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420 Journal

The boys’ and girls’ Varuna teams join the 2024 420 Asia-Oceania Championships in Enoshima, Japan, from 30 April to 6 May., 2024



Each sailor has written his or her own story, posted here with their photos. We hope you enjoy their stories as much as we do!


Marion Grace Montgomery

It’s been about 3 months since Toey and I moved from ILCA 6 to 420, and we’re nearing the Thailand Nationals and International 420 “Asia-Oceania Championships in Japan. Honestly, I don’t feel ready. I know I’m the most ready than I can and will be, but it doesn’t feel like it yet. I’m nervous and scared to go up against the best 420 sailors in Asia with such little experience in the boat. But I can’t deny that Toey and I have made lots of progress. 


At the start of the year, I was quite frustrated that sailing this new boat didn’t automatically click for me. The heading is different, the way I have to tack is different, there’s an extra sail, and most importantly, I have an extra person on the boat with me. It was unfair of me to assume that we would be able to just pick this boat up in a matter of weeks, and sail to the standard that we sailed in an ILCA. It was weird having to focus on the 5 essentials again, re-learning how to go fast, and unlearning habits from the ILCA that just don’t translate into the 420. Sailing the boat wasn’t second nature to me, and I had trouble multitasking between focusing on speed and tactics. However, being an ILCA sailor did have its merits too, as it turns out that planing the waves on the run is quite similar between the two boats, and they’re equally as fun to me. It has taken a while for me to adapt to this boat, but I think that my understanding and ability regarding the 420 have both increased significantly, and it has taught me many lessons.


Though I now know more about the tuning and skills needed for a 420, the largest lesson I’ve learnt is about trust and compassion. When I first started sailing with Toey, I had a bit more experience in the boat than she did, as I had some one-on-one sessions with Coach P’ Riw prior to us pairing up. Toey had to learn how to sail the boat practically on the spot — competing in the Children’s Day Regatta in the second weekend of her sailing the boat. As I had a bit more experience, I didn’t quite trust her with some tasks that a crew usually does and I put it upon myself to do them. Once we started training, I found myself getting frustrated sometimes when she was a bit too slow putting the pole on, or getting out on the trapeze. It took me some time to realize that I was being so unproductive and unfair to her. She had a much bigger learning curve than I did; having to learn so many new skills since she had never been crew before. I realized that I needed to trust that she could do what she needed to do, and that she was going to do it well, she just needed time. I also realized that I needed to gain her trust. She needed to trust that I was going to do my part well, too; making the right strategic moves, going at the correct angles, trimming the sails well, and keeping the boat balanced enough that she felt secure on the trapeze. We’ve improved so much as a pair and I owe a lot of it to the fact that we’ve finally gained each other’s trust. 


So, I don’t know how we will perform in the up-coming regattas. We haven’t had many opportunities to sail against other boats, except for Petch and Bhoti. But, I know that we’re going to gain so much valuable experience, and that we’re going to do the best that we can. I’m already so proud of how far we’ve come as a pair, and I hope to make all of the people who have supported us up to this moment just as proud, too.


Toey

For Thailand National Championships 2024, I’m feeling much more confident and ready than ever. In comparison to when we competed in the Children’s Day Regatta, now I feel like we will be able to do better than before, probably because we have had a lot more time on the water to practice. At that time, I was just learning to sail the 420 and was put straight into competition. With these upcoming regattas, I feel a lot more prepared, and I’m ready to gain new experiences and knowledge. We will know our flaws, so we will know exactly what to focus on to improve even further. Another thing I had/still have to prepare is my mentality and my emotions. I'm afraid, excited and flustered all at the same time. I’m going to have to adapt to various situations that will occur, and check the boat’s equipment. When I first started sailing the 420, I didn't know anything about this boat, how to adjust it, or how to prepare it. As I continued sailing the boat, I started to know what to do.


For the Thailand National Sailing Championship 2024 this weekend, we prepared the boat ourselves for the first time, right from the process of loading the boat onto the trolley for transport. We also had to put the boat's mast in, assemble all the equipment, and check the boat to see if there's anything that needed fixing. When I first came down to YRAT after practicing at Varuna for several months, I realized that I needed to adjust quite a bit to dial well in these conditions.


At Varuna, the wind and the current are very strong, and the waves are much bigger. This is very different compared to Sattahip where the wind is quite light, the waves are small, and there is barely any current. The wind here is also quite difficult to sail in due to all the shifts and gusts. We have to be very attentive to the boat, making sure that it’s flat and not heeling to the windward or leeward side too much. When I sailed with Grace in Sattahip for the first time, we used a rope instead of a tiller extension so that we could capture the correct feeling again quickly, and practice balancing the boat well. It took a bit of time, but we were able to keep the boat stable and sail like we usually do in Varuna. On the downwind we practiced trimming the spinnaker correctly to the angle of the wind. The main thing I have to focus on is making sure that the spinnaker doesn’t flap or close.


I know I have a lot to work on, but I will sail to the best of my ability and I'm ready to learn, practice and do my best, both at the Nationals and in Japan for International 420 “Asia-Oceania” Sailing Championships 2024!


Petch

I think I'm ready for the Thailand National Sailing Championship 2024! Right now, I am feeling quite nervous and excited. The first thing we had to do when our boat was transported to YRAT 2 days ago was prepare the boat. At first I couldn't remember how to prepare it properly, but after a while, Bhoti and I figured it out as we went. We had to fix up and tune the boat ourselves, such as fixing the Mylar for the daggerboard. I’ve gained much understanding about the boat itself and I also had to learn about sailing with partner.


During the first week when I went to Varuna to practice with Photi, Kru Oat – the coach taught us more about how we needed to go about sailing the 420 and double-handed boats in general, and emphasized that there are two people on the boat, so we needed to support each other and realize that our actions affected both of us, not just ourselves as individuals. To put this into practice, Kru Oat had us practice tacks and gybes, so we could get used to sailing together. After that, we went to compete in the Children's Day Regatta, which was our first competition for the 420 boat. At first, I was very nervous because it was my first time competing in a 420. I was happy with our performance, considering we had very little practice prior. I learnt that we needed to improve on our downwind.  


The following week we had a new coach to teach us, namely Coach Riw. In the first week, Coach Riw gave us a detailed lesson on how to set up the boat. This is when I started to understand the boat itself, and how it was different from the boats I had sailed on before. After Coach Riw taught us about tuning the boats and the sails, he had us do speed tests with Grace and Toey’s boat in order to find the best setting for both of our boats to sail as fast as possible.


After that week, Coach Riw helped us solve our biggest obstacle - the downwind. It’s still quite difficult for me, but I think that I have improved a lot. I am now able to plane many waves at a time and I’ve gotten better at pumping the mainsail. We also had to practice using the spinnaker, which was new and unusual to us as it is an extra sail. After about 2 more months of practice, we competed in the Pattaya International Championship. I think we did quite well, and the competition helped highlight areas we need to improve, such as our starts and our heading on the beat and run. We’ve been working on fixing our mistakes, developing our skills further, and preparing for the upcoming long race before Nationals.

Bhoti



The Thailand National Sailing Championships and International 420 Asia-Oceania Sailing Championships 2024 in Japan are going to be the third and fourth competitions Petch and I will participate in as a 420 team. It is very exciting for me because it’s going to be my first time sailing in a big fleet in this boat. I’m feeling ready for the competition, and I’m eager to put all of the skills we’ve acquired over the last few months to use. 


When we first moved into this boat, we needed to rig the boat by ourselves since no one was free to help me and Petch at that time. First, we needed to put the mast into the boat. We didn’t know how, so we had to look at another boat that was already rigged and copy how it was rigged. It took us about 2 hours to fully clean and rig the boat. After that, I launched the boat and sailed on 420 with Petch for the first time. I was very impressed because 420 is a lot faster than Optimist and it was much more fun than I had expected.


That day, I agreed with Petch to continue sailing on 420 until the Children's Day Regatta, then we would decide whether to continue or not. On that regatta, there were 5 boats in total. That regatta showed us that we needed to practice a lot more to compete against other competitors. Particularly, it showed us that we were very weak on downwind because every time we came in first place, the downwind is when we would get overtaken. 420 has an extra sail (spinnaker) that is used during the downwind, unlike Optimists that have only one sail. Controlling the spinnakers is my responsibility as crew, and I needed to do it well because our boat would lose a lot of speed if the spinnakers flapped. Though it can be pressuring sometimes, since it’s such a big factor in our speed on the downwind, I enjoyed having it as a challenge.


After that regatta, we decided to continue sailing on 420 together and we planned to participate in the International 420 Asia-Oceania Sailing Championships 2024 in Japan. 


On the first of April, we joint Pattaya International Championship. This competition served as a checkpoint of our development since the Children’s Day Regatta. In my perspective, competition is like feedback because it reflects what you do well and tells you what you need to practice more. This competition showed us that our starts need much improvement because if you lose at the start, your chance of winning the race decreases by nearly half. Due to our bad starts, we had trouble performing as well as we thought we could have.


I’d like to thank everyone who has helped and supported me and Petch since the beginning. Petch and I are going to do the best that we can and put all our effort into these competitions, and I’m confident that we will be able to make you all proud.

Coach Riw

First of all, I would like to say thank you to all parents for supporting us all. It is an honor to be chosen to be the coach for these sailors. I have to admit that this is my first time receiving such an opportunity to be responsible for training anyone professionally. It has given me a different experience from any of my previous work and I think it has helped me to develop better teaching methods, both for these kids or anyone I may teach in the future. I’d like to commend these kids for their commitment to practicing and learning and thank them for listening and trusting me during the time that I have been coaching them. I, myself, learned various things from them as well, during the practice period of the past 11 weeks.

 

Even though our preparation and practice time was short, it has amazed me to see that everyone's development has improved more than I thought was possible initially. Obviously, they still make their fair share of mistakes, but I’m happy they do because I think that mistakes create opportunities for us to learn and develop to be better than before. Finally, I would like to leave this message to the sailors. In the championships in Thailand and in Japan, it’s going to be an incredibly valuable experience for everyone, including myself. Put your all into it and do your best because this is just the beginning.

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