At the end of 2014 we made an epic trip over to Perth in Australia to take part in the Tornado World Championships. This involved two road trips (there and back) to Southern Germany to load and unload the boat into a container, then of course the flight to Australia (with a 3 month old baby).
At the time I never wrote anything down about our preparation of getting to a World Championships and the logistics around attending. I thought this might be a useful read, whether you’re thinking of travelling to your first open meeting down the road or you’re looking at attending a World Championships. We’re in no way pros but we love our sailing and we like to sail with the best, watching and learning from further back!
This year in early June we’re off to the 2016 Tornado World Championships in Lindau, Southern Germany. No flights involved this time, just a long road trip with a trailer (again), a toddler and a 3 month old (again!).
So here are some tips on how we go about preparing for an event.
Where is the event? What’s involved in getting there? What are the dates? Where is the notice of race? Sailing instructions published yet? Who are you sailing with?
Collect all of the necessary information you need and start planning early.
With logistics, it could be an easy trip or it could be long and painful.
This year getting the boat to the World Championships is in our own hands using the trailer we have, no containers, far away loading destinations or customs.
Although in our own hands there are two boats travelling; Steve Glynn & Tom Duckmanton and Michaela & Andrew Dowley. We’ve also got the pleasure of bringing a new boat back for John Nickalls – welcome to the fleet John! Or maybe the boat is for David and Daniel?
You really need to think about your timing with logistics, how long will it take you to get to the event? Although Google maps is useful, you usually hit traffic so make sure you leave plenty of time. I would recommend arriving a day earlier if you can, although that’s with a Tornado which takes some time to put together. I find if you build the boat the day before you can at least relax knowing you don’t have to rush before the first race the next morning because the boat is ready to go.
Looking ahead to Germany, our friends at Google tell us it’s an 11 hour drive down to Lake Constance and we know it involves the M25, a ferry and a very long drive in Europe, probably around Brussels which isn’t great for traffic.
Trailer and Car
My first thoughts always fall to equipment and prep for a road trip – the car is booked in for a service, the trailer has been checked over and we roughly know how we’re going to carve up the journey over the days depending on progress. Steve is towing the trailer and will leave on Tuesday morning, we will follow on Wednesday morning with the kids onboard (wish us luck). The first measurement day is on Friday so this leaves at least 2 days to get there which is plenty of time and allows for an overnight stop.
Another important thing to always remember is a spare wheel for the trailer. If you buy me a beer in the Mamgu bar one night I’ll tell you the story of chasing a trailer wheel down the M3 at 11 o’clock at night. Buy me two and I’ll name the driver of the car.
I would always make sure you secure the boat properly, get straps or non stretch ropes and plenty of padding. Make sure you also check your knots and straps every time you stop, it’s surprisingly easy for them to come loose on a long drive.
Where to stay? Our most useful tool in previous years has been Airbnb, we found our accommodation for Ibiza and Perth here. Simply punch in the address of the sailing club and look for nearby places to stay. This year we’ve ventured elsewhere to book because there are no apartments around the area listed on Airbnb. We’ve managed to find an apartment 450 yards from the sailing club this year which is ideal. There’s also a pub less than 100 yards from the door – very important with us being sailing athletes!
We’ve always had a few people travelling to the events over the years so we’ve gone for apartments which work well although they are self catering. Sometimes a hotel can be nicer but it’s obviously your choice. B&B’s are fantastic in the UK and are worth searching for, especially for a short stay. Of course, most events also allow camping in a tent – the Commodore (Michaela) isn’t too keen on this option.
The key with accommodation is to work it out and book early, especially if you’re going to a big event. I’ve came unstuck previously at a large catamaran event where we had to stay quite far away from the club. Another useful tip is to speak to the locals and check out the club website for recommendations.
Boat and Equipment
One thing I’ve learnt is to make sure your boat is in the best condition it can be. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail and all that….. We took a boat to Perth which wasn’t in great condition, the World champion commented on the bad condition when it went back into the container to come home. The first thing I did when we got it back to the UK was took it to Graham Eeles, it’s amazing how a polish and small tidy up can make it look like new again.
Some of you may have seen me spending some time on the boat over the early May bank holiday. Okay, yes it was most of the weekend but we did hit some issues….
Make sure you spend the time, check each rope from end to end, your rigging, your sails, your blocks, shackles etc etc – the list is endless but just take some time to look in detail – it could save you an embarrassment when you get to the event.
By typing this I’ve just jinxed us and something is going to break!
Although it would be ideal you simply can’t pack a spare of everything! You know your boat, you know the bits you replace frequently and you know what could happen. Invest some money and get some spares. If you are short on cash to carry spares then there will always be a Chandlery locally, it might just mean you miss some races – not ideal if you only have one discard for example. Another option is to borrow, there are plenty of people who have the odd spare block hanging around they won’t mind you borrowing for a weekend or so.
Along with spare parts make sure you have some tools with you, a small tool box with basic tools can really save your event.
With some boats it’s also wise to carry some Gelcoat, filler or epoxy resin – a small dent or crack could be repaired at the event.
Check your insurance paperwork – are you covered to sail where you’re going? You might need to pay a little extra if you’re going far away. Is your boat also insured while in a container? It’s worth speaking to your insurance company.
Pack your sailing kit
First of all check you’ve got the essentials but then my advice would be to pack as much as you can (depending on the length of the event). You can never have enough gear, the more warm layers the better because at championships you’re going to be out on the water for lengthy periods of time. Try and find somewhere on your boat where you can store an extra layer, just in case.
Ahead of arrival set your goals for the event. If you sail by yourself then you will know what you want to do and achieve. If you sail with a crew/helm then make sure you talk about it. Maybe it’s not to come last, or maybe you don’t care where you end up as long as you learn something new to bring back to Marconi.
At the Event
Study the sailing instructions
This document you get given is your bible for the event! The organisers have spent a lot of time gathering the info and pulling it together for you – make sure you read it along with your crew/helm.
If your boat and sails need to be measured then it’s likely the organising committee will want the boat in bits again. Work out what’s needed and where you have to go. You may also need the boats original measurement certificate so make sure you pack that before your trip.
Test the sailing area
Go out ahead of the event (if you can) and go exploring, wind patterns are often similar in the same conditions. If you’re sailing on a lake or pond then work out if there is a big tree that’s going to give you a nasty shift or lack of wind.
Get on the water early
If you can push past the other boats it’s worth getting out on the water early. Go out, test the conditions, set the boat up as it should be for those conditions and practice, practice, practice. Think about how you’re going to start, where and what your tactics might be for the race. BUT make sure you also keep an eye on the committee boat incase the warning signal goes.
Talk to Others
I attended the 2010 Tornado World Championships to do some work for the organisers of Travemunde Week and the Tornado Class Association. Although frustrating not being on the water it was nice to be in the background driving a rib around the race course – you see things from a different angle.
One of the best things I did that week was introduced myself to people and talked to the sailors about their race, why they made decisions and why they have their boat set up in a certain way. I learnt so much! I also ended up filming a Tornado tuning guide with the Greek Olympic team which has been viewed on YouTube nearly 8,000 times.
The most important thing is to go and enjoy yourself, there is no point putting in the effort if you don’t enjoy yourself.
If you did have any questions, I would be happy to have a chat about this in some more detail. Sharing is caring!