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02 Nov 2010

Innovative Joint 420 and 470 Clinic In Argentina

The 420 and 470 Classes collaborated to run an international coaching clinic in Buenos Aires, 26-28 October 2010. Organised by Fernanda Sesto, 470 helm at three Olympics, four experienced coaches delivered a very full 3-day training programme for over 60 sailors, together with six coaches from South American and Caribbean countries.

The primary purpose was to facilitate the development of 420 and 470 sailing across South America. In the event, there were participants from seven different nations, Argentina, Ecuador, Chile, Uruguay, US Virgin Islands, Italy and Spain. The event was led by Juan de la Fuente (Olympic Bronze Medallist in Sydney 2000), with Lucas Calabrese (Juan’s current helm), and Argentinean national coaches Agustin Zucati and Fernando Gwozdz.

The event was planned to take place between the two weekends of competition at the prestigious Semana de Buenos Aires at the Yacht Club Argentino. A handful of sailors with world class experience, were sailing at the Semana in preparation for the 420 World Championships to be held in Buenos Aires at the end of December, which gave added benefits for all.

Clinic Photos ....

The weather was perfect throughout. Winds blew 5-15 kts on the first day, 5-10kts on the second day and, finally, 15-20 kts on the last day. The main focus areas were boat tuning, boat speed, boat handling and fleet racing.

The daily schedule consisted of a morning briefing, followed by on-the-water practice. Once back onshore, coaches and sailors reviewed the practical sessions and the video recorded on the water was analysed at these debriefs. The training and debrief sessions were geared to enable the sailors to meet their individual goals.

Sailors from Ecuador, Uruguay, Chile and Argentina formed the 470 group. Most were new to the 470, and their main goal was to be improve their knowledge of the Class and learn specific information skills. One of the participants was Jonathan Martineti (ECU), who was the 2007 Optimist South American Champion and is now setting out on the Olympic pathway. The 470 sailors focused on boat set up and tuning, developing their technique, achieving better boat speed and practicing and improving their racing tactics.

The 420 group included sailors from Argentina, Ecuador, Chile, US Virgin Islands, Spain and Italy. Their level was very competitive, and some of them were experienced world competitors, such as the locals Pablo Volker and Agustin Cunill (ARG), Jordi Xammar (ESP) who is the reigning ISAF 420 Youth Worlds Gold Medallist, Benjamin Grez and his new crew Diego Gonzales (CHI) and the Italians, Eduardo Mancinelli and Leonardo Cucchiara (Bronze Medallists at the 2008 and 2010 420 Worlds), who won the “Semana de Buenos Aires”.

A significant motivation for the participating teams was preparation for the 2011 420 Open World Championships being hosted by the Yacht Club Argentino at the end of the year. The involvement of the more experienced 420 teams was helpful to those newer to international competition, including those from countries with relatively new 420 fleets, and it provided great experience of a larger, competitive start line. The competitors from outside Argentina were also keen to learn about managing the specific local sailing conditions.

420 sailors got to work on their technique in order to get their boats fast in the choppy conditions of Buenos Aires, with coaching to achieve better boat handling and were improve their racing skills, such as strategy, tactics and starts.

Both 470s and 420s sailed in the tricky “Rio de La Plata”, the shallow and very wide river which borders Uruguay to the north and Argentina to the south. These characteristics make the river very challenging for the sailors, who had to learn the skills necessary to be fast in it and get used to the typically strong and variable current.

And more ....

470 Class President, Stanislav Kassarov commented, “This is the second of two new joint training initiatives between the 420 and 470 Classes - the first was in Angola at the beginning of October. We will be evaluating both clinics when the 470 and 420 Classes meet during the ISAF Annual Conference in Athens, so we can best use our resources and expertise to develop performance sailing across the world and support the transition from 420 to 470. For 2011, the number of joint clinics is set to increase.”

José Massapina, 420 Vice-President (Development) was delighted at the success of this further initiative to develop 420 and 470 sailing in South American countries and continued, “This training clinic takes our work a step further to help build 420 fleets in countries that have not had so many boats in the past and to develop coaching skills and capacity to sustain performance sailing for the future. We held a very successful coaching clinic in Rio de Janeiro with Jim Saltonstall and have worked with Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Perú, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, and the US Virgin Islands, as well as with the longer-established 420 Classes in Argentina and Brazil. We are planning a further clinic in Perú. Meanwhile, I want to thank Fernanda Sesto, her excellent team of coaches and our colleagues at YC Argentino for planning and delivering a training clinic that has been very timely and evidently much appreciated by the sailors of several South American countries. We look forward to seeing them all at the forthcoming 420 World Championships in Buenos Aires.”

Significant thanks go to the Yacht Club Argentino, which put its staff, coach boats and full facilities at the disposal of the coaches and participants, thus assuring the great success of the clinic.

The sailors had some great feedback about their clinic experience:

Benjamin Grez, 420 & 470 sailor from Chile, said, “I liked the programme of the clinic, I think it was really good, the order how things were done, first tuning and boat speed, then manoeuvres and, at last, races, is a perfect order for learning. We learned a lot. The level of the coaches was high, and also we could sail with good sailors. The briefings and video sessions were also very useful for us. Now with my crew, we are just thinking of the 2011 420 World Championships, but after that we will be sailing during 2011 in the 470 trying to get to London 2012.”

Veteran 420 Argentinean crew, Sofia Tedin told us, “I am back to the 420 after some years. I had participated in two World Championships some time ago. For Luz, my skipper, and me, it was difficult to attend the clinic for the three days, but, as we need to learn more about the boat, we decided at least to be here today…..It was a really enjoyable experience, as we learnt from top sailors and coaches how to improve our sailing and boat setup. The material provided was very didactic and extremely useful. It was really helpful to watch the videos and improve on our mistakes. Even though the fleet was quite big, coaches managed to see, and give feedback to, all of us!! They did outstanding work. The organization was flawless, with a great balance of sailing and debriefs, all very well coordinated and with no unnecessary time wasted. We made the most of our time on the water and by listening and interacting during the pre and post sailing briefings.. We had a fantastic time, and this clinic is something we appreciate a lot, especially being so close to the Worlds that will be held here in early 2011. Hopefully we will get more of this as it gets the entire fleet really enthusiastic and looking forward to further top-level sailing.”

Agustin Rodriguez, 470 sailor from Uruguay, said, “it was a great opportunity for us to learn more about 470, we have been sailing the boat for more than one year but almost alone, so sailing together with sailors from Ecuador, Argentina and Chile was very important to improve our level. Lucas Calabrese helped us a lot; he is a very good coach. We hope next year we can participate in some 470 regattas in Europe.”

Maria Jose Cuccalon, 420 sailor from Ecuador, who is changing to the 470 next year after the ISAF Youth Worlds, told us, “in Ecuador we are just 3 boats so it is very difficult to improve. We found the clinic a good way to prepare for the 2011 420 Worlds, sailing together with high-level sailors and good coaches telling us our mistakes was what we were needing to reach our goals. We enjoyed this three day clinics. We liked the video sessions and seeing the 470 because next year we will be sailing in it!”

2010 ISAF Youth World Champion, Jordi Xammar (ESP) commented, “I just want to say thanks to you for making this clinic possible because we can sail together with people of different countries with very good coaches. We learnt a lot and also we have trained on the course we will sail at the 420 World Championship.”

Tomás Saez Raffaelli, 470 Argentinean sailor, said, “we have learnt a lot in these three last days, we sail in all conditions. We had also to work hard on the tuning of our boat. The briefing sessions with the videos helped us to see our mistakes and improve our sailing. We hope we can participate in another clinic like this one next year. We would like to thank the 420 & 470 International Classes that organized it.”

Images: © Fernanda Sesto