Why does the Irish Fireball fleet persist in inviting Adam Bowers to a coaching session at the start of every domestic season?
To answer that question, I will begin at the conclusion of his end of session briefing on the Sunday afternoon and testimonies from people in different constituencies in the Irish Fireball fleet.
“I first came across Adam at a training session in the UK and made a point of going across for subsequent training sessions. He is a natural teacher, he could teach you anything, sailing, engineering…Now that I can access him here in Ireland, it makes it so much easier. He is excellent at what he does and he has the experience of doing it right at the highest level in regattas.”
“I was contemplating giving up on the Fireball, but this weekend has boosted my enthusiasm. I am now looking forward to the rest of the season.”
“First time I’ve seen my own sailing on video – great to have the input to how I can improve. Looking from outside the boat with expert advice has made a huge difference.”
Previous articles on Adam’s training of the Irish Fireball fleet may have come across as being a bit gushy – hail fellow, well met type commentary, but as these two statements confirm there is a persona about the man that makes him very easy to listen to. Additionally as a World Championship winning crew in the Fireball, a committed and successful Osprey and J24 sailor and a highly regarded coach to the UK Cadet Class, Olympic aspirants and the RYA, it would be difficult to deny that he has all the credentials to coach at the highest level.
We like him in particular because of his infectious enthusiasm for what he is doing, his attention to our requirements and the tailoring of the classroom and on-the-water sessions to the goals of the weekend. Over and above that he gave specific attention to three boats on the shore in terms of mast and rigging set-up. The combination of whiteboard work to explain the principles of what he is teaching, his own experiences of what he is trying to get across, the on the water exercise and the video footage to conduct the post-mortem afterwards means that everyone in attendance can follow what the weekend is setting out to achieve. An additional bonus this year is the fact that he brought sunshine with him.
From a Fireball Class perspective, the turnout this weekend was small, six boats on Saturday and eight on Sunday. For those who were in attendance, the advantage of the small numbers was that they got more one-on-one attention from Adam. There was more room to do the exercises on the water.
Objectives for the weekend were:
- Straight line speed (upwind and downwind)
- Starting techniques
- Tight spinnaker reaching
- Spinnaker handling.
And the weekend was rounded off with the three race, back to back, no discard, Porsche Cup.
Concepts that were covered over the weekend included:
- PSSSTT – Position, Space, Speed, Slippage, Time, Transits
- Fastest Speed – Shortest Distance
- Reducing the ability of other boats to RUIN YOUR DAY
- Stop giving away parcels of time – first reach, gybe mark, leeward mark, 2nd beat
- Importance of the long tack
- Importance of layline calls
- Communication – a quiet boat is a slow boat
- Spinnakers – 50% trimming, 50% communication
- Spinnaker handling – windward set with windward pole, drops, trimming
- Spinnaker adjustment – pole height, collapsing leeches – windward & leeward
- Boats whisper, rudders shout
- The concepts of Risk and Reward
- When does strategy start and how do tactics influence the strategy
- First beat is a race to the bottom of the 9th square
Weather conditions inside Dun Laoghaire harbour were ideal for the weekend. On Saturday morning we started in light winds and sunshine with the wind coming from the eastern quarter of the compass. As the morning progressed the wind strength gradually increased and became more blustery. Some people took a swim in the afternoon. On Sunday the wind had completely changed direction to blow from the south and west, was stiffer and topped off with grey skies. However, as the day progressed, the grey skies gave way to sunshine and the odd showers. The rain clouds had an interesting influence on the running of the Porsche Cup which was successfully defended by Noel Butler and Stephen Oram.
The weekend was hosted by the Royal St. George Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire, to whom we offer our thanks. Adam was hosted and chauffeured by Stephen Oram and Marie Barry and support for the event over the two days, in the form of rib drivers and crew was provided by Neil Colin, Margaret Casey, Alistair Court, Hermine O’Keeffe, Grattan Donnelly, Mick Creighton and Aidan Burke.
Thanks too, to those people who attended the course.