I always do my best to be prepared both as a Coach and a Sailor, and attention to detail on race day can make all the difference to one’s performance. We need to remember that weather forecasts are just that, forecasts: they can be wrong (or often it is just a case of the timing being off).
Therefore, when heading to the water I always try and be ready for anything. More food and drink than I can possibly use (and in the case of the Coaching RIB, more fuel) and suitable clothes should the weather turn significantly hotter or colder.
For optimum performance during racing when I am working hard I need less clothing than whilst resting between races, or I would be too hot, therefore a warm jacket always comes in handy and yes the Coach boat can be the coldest place on the race course because you have all of the excitement and none of the physical activity.
With the advent of Covid-19 it has no longer been possible to store equipment onboard the committee boat at many UK events, so gone are the days of being able to have a jacket to put on between races, let alone taking 3 litres plus of sports drink with you. Therefore, we must find solutions to take care of ourselves.
For sports drink Maurten has been excellent, the best I have ever used: The drink which forms a gel in the stomach is far better at hydration than water alone and I came to the conclusion that carrying 1 litre bottle with me worked well (it is just a shame Maurten don’t do a 1 litre bottle). This means having 1 litre pre-racing, immediately prior to launching and then another, ready to go upon returning ashore.
Clothing has been more difficult because what you wear at launch time is what you are going to be wearing all day. Neil Pryde Sailing has an excellent range of gear with a wide range of cross over for what is appropriate for different conditions but clothing selection is still very important, remembering you need to be wearing what you need for racing rather than the conditions when launching because the weather can and does change rapidly this time of year.
Being locked into the boat is very important and just as I have worked with Gareth Griffiths to find the ultimate traveller (which allows you to sail higher and faster in medium airs) and South East Sailboats to find the ultimate control lines (so you can easily adjust the power in the sail) and lastly also thanks to Apollo Marine and Marlow ropes to find the ultimate hiking adjuster (so none of your kinetics is wasted). So, of course finding the best hiking gear is also key.
Wherever possible I try and use a 3mm Neil Pryde Longjohn. The extra thickness gives me more padding on the back of the legs and holding the hiking shorts firmer and ideally, we want zero movement in the hiking pads, so they feel like part of your leg. Of course I do wear the 1mm in extremely hot conditions (like we had in Melbourne, Australia) but try wherever possible to adjust heat transfer by changing the top layer in order: rash vest (for very hot), thermalite top, 1mm firewire top, 3mm firewire top (for very cold).
A tight fit is so important around the legs that I have recently changed from medium to small Longjohn in both 3mm and 1mm. It should be a slight struggle to get in the wetsuit when dry, so that it is a good fit when wet. Although no doubt some of the sizing change is due to me not being inside a UK gym so far this year (I was in Australia for the first 3 months and had my trip cut short and fly back very quickly when the Masters World Championships was cancelled due to Covid-19). As a result, after an initial weight gain, my weight dropped to 66Kgs when I returned to cycling but even when I am closer to 70Kgs, I am very much in favour as small a size as possible suit.
The Longjohn and long top combination work especially well because whenever possible I like to be fully covered up when sailing, whether to protect me from the sun in the summer or cold in the winter. With quite a few options to choose from (so far taking care of me in 5 to 30 degrees) careful consideration of what to wear is now more important than ever.