It’s not a Failure, It’s Steps to Success

7th Place finish at the 2023 French Olympic Week in Hyeres, France after finishing 4th in Silver Fleet at the Princess Sofia Regatta.

Our months of March and April by the numbers:

  • 8th Place at the 2023 Mallorca Sailing Center Regatta
  • 29th Place at the 2023 Princess Sofia World Sailing World Cup
  • 7th Place at the 2023 SOF French Olympic Week

The 2023 Princess Sofia Regatta kicked off our 2023 international racing season with over 100 49er teams in attendance. Over the course of the 5 day event, we sailed in conditions ranging from 7 – 15 knots and sunny skies. Overall, we underperformed at Princess Sofia this year by finishing 29th (4th in Silver), but learned some good lessons about how to better balance risk and reward, especially in qualifying, which will be very valuable to our team as we move forward in our campaign.

Sailing Energy

Our challenge and takeaway from the Mallorca Sailing Center Regatta earlier in March was to figure out a way to minimize the point differential going into the final series between us and the top teams. By finishing 8th at the Mallorca Regatta, we were still 15 points from 3rd and 25 points from 1st, so we challenged ourselves to find ways to minimize that point gap. This led our efforts going into the Princess Sofia Regatta qualifying series to really fight for what we thought would be a top 5 position off the line and try to close down races earlier. The GPS tracking from the Mallorca Regatta showed that our speed around the track was great, so it really would come down to a matter of execution and decision making. 

In qualifying, we accomplished the goal of being in the right place and going the right way in each of the 5 qualifying races off the line. We recognized the “correct” thing to do in each race. In 2 of 5 qualifying races we executed and finished with a 1, 2, but in the other 3, we failed to adapt and then execute which resulted in 3 scores outside the top 15. These results inevitably left us outside the gold fleet cut off by 4 points. Hard to swallow, but progress is working to learn how to better identify where risk is worth it and not and to not let these mistakes repeat themselves again. “It’s not a failure, it’s steps towards success.” – Giannis Antetokounmpo

Sailing Energy

Moving forward, we decided to change our schedule to include the French Olympic Week in Hyeres, France in late April. Originally, we were going to train domestically in Santa Cruz, CA and work on some heavy air boat handling, but we as a team felt like we needed to go back out, tackle another regatta, put together a performance we know we are capable of and continue to grow our confidence in the international fleet. And, that’s exactly what we did!

After a quick turnaround, we competed against 71 other 49er teams at the 54th annual SOF French Olympic Week in Hyeres, France. Once again, we were met with great sailing conditions ranging from 8 – 30 knots. During the 6 day event we completed 13 races and 1 medal race and averaged a 7th place finish over the course of the qualifying and final series! In comparison to Palma, in Hyeres we executed our qualifying series perfectly and, through out the rest of the week, found ourselves bouncing in and out of the top 3! Our event ended with us in 3rd place going into the medal race with the mathematical opportunity to finish anywhere from 1st to 8th. Unfortunately, we couldn’t quite capitalize on our momentum by finishing 9th in the medal race, and subsequently 7th overall, but this result was exactly what our team was looking for from this event and boosts our confidence that we are indeed a team capable of fighting for podium finishes.

Sailing Energy

Currently, we are taking some time off before we jump back into training on May 9th in The Hague, The Netherlands with our Irish and Dutch international training partners. The Hague is going to be hosting the 2023 World Sailing World Championships this coming summer, which will be the first opportunity for the U.S. to qualify the country for the Olympics, so we are looking forward to spending time getting used to the venue and learning what we can to better prepare ourselves for the 2023 49er World Championships. Post training in The Hague, we will move to Marseille, France in June to prepare for the Olympic Test Event!

Sailing Energy

We would like to thank the Windmark Sailing Foundation, the St. Francis Sailing Foundation and all of our recent donors, especially Brian Keane, for all of your support in our 49er Olympic Campaign. Our success is due to your belief in and commitment to our team and we can not thank you enough! Please stay tune for more updates and photos throughout the next couple weeks both on facebook, @barrowshenkenracing, and on instagram, @hanshenken as we look to start training in The Hague.

Thank you StFSF!
Photo: Allison Chenard – US Sailing Team
84 FTW!

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