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May 3, 2018 |
Coaching,  |

The last Hyères World Cup

It was with some sadness I travelled to Hyères in 2018 for the last Hyères World Cup. Hyères has been part of my life for well over twenty years and having probably spent an average of 3 weeks there every year during this time, I have effectively lived there for over a year of my life. A lot longer than I spent at some addresses in my younger life! From 2019 onwards, the European leg of the World Cup will take place in Genova.

The first three days we spent training in our little group: FIN, SWE, SUI, GBR and this time we used a camera mount from Imperial sailing attached to the back of the boats to provide detailed information about sheeting, steering and body movements. I deliberately did not say hiking, as the conditions (hot, sunny and very light winds) did not allow this.

Hyères was of course the final opportunity to qualify for the World Cup final in Marseilles. It is especially important to go here as not only will it be a very high-quality competition (with 25 entries rather than the 70 at the World Cups) but it is the first chance to test the 2024 Olympic venue in earnest. Although of course the weather at the end of May could be a bit different from that in August (when the Olympics is usually raced) any time at the Olympic venue is always useful – just like we were in Enoshima (2020 Olympic venue) in October last year.

Probably my biggest memory of the regatta was being put in a  box, and therefore not able to watch the racing other than on the excellent SAP tracking on my phone. I should mention that it was not just myself. All the coaches were in a Box (with the majority of us just anchored, although a few joked that having towed their sailors out they might as well go in for lunch now…)

Of course, there is a need to ensure fair racing and I understand that not all countries can afford top coaching but to prevent everyone from having coaching seems a very heavy-handed way of doing things as it is these top-class regattas we use to test and improve our sailors’ technical skills and it means non-World Cup regattas such as the Europeans, Palma, Medemblik and Kiel will now become a much more attractive way of enhancing our sailors’ skills. It was with a heavy heart I was unable to answer Tuula’s question when she asked why was XXX going faster than her downwind… I had to be honest, from just looking at the tracker I did not know.

There is another issue, which also affects the fairness of racing and that is reducing Coach boat wash (the waves/wake caused by RIBs going around the race track) but to stop coaches moving at all goes beyond heavy handed. At the moment it seemed we would just be required to tow the sailors to the course and probably provide safety cover if it was strong winds (remember nearly 70 boats and not a single designated rescue boat). The Coaches’ commission has already spent a lot of time on this and there was a series of meetings, and my hope is that the situation will move on in the near future.

Hyères was predominately a light air regatta: the famed Mistral wind never made it past Marseilles, so safety cover was not needed. Our main issue which in the light winds was a costly one was starting and fortunately this is something I was able to see and so this remains a key area of focus for progress this year. Long gone are the days you could win races purely on speed. A good start and good tactical decisions throughout the race are required for a single point finish at any World Class event.

The Last Hyeres World Cup

Jon Emmett has over 20 years of coaching experience from grass roots to Olympic Gold.