Saturday, July 9 - You're Invited to the Team Saunders Send-Off at CYC July 24!

posted Jul 9, 2016, 8:02 AM by saunders470   [ updated Jul 9, 2016, 8:11 AM ]

Please join us at the Chester Yacht Club on Sunday, July 24th from 5-7 pm for our official send-off to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. 

Rio Training

We're currently training in Rio de Janeiro, putting in lots of hours familiarizing ourselves with the Olympic venue. We're working with coaches Nick Rogers (three time 470 Olympian and two time Silver Medallist) and Oliver Bone (2008 470 Olympian) to ensure we're ready for the Games this August! Only one month until Rio so we're making every minute count.

We have two training regattas next week, with the majority of the Olympic fleet competing. This will be a great opportunity to get some very valuable racing in with the best in the world. Hope to see you all at CYC on July 24th!

Thursday, June 2 - We're Going to the OLYMPICS!

posted Jun 2, 2016, 7:59 AM by saunders470

Qualified for Rio 2016!

It's official - we will be going to the Rio 2016 Olympics! We couldn't be happier to have achieved our goal that we've been working towards for almost six years. The official release from Sail Canada can be found here.

We have so many people to thank for all of the support over the years including RNSYS, CYC, Clearwater, High Liner, Colonial Honda, North Sails Yacht ShopNew England Ropes, Castle Building SuppliesCIBC Wood Gundy, Ocean Rodeo, Scotiabank,  The Binnacle, and all of our individual supporters. Without everything you've done for us over the years we could not have achieved what he have; it's greatly appreciated!

We will be hosting a send-off to the Olympics at the Chester Yacht Club on Sunday, July 24 from 5-7, so save the date! We'd love to see you all there!

Upcoming Training

We've got 64 days until the Opening Ceremonies, and we're planning to use that time as effectively as possible to ensure we're ready for Rio!

We're headed to Weymouth, England for the ISAF Sailing World Cup Weymouth & Portland today for our last official regatta before the 2016 Olympics. This will be a great chance to identify areas we need to train on over the next two months in preparation, and many of the Olympic teams will be in attendance. The regatta runs from June 6-12, after which we'll return to Nova Scotia for some training and organization before heading to Rio for our final training block.

We'll be heading to Rio from June 27 until July 20 for three weeks of training with many of the Olympic teams, including two coach run regattas from July 11-13 and 16-18. This will be an invaluable time to further familiarize ourselves with such a tricky venue and final training with Olympic fleet teams prior to the games.

We'll then have two weeks at home before heading to Brazil early August for the Olympics! We're looking forward to a productive and exciting two months ahead of us. Please see the column to the right, to learn how you can help support us in our final preparations for the Rio 2016 Olympics!

Support

We've got 64 days until the Olympics! Now that we have qualified for Rio 2016, we are gearing up for a big push with lots of time on the water training with other Olympic teams and high level coaching.

If you can help us cover the associated costs in any way, please let us know! Training in Rio will be costly, as everything from accommodation, food, boat storage, and coach boat rental has been drastically inflated for the lead up to the Olympics. The Canadian Sailing Team is operating on a very limited budget, and can provide little in the way of support of our training in Rio before the Games. Please consider renewing your support and if at all possible dig a bit deeper - every bit counts! Don't hesitate to contact us if you can help in any way.

Thursday, April 21 - Two Regattas done in Palma, Upcoming World Cup Hyeres

posted Apr 21, 2016, 5:19 AM by saunders470

Princesa Sofia and 470 Europeans

We’ve just left Palma de Mallorca after almost a month, with the primary focus on racing. We competed in the Trofeo Princesa Sofia from March 27 until April 2, then immediately got prepared for the 470 European Championships, which began on April 5.
 
During the qualifying series of Trofeo Princesa Sofia we had some ups and downs; our best finish was 3rd but unfortunately we were over early in race 3 which ended up costing us. We were quite disappointed to miss Gold Fleet by five points because of the letter score. However, racing in Silver proved beneficial as we were able to practice racing at the front of the fleet.  We finished in the top six of an almost forty boat fleet in every race of the series, managing to sail consistently and learning lots through being near the front.
 
The Europeans, in the same venue as the Trofeo Princesa Sofia, ended up challenging us with a large variety of conditions, including one day of no racing due to unstable conditions.



We were fighting hard for a spot in the Gold Fleet; the level was significantly higher at the European Championship as many teams faced Olympic Trials and had decided to skip the Princesa Sofia event. With only the top 35 making Gold, we knew it would be a challenge. We managed two 8
th place finishes, but unfortunately in the last race of qualifying we made a costly mistake on the second upwind that took us from 12th to 21st. In the end points were extremely tight, and we missed Gold by only two points. Had we finished in 12th in the final race, we would have been in 25th overall instead of 39th, easily making Gold. We were fairly disappointed; it was easy to reflect back on the racing and realize which mistakes had cost us the two points we needed to make Gold. However, there were other strong teams in Silver that made for more learning opportunities and challenging racing.
 
While our results weren’t quite where we’d hoped, we were able to take a lot away from all the racing experience in such a short time. We’re currently gearing up for the ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyeres, and are excited to put these lessons in action when racing begins here on the 27th.


Sailing World Cup Hyeres


After wrapping up in Palma, we took a ferry to Barcelona and drove some equipment to Hyeres, France. We then had to drive to Santander, Spain to pick up the boat we used at the World Championship in Argentina. The container arrived last week and the Spanish were kind enough to unload it and store our boat until we could travel there to collect it. After completing the 2,100km round trip drive, we’re back in Hyeres setting up the boat (Rudy) and getting ready to begin training! Hyeres is typically quite a windy venue, so we’re going over the boat to make sure there will be no equipment failure in the strong breeze.
 
Since this is a World Cup event, only 40 boats have qualified to compete, meaning a very high level. For many, this will be the last official regatta before the Olympics in August. We are looking to spend a few days training with a boathandling focus, as we have spent a lot of time racing over the last few months and feel we need to put a bit of emphasis on our manoeuvres to ensure they’ll be as sharp as possible before we get into racing. This World Cup event is only four days of fleet racing, instead of the usual five, plus a medal race. We’re looking forward to getting some time in the boat before we get back into racing, and are ready to push hard for a result we can be proud of. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, Mar 8 - 2016 Worlds, Upcoming European Events

posted Mar 8, 2016, 7:10 AM by saunders470   [ updated Mar 8, 2016, 7:11 AM ]

2016 World Championship

We've just returned home from the 2016 470 World Championship, held in San Isidro, Argentina. Unfortunately we didn't have the event we were hoping for, finishing 32nd. The venue was extremely challenging, and while we had some good moments and good races, we felt we weren't starting well. This was the largest fleet we'd sailed in for over a year, and poor starting costs a lot in such a big fleet! We also faced the unusual challenge of 'camalote' plants, which were floating down the river from upstream.


Camalote plants on our race course. Photo: Matías Capizzano

These plants created huge issues during racing; having to continuously clear them from the centreboard and rudder cost valuable time and distance, and we damaged both the centreboard gasket and the rudder several times throughout the regatta. On top of the plants, we saw varying debris and garbage polluting the water, including large logs and an intact car tire, still on the rim, floating just below the surface of the river.

We're looking to make major improvements in our starting before our next event in Palma at the end of March to ensure we can get the results we know we can when we perform our best.Even though we didn't get the result in Argentina we were looking for, we made some very good improvements in certain areas and learned many valuable lessons. We now have a specific focus for our upcoming events, and are hungry for good results at the three upcoming regattas in March and April.


Racing in San Isidro, 2016 Worlds. Photo: Matías Capizzano


Upcoming European Events

We're headed to Europe on March 22 for the beginning of the European racing season. We'll start the trip in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, for two events: theTrofeo Princesa Sofia, an annual Olympic Class regatta held in Mallorca, and the 2016 470 European Championship, which will also take place in Mallorca this year. We will then head to Hyères, France, for the 2016 ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyères

All three of these events will help us to secure our nomination to the Canadian Olympic Team, so we'll be fighting hard for strong results to show Sail Canada that we're ready to perform in Rio this summer. This is an extremely critical time for us, as we only have a few more major regattas before the Olympics this summer to hone our skills and make improvements in our racing. We are currently looking to secure enough funding for these events, including covering our travel, accommodation, and coaching costs (see Support on right). If you can help please contact us!

Support

We've qualified Canada for the 2016 Olympic Games this August, which is half the battle for us to realize our dream of representing Canada in Rio this summer. Now, we need to ensure we are nominated to the Canadian Olympic Team by Sail Canada. To get this nomination, we need to prove ourselves to be competitive at the Olympic level at the next few events in Europe. To ensure peak performance we need to not only cover costs of getting ourselves and our equipment there, we need coaching. We have our coach Oliver Bone lined up to be there, but we need to secure the funding to cover our costs.

If you have committed to supporting our 2016 season, we would greatly appreciate the support earlier this season as this is a very important time in our campaign. Since the Olympics are in August, all of our training and competition over the next few months is critical, so we are asking, if at all possible, forsupporters to contribute early this year so we have funding in place for the final six months of our campaign.

If you haven't committed, but would like to support our final push to the Rio Olympics, please let us know! Feel free to contact us with any questions, comments, or if you feel you can support us in the final few months of our campaign. Thank you all for your continued support and interest in Team Saunders!

Sunday, Feb 7 - Qualified Canada for Rio-2016, 7th at SWC Miami

posted Feb 7, 2016, 12:45 PM by saunders470   [ updated Mar 5, 2016, 10:09 AM ]

Job done! We succeeded in qualifying Canada for a spot in the Olympics this past week at the Sailing World Cup Miami. After almost three weeks of training and and two practice regattas in Miami earlier in January, our preparation for the World Cup couldn’t have been better.  We had coaching on water almost every single training and race day from Canadian Sailing Team Coach Erik Stibbe and our coach Oliver Bone, a 2008 Canadian 470 Olympian. Having access to such high calibre coaching for an extended period meant we made huge improvements, which resulted in a strong finish at the World Cup Miami.

Qualifying Canada for a spot in the Men’s 470 means that half the battle of qualifying for the Rio 2016 Games is over. Now that Canada has a spot, we need to be nominated by Sail Canada to the Canadian Olympic Team. We are confident that we will secure a nomination from Sail Canada, although we will have to continue our current upward trend. The committee at Sail Canada will be watching our results closely at the upcoming World Championships in Argentina, and the events in Europe this spring. The good news is that we ticked a box with our result in Miami; one of Sail Canada’s criteria for securing an Olympic nomination is to finish top 10 at a World Cup event and we wrapped up the World Cup Miami in 7th!

The conditions at the Sailing World Cup Miami were very challenging; most of the week we had light to moderate offshore breeze, making for big shifts and large changes in wind strength. This made racing very tricky, but we put into practice the strategies we have been working on with our coaches recently and managed to sail quite consistently. In the difficult conditions we feel that we managed risk on the race course well and our boat speed was very good across a variety of conditions. We stayed in the top ten all week and qualified for our first Medal Race! The Medal Race is reserved only for the top ten boats, and is worth double points, meaning big changes can happen in the results. You can watch a recording of the medal race coverage here! Like the rest of the week the medal race involved big shifts and wind velocity changes across the course. After a tough start, we managed to get into a great groove with the shifts, read the breeze well and sailed up through the fleet to finish 2nd, moving us up to 7th overall, a personal best for us as a team!

To hear more about the regatta and the medal race, click here to read the CBC Sports article released about the regatta.

Thank you all for your kind words of support these last few days. We are forever grateful for all the support we’ve received to make this journey possible!

2016 World Championship

We’ll spend the next 6 days at home recovering from the Miami trip and getting organized before we fly to Buenos Aires for the 2016 470 World Championships. Since this is an Olympic year, the Worlds are very early in the season; the event is part of the Olympic Trials for many nations.

We are looking forward to racing in Argentina, where we will see a very dense, competitive fleet of about 40 boats. Unfortunately we won't meet all of the serious men's 470 competitors in Argentina since it is so difficult to get a boat there. However, the level of competition will be higher than a typical worlds as only the top teams will be making the trip to San Isidro. We're looking forward to getting right back into training on February 10th and pushing hard for another strong result!

A good finish at the World Championship will help secure our nomination for the Canadian Olympic Team.

Saturday, Sept 26 - Great Progress Made Training in Haifa, Israel

posted Sep 26, 2015, 12:37 AM by saunders470

We arrived in Haifa about 12 days ago, got settled into the apartment we are sharing with our Finnish friends and training partners, and unloaded our boat from the container. We've had 7 days on the water so far working with a new coach, Andrew Brown. Andrew is a very experienced coach and sailor, he competed in the 2004 Olympics in the 470 representing New Zealand and has since coached top teams in the 470 and 49er. We are very excited to be working with Andrew, and would like to thank Rudy Haase for giving us the opportunity! Rudy helped us out immensely with the finances to hire Andrew.

So far we have been working on our communication and race decisions, as well as making some small changes to our tuning and technique. We feel that we have improved a great deal and are sailing really well in practice races here. Some other coaches have even come up to us to say they've noticed a big improvement in how we're sailing!

The conditions here in Haifa are pretty incredible, we've had decent breeze just about every day of training, and both the air and water temperatures are above 30 degrees!

We'll keep you updated more with how things are going in Israel. So far all is good! Today is our last day on the water with Andrew, he flies home tomorrow then we are going to take 4 days off before getting back into training with a practice regatta (the Israeli Nationals) from October 1-4.

Thanks to Aquazoom for the photo! Training in Haifa

Wednesday, Sep 2 - Great Experience at Rio Test Event

posted Sep 2, 2015, 3:38 AM by saunders470

We've just returned to Nova Scotia for a short while from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where we competed at the Test Event for the Rio 2016 Olympics. We were selected to represent Canada at the regatta by the Canadian Sailing Team (CST). The test event is held exactly one year before the Olympic Games and serves as a trial run for both the event organizers and the athletes. All ten Olympic Classes competed in the regatta and we were one of five representatives selected from Canada.

Unfortunately we did not have access to our own equipment, which brought its fair share of challenges. We spent our first couple days in Rio in 25-30 degree heat working on the boat to set it up to our preferences, which unfortunately took away from valuable training time in the tricky venue.

Rio showed a variety of challenging conditions as we raced inside Guanabara Bay as well as outside in the open Atlantic. We saw everything from 2.5m waves and no wind to flat water, 12-14 kts and strong, variable current making racing very difficult. Overall we are happy with how we sailed in such a highly competitive fleet, and had some great takeaways working with Canadian Sailing Team coach Erik Stibbe, who will also be coaching us at the upcoming 470 World Championship in Haifa, Israel. We're really excited about the increased support from the Canadian Sailing Team!

We were a bit disappointed to have been called over early in our last race as it was our best - 8th across the line - but the disqualification for being over early meant we moved back overall in the results. Still a great race and a good event so we're happy overall! Results here.

The 2015 470 World Championship is the next Olympic Qualifier, where 6 more nation spots will be up for grabs. Our goal is to qualify in Haifa, although we have another opportunity to qualify Canada for the Olympics in Miami in January. There are many strong teams vying for only six spots in Haifa, so the level of competition will be very high.

Racing at the 2015 Aquece Rio Olympic Test Event. Photo Credit Pedro Martinez Sailing Energy

Tuesday, June 30 - Tricky Conditions in Aarhus, Up and Down First Day

posted Jun 30, 2015, 1:31 AM by saunders470

Yesterday was the first day of racing here in Aarhus, Denmark at the 2015 470 European Championships. We're racing against a relatively small but very competitive 60 boat fleet. In the first two days of the regatta we will race 5 races to complete qualifying series. Starting Wednesday the fleet will be split into Gold and Silver. The goal is to qualify for Gold Fleet by making the top 30 after 5 races. Right now we sit 34 after two races.

Our first race of the regatta did not go exactly as planned. We had a good start and found a nice lane after the start heading out to the right side of the course. We were one of the more left boats though and when we saw pressure building on the left side we decided to go for it with a smaller pack. We had identified the condition as one where it was just important to win your side, and not sail up the middle. Unfortunately the pressure left did not fill through in time and we rounded very far behind the leaders and the main pack. The conditions are very tricky with big wind speed and direction differences across the course. We had a decent comeback to finish 24 but we hope that race will be our drop.

The second race we missed the first shift slightly and ended up rounding the top mark in the middle of the pack. We sailed a good 2nd upwind though and passed several boats. After that we held our position to finish 12 in the race. Definitely happy with that race and hope to put in three more solid top 15's and some top 10's in today's 3 races!

Here is a photo of us reaching in to the finish beside our Belgian friends and the Russians:
Photo credit: Nigel Cochrane

Monday, June 8 - Tough Event in Holland, Training in Aarhus, DEN

posted Jun 8, 2015, 12:43 AM by saunders470

Delta Lloyd Regatta in Medemblik wrapped up last week. We did not get the result we were looking for at the event unfortunately. Our poor performance at this event caught us by surprise a bit. We seemed to be just making all the wrong decisions, and somehow couldn't find the speed we normally have in breezy conditions.

The poor performance meant that we did not qualify for the Sailing World Cup in Weymouth, which was our original plan. We've had to resort to plan B which is training in Aarhus, Denmark up until the Europeans at the end of June. The regatta in Holland was a bit of a wake up call about how little training we have done this season compared to how much racing we have been doing.

It could be that the tough event in Holland is a blessing in disguise, showing us that we need to train many more days than we spend racing. Right now we are doing a training camp with the Finnish girls Mikaela and Nikki. We're also going to do some practice races with the German teams who are here as well.

We took a couple days off after Medemblik to regroup and we're feeling much more positive and ready to put some hard work in these next few weeks.

Photo taken in Medemblik, Netherlands

Thursday, May 21 - Arrived in Medemblik, Netherlands for Delta Lloyd Regatta

posted May 21, 2015, 1:43 AM by saunders470

After a very productive trip home we're back in Europe for the next string of 3 regattas. First off, we have Delta Lloyd Regatta in Medemblik, Netherlands. This event is part of the EUROSAF Cup and is the qualifying event for the ISAF Sailing World Cup Weymouth in the UK. We are here with the goal of qualifying for the next world cup in Weymouth, and of course to get more valuable racing experience. Should we qualify for the World Cup, Weymouth is our next stop, then after the World Cup in Weymouth comes our European Championships in Aarhus, Denmark which will finish off the European season for this year.

Medemblik is known for two things, wind, and cold! Since we've been here it's been cold, rainy and windy, but that doesn't bother us tough Canadians too much... We're sailing on fresh water here which is definitely a shift from salt water so that always takes a little getting used to. The prevailing breeze is an offshore South/South West breeze bringing in all sorts of colourful smells from the farmland we're surrounded by in Noord-Holland :). That means often racing in puffy, shifty offshore wind and sailing in small chop. We're both very fond of the Netherlands of course, and we are very happy to be back here, despite the cold!

The regatta is always well organized and we have a solid fleet of around 40 boats registered for this event. It should be a great competition! You can follow the event here and we'll be posting regularly on our Facebook page.

Here's a photo from training yesterday taken by Canadian Sailing Team Coach Erik Stibbe:

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