Pre-Season Preparation

by Charlie Pendleton

In the dead of winter, it’s easy to forget the warm summer and great racing that comes with it. In New England, we spend more months off the water than on, so there is no reason not to be prepared for the first race. Here are some of the things that I do over the winter to make sure I’m ready in the spring. They help keep me sane and motivated during the off-season!

Goal setting and ongoing learning

Goals are great motivators. Jim and I set goals every year. They can be simple, skill-related goals like better starts or roundings, or they can be aspirationbased like winning a specific regatta. In the early off-season, Jim and I meet and review the past season while it’s still fresh in our minds. What goals did or didn’t we achieve? Where did we make mistakes? Where could we improve? These questions serve as the basis for next season’s goals. Don’t stop learning because it’s cold! During the winter, Jim and I share articles about rules and areas where we need to improve. Trading emails and articles is a good way to stay motivated through the winter.

Boat and Equipment

R19s need ongoing maintenance, and chances are good you have something that needs attention. What needs repair or replacement? Lines, sails, hardware, rigging, hull, trailer, sailing gear…? Things break and wear down. It’s easier (and often cheaper) to find parts and equipment during the winter, when you have time (and suppliers have what you need in stock). Substantial off-season discounts can be found on sails through group orders. Once the spring comes, you’ll have less time to focus on these things. A good practice is to write it down. Keep a running repair/replace list throughout the year and work through it as you find the time. If you don’t have a list, start one now!

Schedule and Crew

Jim and I meet in May to look at the sailing schedule and talk about what races and regattas we’re going to sail. Sailing is a major commitment for you and your family, so figure out ahead of time which weekends and regattas you are going to sail. Block them off in your calendar and communicate those dates to everyone so you don’t run into scheduling conflicts. With all of the sailing days in the calendar, you need flexibility. Build a network of alternate crew. I have eight to ten alternates going into each season that can sub for Jim or me. It’s also good to have third available for windy days. There is nothing worse than missing a perfect Saturday because you can’t find crew.

Stay In Shape

Sailing is physically demanding. I’ve come into the summer out of shape and felt it – sore arms, sore back and muscle cramps. Weight is another consideration. R19 sailors go to great lengths to keep their boats close to minimum weight but that’s easily offset by the five to ten extra winter pounds. So exercise! I try (try!) to work out during the off-season to keep the weight off and stay in shape. Spring sailing is cruel to those who have been lazy over the winter, and August winds are kind to those that have stayed trim. Stay warm.

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