The River Giveth

Mantra 3. Play with Purpose : Ask ‘Why?’” – All Blacks

Our camp by the numbers:

  • 11 Days
  • 7 Double Sessions
  • 302 Miles
  • 29.13 Hours in 18+ knots
  • 60 Tack Bear – Aways completed
  • 80 Gybe Round Ups completed
  • Top Speed hit: 23.2 knots against current

After 2.5 weeks of some amazing sailing in Cascade Locks, Oregon, our 3rd 49er training camp of the summer is in the books! We came to the Gorge in hope of getting some epic conditions and the river totally delivered! The Gorge provided 11 days of solid sailing in the upper wind range. We sailed 3 days in 13-17 knots, 5 days in 17-23 knots and 3 days in 23-27 knots. During all of these sailing days, we sailed in a steady, westerly breeze, which opposed the direction of the flow of the river. This created very short and steep chop and waves, which only added to the difficulty of the sailing conditions and, overall, immense value to our training.

The Gorge gave us the opportunity to Play with Purpose. With the training venue only 3 mins from the launch, we had the ability to execute on very specific goals on the water, come in for lunch, talk about what went well and what needs to improve, and then, go right back out onto the water and do it again right away! The feedback loop was incredibly tight and we took full advantage of it. We constantly “Asked Why?”. Why is this the best way to gybe? Why is a tight forestay fast? Why does pulling the board up help with stability? We are striving to be the best we can be, and therefore, constantly challenged the status quo and looked for every inch we can get in our sailing.

Here is a list of the skills we practiced and the takeaways that we learned:

Mark Roundings:

  • Tack to Bear-away Kite Hoist
  • Kite Douse to Two-Sail Gybe Round Up

Speed Tuning:

  • Helm Driving Technique 
  • Specific Batten, Cunningham and Vang Manipulation
  • Targeted Rig tuning and Jib set up ideas focused on efficient depowering techniques


  • Tacks: Jib and Main Placement into Tack and Syncing of Rate of Turn and Body Weight 
  • Gybes: Settling Time and Heel Control out of Gybes

Key Takeaways:

Mark Roundings:

  • Consistent and continuous rate of turn 
  • Windward mark – tack bearaway – loose leech tension on both the main and jib early in maneuver accomplished with tight cunningham, loose vang, and loose sheet tension, specifically on jib
  • Leeward mark roundings are getting more consistent, especially when both helm and crew move together and with decisive teamwork

Speed Tuning:

  • Quick, consistent and deliberate steering through puff and lull sequence to keep the bow down to minimize main sheet range and help boat stability
  • Erring on the lower side of the jib tack allowed for more freedom to keep the bow down and tracking through puffs


  • Keeping both wings out of the water in tacks was the most important aspect of a good tack which required crew and helm to be ahead of the turn
  • Smooth rate of turn and body movement into gybe coupled with keeping the bow low of exit angle before both crew and helm are ready to hit the wire

We would like to give a big thank you to the Columbia River Gorge Racing Association for hosting us for the last two and a half weeks. We truly appreciate all the help and support and how open and welcoming CGRA has been to allowing all of the US 49er Teams to come train as a Squad. We all had a fantastic time and look forward to coming back soon! Thank you to Skiff Master, Charlie Mckee, for spending the time to come coach our squad and not only provide top notch coaching, but also invaluable mentoring for our squad as we continue to move through these uncertain times. As well, we would like to thank the US Sailing Team, US Development Team and Quantum Sails for all the help and support in making this camp happen. We would not have been able to do this without you! Thank you! Finally, we would like to thank Mark and Cece Neumann for providing our squad with amazing housing and support by letting all of us stay in their beautiful home! Thank you so much! Can’t wait to come back again!

We are all looking forward to taking some well deserved time off and we look forward to being back on the water by the 1st of September!

Windmark Foundation

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