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Larson and Hall Prepare For 49er Class Olympic Trials

With AmericaOne training and testing in San Pedro now complete, the team has scattered briefly to their homes or other sailing venues. Some members are already in New Zealand. Crew members Morgan Larson and Kevin Hall will be late arrivals. They are in St Petersburg, FL, training for the U.S. Olympic Trials for the 49er Class which run October 16-24.

Update, September 26, 1999

Morgan Larson and I are in our final round of preparation for the 49er Class Olympic Trials to select the US team for Sydney next year. The trials will be held in St. Petersburg, Florida, October 16-24. We had been in St. Pete for a total of two weeks, and have just returned there from ten days off.

We'll be here for a month straight, living in a rented house near the St Pete Yacht Club and getting into the swing of the heat, humidity, and shifty breezes which the Trials will bring.

During our last training session, our Swiss friends Chris Rast and Bruno Zeltner used our spare boat to tune with us, doing tuning runs much the same way we did on AmericaOne, switching sides after each run and keeping track of results. Chris and Bruno are very fast on the international level in light air, which has been the weakness of ours we felt needed the most work.

As a result of some modifications to the profile of the rig which we made to have ours more closely resemble theirs -- specifically making the main flatter (even for light air and chop) -- and also as a result of some subtle techniques which our coach noticed they used and which we now emulate, our speed relative to them is much better, if not equal.

After tuning for a couple hours each day we move into boat handling and starting drills, with some short races at the end of our sessions. Chris and Bruno arrive tonight and we will be with them on the water first thing in the morning to refine what we are learning about setup, and maybe look at some experimenting with jib trim. Off the water the helmsmen have been going to the gym, I have been going on runs or long walks and stretching a lot, and Bruno has been maintaining his architecture company by email.

Our coach, Zack Leonard, has the difficult task of keeping it all productive, smooth, and fun, and he's doing a great job. This means balancing debriefs, jokes, cards, movies, emails to friends and family, and the odd Simpsons episode.

As the Trials draw close we will be looking to simulate the schedule and rhythm of the event as much as we can, practicing getting out to the course on time with the right rig tune, changing the rig if necessary, getting compass numbers, etc., making sure we have enough water and the right amount of food for a three-race day -- essentially planning to make the Trials seem like a string of "just another day of fun sailing in our 49er together".

The Trials will be eight days of racing, with a one-day break after the fourth day, so it will be a long event mentally. As we put the finishing touches on our preparation, our confidence continues to build. Stay tuned for updates from Morgan, Zack, and me throughout the Trials.

Kevin Hall
AmericaOne Sailing Team

For more in this series of reports, look at AmericaOne's Grand Prix Sailing News page.

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