I interviewed National and World champion Aussie sailor Roger Blasse about preparing for a race or regatta and parts of that chat are reproduced below.
Roger has won 11 National and 2 world championships in the OK class and is a front-running competitor in the International 14’skiff class.
He is also a past commodore of the Black Rock Yacht Club in Melbourne Australia, serving many years in various committee positions.
Success is the icing on the cake and if you ask Roger why he continues to compete he has said that the real reason is not to win things but because of all the friends that he has made around Australia and the world.”
Brett: So do you have any secrets to preparing for a regatta? Do you have anything that you do to prepare yourself mentally and your boat?
Roger: The first thing I think you need to do is you need to decide whether you’re going to do the regatta or not.
And usually, I think like three-quarters of the year or nine months out, you need to make that decision. And as that time gets closer I mean obviously the first things you’ve got to work on is you got to take…practicing in sailing and so forth and working on your fitness.
Brett: So what do you do if your boat is away for two or three months, do you try and borrow another boat or do you have two boats for instance?
Roger: Well thankfully in the OK I’ve got two boats but if I didn’t have that I’d try and borrow a boat.
Unfortunately, with a 14ft skiff, it’s a little bit different because people are less inclined to lend you a boat and they’re all very different. So I guess with the 14 you’ve got to probably just try and maintain your fitness and maybe sail other boats while just keeping your tactics and your strategies in tune.
So I think the other thing you got to make sure is make sure that the venue you’re going to, that you’re going to be suitable.
That you’ve got the right gear and so forth and you have the right weight. I mean particularly if you try to maybe get into the top 10 boats or something like that you have to make sure that the boat, the gear you’ve got is at World pace.
And that if it’s going to be a light regatta you’ve prepared for that, if it’s going to be a windy regatta likewise prepare for it and things like that.
Brett: Weight is critical in every class I guess. So what do you do to lose weight or whatever, have you got any particular techniques or you’re trying to stay the same?
Roger: I’ve got plenty of techniques. The question is whether they work or not. But look yeah I think I probably what I’ll do is I probably could lose maybe three or four kilos or something like that.
I haven’t been very successful in losing lots of weight. But I think what you do is you manage your expectations. So you have a better understanding of how well you go.
I mean if you’re a big bloke and you’re going to Worlds that would potentially be light then you need to have think about your rig, maybe shed a few pounds or so forth.
But manage your expectations and come up with a clear idea of how well you’re going to go.
Brett: So speaking about the venue, how do you gather local knowledge regarding wind, currents and weather? Have you got a particular thing you do?
Roger: I think it’s just like a group of a lot of things. The first step is to maybe have a chat with people who’ve been there before which is very important.
And obviously, even if they’re outside your class, have a look when the last Worlds who’ve been there or even read, maybe get on the website and have a look at the report.
Have a look at the results and see where some of the Aussies went and just from the people who have been there you’ll understand whether they are a light or heavy crew and so forth.
I think the next thing is to get on the internet. There are plenty of sites that you can have a look at and just check what the winds are going to be like during that period.
Download PredictWind or something like that and just have a good understanding of what the conditions could be.
As we all know sometimes the weather isn’t exactly what it’s meant to be.
Just often go with the knowledge it will be what it will be and you have to adapt to what the wind strength will be and the conditions.
Brett: So you get your head around that a bit before you go to the regatta?
Roger: Yeah you shouldn’t…like if you’ve got, you think, “It’s going to be a windy regatta, it’s going to be fantastic, we’re going to go really well,” you got to be careful that you don’t go with that preconceived idea on the regatta.
The first day is a light one and you just haven’t got your head around…everything is out the window, you haven’t just gone with a one-trick pony type thing.
I think it’s very important to check the weather and find out that you’re going to be comfortable when you’re there and be on the pace.
Brett: You do pick a lot up from mixing with other people at regattas. Food and drink is the fuel that keeps us going, do you look for the best restaurants and supermarket?
Roger: I think that’s a big part of that getting there three or four days before the regatta.
You pick up where you can eat, you pick up where the supermarket is. And you can stock up where you’re staying, the type of food you like and what you want to eat in the morning.
So I’m not fussed about the type of food I eat. Like all I suggest is that you eat reasonably well. Pick foods that aren’t going to upset you during the race or something like that so don’t have a spicy…
Be mindful that the tap water might be OK but it might just set your stomach off a little bit.
So just try and be careful, drink some bottled water for the first few days until you’re acclimatized a little bit.
I would try a few restaurants maybe pick a favourite one that you’re happy with. You might just go there two or three times in a row because it’s easy.
For breakfast, I think it’s important that you have a reasonable breakfast beforehand. Sometimes I’m just mindful if it’s an early start that having a big meal prior to racing within an hour is probably not ideal. In general, have a good breakfast and then obviously refuel after the race.