Europe Update Part “Deux” & Paying It Forward…

Sailing World Cup

@ our hotel just outside the port of Hyeres

Arriving in France, we were immediately at ease in our new surroundings.  We had booked a hotel outside the port of Hyeres, which at first we thought was going to be a disadvantage. But it turned out to be a major advantage as it was quiet, spacious, and it encouraged us to venture into the surrounding area.  With about 6 free days before training resumed with the other US 49er teams, we took full advantage of our location and started exploring.

Our first morning we found Giens…

Genz, France, Sailing World Cup, Hyeres

A walk through the neighborhood.

A small village less then 5 minutes from our hotel.  The quaintness of Gienz was adorable.  The fact that people were living modern lives in this village of humble architecture, was astonishing to me.  What a beautiful place.

Giens, France

Stumbling Into Cross-Training…

About 5 minutes in a slightly more westerly direction, we found the town of La Madrague.  This town is essentially windsurfing heaven.  It turns out that the Bay of Alemenar, upon which this town sits, is one of the premiere windsurfing locations in all of France.  We did not know that before we booked our hotel a short 10 minute bike ride from the Spin Out France Windsurfing School.

windsurfing, ISAF sailing world cup, France

Spinout France – our windsurfing school in La Madrague.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I took some lessons while Christine immediately was ripping it up.  Obviously windsurfing is a great cross training exercise for skiff sailing.   I know that cross training in something like windsurfing will improve my 49erFX driving skills.  I am looking forward to finding a way to add windsurfing into my future training.

View from the windsurfing school's launch area.  The Bay of Alemenar.

View from the windsurfing school’s launch area. The Bay of Alemenar.

Boat Work & Preparation…

After a few days of soaking in the local scene, we needed to complete the hull repair we did in Palma.  It was time to take the packing tape off and add some fairing compound.  Christine took the lead in this job and I followed up with cleaning and waxing the hull with McLube Hull Polish – which does amazing things to gelcoat…

Fairing compound applied.  Time to wet-sand.

Fairing compound applied. Time to wet-sand.

Making the hull shine with McLube Hull Polish

Making the hull shine with McLube Hull Polish

 

 

 

 

 

 

One thing we learned on this trip is it’s important to be self-sufficient in order to succeed on the Olympic path we’ve chosen.  Why?  Equipment breaks.  People cancel.  Sails fly off trailers as you drive down the highway.  Trailers blow off mountain-sides in 50kt puffs.  Essentially, “stuff” happens.  You have to be prepared to physically deal with the issues that arise (i.e. having gelcoat and West Systems supplies in your trailer that you packed in Miami), and you also have to be capable of mentally dealing with the temporary set backs.  I will admit it’s possible that I have a strong tendency to plan ahead and that I might “over do it” from time to time.  I also know that there are teams who are not prepared for a major break down or challenge, but it just has not yet happened to them.  In the end, I believe all teams will experience set backs and what will determine the most successful team is how they respond to those challenges.

15th Overall In Hyeres…

We wrapped up our trip with a 15th overall at the Sailing World Cup, Hyeres.  In all it was an experience rich with lessons.  We certainly will be ready to put forth a stronger showing at these two important events next year.  I’m personally excited for that challenge.

Paying It Forward Back Home On San Francisco Bay…

We returned to San Francisco and after taking some personal time off, we reconvened at Richmond Yacht Club for afternoon practice sessions on the Bay.  We have been keeping our boat at RYC because they have great launching and access to the Bay.  The director of Jr. Sailing, Dan Brandt, is a long-time supporter of skiff sailing.  He has been a personal resource to me over the past few years as I have taken on skiff sailing.  We reached out to Dan before we left for Europe about providing some RYC sailors with an opportunity to experience the 49er FX.  Dan collected some local sailors and on a recent Sunday Christine and I took out six young women to show them what the 49erFX could do.

We made the young women do everything including launching so they would see what it's really like to sail the FX.

We made the young women do everything including launching so they would see what it’s really like to sail the FX.

We began the day on the dock briefly explaining how the FX was rigged and allowed the sailors to get a very close look at how the boat works.  Christine did a great job running through the maneuvers and providing a brief description of what would happen on the water.  Our final suggestion to the girls that they use their time on the coach boat mindfully watching how Christine or I do the position they wanted to try as a way of learning the job through visual practice.  With that in mind, we departed the RYC dock.  As luck would have it, the San Francisco Bay winds were in full effect – it was a solid 20kts.  We began by positioning the RIB close to our stern as we sailed upwind, performing several tacks.  We bore away and set the kite so the girls could see some examples of gybes and a fast take down.

It was time to start taking each girl on board for an FX experience.  Given the building wind speed, Christine and I chose to ride in a 3-up configuration all day long.  This choice was hugely successful as each girl had the opportunity to crew, drive, or both (depending on their interest) in a solid 20kts of breeze.  I was excited to see these girls being introduced to skiffs (some for the first time) in solid planing conditions.  It really was thrilling!

Young sailor at the helm of our 49erFX in a solid 20kts...

Young sailor at the helm of our 49erFX in a solid 20kts while another young lady looks on.  Thank you to Dan Brandt and the Richmond Yacht Club for allowing us to share our time with these young women!

The courage and enthusiasm of these young women was exciting, to say the least.  I was quite impressed with the skill (and guts) they demonstrated.  It seemed like each girl enjoyed the afternoon and we concluded with about 1.5 hours of talking about our recent trip to Europe and what it’s like to compete on the international level.  They each had thoughtful questions and I was encouraged by how interested they appear to be in high performance sailing.

Stay tuned as we prepare to depart for the European Championship in Denmark.  For the first time, we are reaching out to find supporters to join us.  Please follow this link to find out more and please consider passing this link along to friends.

GoFundMe Page: Lane/Nevill 49erFX European Championship

Christine and I want to thank you for following our progress.  We look forward to sharing more of our story with you soon.  We also want to thank our sponsors whose support made this trip possible.  They include Sperry Top-Sider, Easom Rigging, the St. Francis Sailing Foundation, and US Sailing.  A very special thank you to US Coach Luther Carpenter who worked with us every race day in Europe and graciously spent many hours off the water discussing our performance.

Sail Fast!

K.Lane

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Palma & Hyeres

We just returned from competing in ISAF Sailing World Cup regattas in Plama de Mallorca and Hyeres.  This was our first trip to Europe and we came away from the experience with several important lessons.  Not the least of which is a focused understanding of what our training will emphasize in the immediate future along with considerations about how to return next year poised to achieve better results – which is really the path to the ultimate goal.  Here’s a quick recount of our experiences…

24 Hours In Barcelona…

Wrong Way Gringo!

Wrong Way Gringo!

We booked a tiny apartment in “old city” Barcelona.  Using a paper map purchased at the gas station, we navigated our way from the airport down extremely narrow streets (often in the wrong direction) to where we would get our first taste of European culture.  We spent the next day visiting several Gaudi sites.  First off was Segrada Familia where we naively walked up to the ticket counter to buy tickets for Easter Sunday Morning – not going to happen…

Casa Milia

Casa Milia

So we modified our plans and jumped into a cab and headed for Casa Milia where we thoroughly enjoyed our time.  From there we headed to Park Guell where we kind of lost our enthusiasm for Gaudi’s visions.

Segrada Familia exterior

Segrada Familia exterior

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Segrada Familia Interior

But all was redeemed when we returned to Segrada Familia and enjoyed the indoor tour as the setting sun illuminated the ornate stained glass windows that rise hundreds of feet in the air.  Walking into the cathedral was a moment I won’t soon forget as it had a silencing effect on my mind and emotions.  Christine and I walked in and both of us wandered away from each other transfixed on what we saw.  It was about an hour later that we even realized we had parted ways.

Segrada Familia

Segrada Familia

Ferry Time…

Here’s the thing about me, I get sea sick really easily.  My attempt to race the J/105 out the Gate here in San Francisco ended in embarrassment more times then not.  If I am driving on a buoy course – I’m fine.  But getting our rental car to Palma, where our trailer and boat was waiting for us, was going to push my personal boundary to a new place.  We booked a “VIP” room which meant Christine and I had a room over the stern of the boat with one small window.893519_659830090699136_970776646_o  I was keenly surprised when I was awaken by the ship’s announcement that we had arrived in Palma.  This was the second big accomplishment of the trip; the first being that we used a paper map to successfully  navigate Barcelona.

 

Palma Arrival…

892394_659830337365778_1371828939_oAfter arriving via ferry we made our way to the boat park and started the day-long task of installing a new mast step and rigging our boat.  By the time sunset came around, we were jet lagged, tired, and “haggered”. 903692_659830270699118_59906651_o

 

Palma Takes a Bite…

Leaving the beach in Palma on a windy day without any gear breakages was an accomplishment in itself.  Palma definitely sunk its teeth into us and delivered some major wipe outs.  The conditions were significant with large waves making the boat extremely challenging to sail.  In fact, we buried the bow and capsized sailing upwind…  It was instantly clear to me that all the European teams who had spent the last 2+ weeks sailing in Palma were going to be well practiced in these conditions.883388_561324793902112_1492704075_o

We found a coach running a training clinic that had one spot open due to a cancellation.  Javier Torres de Moral was kind enough to take us in and we spent three fun days getting some needed coaching and support from Javier and Federico Alonzo (49er skipper).  The small group format was excellent and the progress had a positive impact on our attitude.

Racing Started With A “Bang” (literally)…

Starting with 30+ skiffs on the line was not just difficult, it was mas-chaos-hysterics…

A Start In Palma

A Start In Palma

In a start I feebly attempted to double-tack but stalled on port and fouled Martine Grael.  Her port wing became positioned overlapped and below my starboard hull while her boat healed to starboard as they attempted to avoid us.  We mistakenly flattened our boat down onto the front corner of her wing and punctured our hull…  Oh yes, we actually did that and only realized it during a recovery from a capsize.  We sailed in.  Took our mast down, and started to consider our options.

The Hole

The Hole

Removing Gelcoat

Removing Gelcoat

At first we attempted to find a local fiberglass guy who was actually too busy to do our boat but gave us some pointers.  Then US Team Mates Zach Brown and Fred “The Hammer” Strammer came to our aid and gave us some suggestions about repairing the hole ourselves.  We broke out the dremmel bit and started aggressively removing gelcoat  around the hole.  After installing several layers of carbon, we covered the repair with packing tape and hoped it would cure in time for our morning start.  The following morning we left the tape on, flipped our boat, and re-installed our rig.  It was a pretty major accomplishment that we made it out there.

Palma continued to deliver tough conditions and we seemed to make mistakes on the race course where we would lose 10+ boats at a time.  On the final day of the regatta we began to settle in a little bit and really enjoyed racing that day.  525373_562522680448990_2103832086_n

Pack Up…

We watched the 49erFX medal races from the coach boat.  It was great to see the boat handling of the top teams up close.  We learned a great deal from that session and decided that we would focus on starting moves and tacks during our practice time in France.

Ferry Workers On Strike…

We arrived to the ferry terminal early and joined our place inside at the ticket window line.  As time went by and many hundreds of other people packed inside the building, we wondered if we would even get on a boat that night as word spread the ferry company employees were on strike.  Thankfully the windows opened and we took our tickets and drove our trailer onto the ferry.  Our room for this voyage was an internal room with a fake window and four bunks.  We weren’t sure what was going to happen – would two Spanish truckers walk in at any time to be our “bunk mates?”  Would I lose my cookies on them from the top bunk in the middle of the night?  Exhausted, I feel asleep again and did not awake until the arrival announcement.  It turns out I sleep really well at sea in a large power boat – that’s something I would never have expected.

The Road Regatta…

The Petite Fromage

The Petite Fromage, 2nd place overall.

We arrived in Barcelona and left the port with a full tank of gas in our little Puegot car that we have named “The Petit Fromage.”  As we started on the highway to Hyeres, it became clear we were competing in another race – The Road Regatta.  Sailing teams and their trailers traveling from Palma to Heyers were  making passing moves all over the place.  We took a more steady approach – slightly faster all the time.  While the Norwegian Laser team would gun it on the down slopes and ride the momentum uphill until their massive rig would slow them to a relative crawl and we would speed by.  Two things were in our favor – our trailer was light and we had a full tank of gas so we did not have to “pit” which allowed us to put a big pass on the Norwegians from which they could never recover.  But it was no match for the aggressiveness (some may say recklessness) of the Brazilian 49er skipper whose VSR wobbled on its trailer as he flew by us all.  We were happy with 2nd place.  After being stuck in grid lock in Tulon as a soccer match was about to begin, we peeled away from the pack of trailers and drove the coast for the last 40 minutes, which was beautiful.  Arriving to our hotel just outside Hyeres we un-hitched our trailer and focused on a well-needed rest period.

Thank you to Sperry Top Sider, St. Francis Sailing Foundation, US Sailing, Easom Rigging, and Cafe of Life Chiropractic for supporting us in this endeavor.

Stay tuned for more info on our time in France….

Sail Fast,

KLane

 

Adios Miami!

Here’s The Latest:

ISAF Sailing World Cup – 3rd overall after breaking our mast in the final day of qualifications and did not make the US Sailing Team.  After that major disappointment, a podium finish was bitter-sweet.  But then again, I love sweets!

Bronze Medal

Bronze Medal at ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami

Photo Credit: Dave Hein

Photo Credit: Dave Hein

"Luther, got any snacks?"

“Luther, got any snacks?”

Kristen Lane & Molly Carapiet

Kristen Lane & Molly Carapiet

Onward & Upward: Sending Our Gear To Europe

Following the Miami regatta I was reunited with Christine Neville and we packed up our trailer for the 2013 events.  I think we are well prepared – but then again I thought I was prepared in Miami and my mast came down…  So who knows what will happen but at least we are ready to deal with it.

Ladies only...

Ladies only…:)

Packed & Ready To Go!  Note:  What is shown here is not necessarily all of our equipment.  Word is spreading amongst sailors that we have "space" and people have been adding their stuff to our trailer ;).

Packed & Ready To Go! Note: What is shown here is not necessarily only our equipment. Once word spread amongst US sailors that we had “space” lots of extra stuff was added ;).

Meet My Teammate – Christine Neville

Christine Nevill

Christine Neville

I spotted Christine on the docks of the St. Francis Yacht Club launching her Laser Radial at a spring regatta last year.  As I looked up to her 6′ tall eyes, I decided to take the initiative and ask her if she wanted to sail skiffs…  She was keen, and I was excited.  It has taken several months to slowly tempt Christine away from her Laser Radial, but she’s now on board with enthusiasm!

Kristen Lane & Christine Neville

Kristen Lane & Christine Neville

Together Christine and I are diving into the “deep end of the pool” by traveling to Europe and sailing at the Princess Sophia regatta in Palma de Mallorca, and the ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyeres.  No doubt, we’re on the low end of the learning curve, and the level of competition in Europe will be significantly more intense then what we experienced in Miami.  Our performance expectations are subdued – our focus is on establishing a foundation for communication on the race course and reliable boat handling.  The fleet size will probably be around 40 boats at each regatta – that’s a whole skill within itself that we need to work on.

Our true performance goal is 3 years away.  What’s important is that we do the hard work to lay a foundation for 2014.  Don’t get me wrong, we are hungry.  But as a mentor recently reminded us, we are “keeping our eye on the prize.”

So here we go.  Headed to Palma where we could see some extreme conditions…

Whaaat?!?

WHAAAAT?!?

Thank you for taking the time to check in on our progress.  A big thank you to the St. Francis Sailing Foundation, Easom Rigging, Gill North America, and Sperry Top – Sider.

Stay tuned for more :)

Sail Fast,

KLane

Skipper

Skipper: Kristen Lane

Taking It All In

Alex Smith should be getting ready to play in the Superbowl – a career high for any NFL player, let alone a team-leading quarterback.  Instead, he’s watching his understudy, Colin Kaepernick, thrive in the spotlight while leading the 49er’s to the threshold of their first Superbowl victory since the glory days of the Joe Montana to Steve Young succession.

Photos Credit: SF Examiner

Photos Credit: SF Examiner

Sorry to offend, but that just has to suck for Smith…  I mean, think about it – here you are in the prime opportunity your sport can offer and you are sidelined.  It would be really easy to “go dark” in a moment like that.  You could even imagine being a good soldier and having “no comment” for the press.

But Smith is taking the high road and speaking out about how he is impressed by Keapernick’s performance under pressure.  (Read the SF Gate article where Smith explains his mindset)

I’m really impressed with Smith and there’s a lesson there for me that I am still trying to digest.  When I know what it is exactly I’ll let you know.  But what I do know right now is elite athletes are elite for a reason.  Smith is showing one of them– humility and professionalism during challenging times while stepping up to support his team mate.  That’s the lesson as I see it right now.

What does this have to do with sailing?

It’s a personal theme that lately I’ve become aware of while spending the last 2 months training in the 49erFX amongst elite sailors.  Not just the sailing.  But all the other “stuff” that makes people successful.  Suffice to say, I am soaking up as many lessons as I can.  The 49erFX is a very hard boat to sail and perfecting the skills necessary to succeed in this class are going to take years, which is a good thing because I have about 3+ to figure it out…

ISAF Miami World Cup begins in a few days.  This is the first Grade 1 event that I have ever sailed in, and my second regatta in the 49erFX (the first was the North American Championship where we finished 4th).  There’s something about the pressure of a Grade 1 that is interesting.  While I would like to say “I’m cool with all the pressure”, the truth is I’m nervous.  But at the same time I am also very excited to have the chance to race against teams like Gulia Conti & Francesca Clapcich (ITA),  Martin Soffiate Grael & Kahena Kunze (BRA), and Anna Tunnicliffe & Molly O’Bryan Vandemoere to name a few.  My crew mate for this event is Molly Carapiet.

Team Mate Molly Carapiet and I will compete at the ISAF World Cup Miami

Team Mate Molly Carapiet and I will compete at the ISAF World Cup Miami

A very special thank you to our sponsors Gill North America for the ideal skiff sailing clothing as well as Easom Rigging who have spent the last month working with me to create a killer FX-specific line package that I will be using at this event.

So bring on the racing!  I’m totally stoked to have the opportunity to race against this caliber of competition in a fantastic boat.  I will check in with an update after the regatta.  You can follow the event on the website: http://mocr.ussailing.org/ or on the facebook page of the 49er class: 49er Fb page.  Thanks for reading.

Sail Fast!

KLane IMG_2263

Miami…

I flew into Houston, TX and headed back to La Porte where my gear was being stored at Coastline Marine, a custom trailer fabricator.  What was waiting for me is a trailer that will carry the campaign through Europe.  A custom 49er trailer that is designed to protect the mast from the elements during transport as well as the hull bottom. 

I handled the drive from Houston to Miami in a total of 3 days. I arrived to the US Sailing Center with 1 day of rigging before my scheduled training began.  It was time to put the boat back together.  Everything went smoothly.

Molly flew in and we sailed for 5 days. It was great conditions here on Biscayne Bay.  The wind is very dynamic and challenging to figure out.  In the low end of the range the lulls are significant. I can see it will be a challenge to transition on this race course.

I am taking the next week to get the boat’s systems dialed in.  I am also looking forward to taking a windsurfing lesson:).

Stay tuned for more.

Sail Fast,

Kristen Lane

Miami Fun

Training (Bruises, Gel Coat, Epoxy, & Carbon)

After spending a total of 15 days sailing in Houston TX, I returned home so bruised that I was getting strange looks and stares from people at the airport.  So far the boat work needed to keep sailing required all kinds of fun stuff: carbon, resin, orbital sander, wire, fid, spectra, and Neosporin.  To summarize, Texas was awesome!

Since returning to California I’ve been training on San Francisco Bay with Molly Carapiet, Christine Neville and Helena Scutt.  Conditions at this time of year on the Bay can vary wildly.  The normally strong winds that San Francisco is known for occur predominantly in the summer months.  Starting in fall and continuing through spring the conditions are generally lighter but can be influenced by storm fronts and very strong tidal currents.  I have enjoyed the opportunity of having daily access to sailing thanks to Molly, Christine, and Helena.

Heading South

Sailing with Christine Neville on SF Bay (Richmond-San Rafael bridge in background)

It’s time to take this sailing show to Miami.  Why?  Because the only ISAF World Cup event in North America takes place at Rolex Miami Olympic Classes regatta at the end of January.  For the next few months, the US Sailing Center (& Coco Walk for that matter) is bubbling over with young sailors preparing for the first event of 2013.  I plan to be in Miami and sailing my 49erFX by November 13th.  The training will continue until Christmas.  Then it will be time to think about Park City, Utah and skiing – something I look forward to every year.   [side note:  I was a ski instructor through college and enjoyed working at Vail and Deer Valley ski resorts.

Stay tuned for more info.

Sail Fast!

KLane

New Era

I have committed to sailing the 49erFX.  Already, I can see how this boat is going to challenge me as the bruises and scars are multiplying over the last 4 months that I have owned the boat.  I can already tell the women who excel in this class will be tough and rugged individuals.

After some cold water capsizing in San Francisco Bay, I drove my boat to Houston, TX and sailed in the lovely waters of Galvaston Bay where the water temp is in the 80’s.  Suffice to say, a much better capsizing experience:).  The Houston Yacht Club and it members could not be more welcoming and hospitable.  it seems like every member who happened by the club while we training came over to say hello.  I really enjoyed meeting new friends and telling them about the 49erFX.  The facilities at HYC are great including a wonderful swimming pool.

I’m returning to Houston for more training.  Joining me on this trip is Christine Neville and Molly Carapiet.  We are looking forward to getting back in the boat.  The training will stay centered in Houston until November when we move to Miami.  Between now and then I will sail on SF Bay as well, using a 2nd rig.  Right now the focus is training.  But we are looking ahead to racing in Mid January when the FX class will race in conjunction with the 49er North American Championship in Miami.  That will take place just a few days before the start of Rolex Miami OCR so there should be some good competition.

Thanks for checking in.  Stay tuned for more info from Houston.

Sail Fast,

KLane