after each lap or race, rather than save it all up for a video class room session at the end of the day. In regattas real time is a better system. In training, where we have time, I prefer debrief.

Rod Davis notepad
Boat speed – again we have the notes from past regattas, but the notes only tell part of the story. There is nothing like showing pictures of our boat compared the other boats to demonstrate the differences. One thing you need to remember about pictures is they are only a snap shot in time. The trick is to ensure the ones you show are a true representation of the sail settings & shapes.

My own Coach’s Game Plan Hit List goes like this:

a) set the environment to make all the above happen without any fuss.

b) get better at using and presenting pictures and video in real time

c) keep 'tweaking' the game plan as the regatta dictates.

As everyone knows, or should know: Success is not about the Game Plan. Success is about execution.


Update: There is a military saying that goes something like 'no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy'. Today was to be our one and only practice day. But no wind for the first five hours and then a halyard problem reduced it to an hour late in the evening. Okay – on with the racing!

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