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Bruce Kendall's adventures in Europe

Bruce isn't racing windsurfers now, it's the Olympic class Tornado. This report highlights some of the differences and challenges he faces in travelling around Europe.
"A large part of a Yachting Olympic Campaign is the off the water work and challenges. Some Olympic Classes require more logistics and boat work and finances than others."

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The Tornado Campaign has been a big step up in boat work and logistics than a Windsurfing campaign. A windsurfer has about 6 meters of cordage and a Tornado has about 250 meters ? plus associated blocks and cleats. A windsurfer can fly with you excess baggage (although it can be very expensive) and the whole lot can go on the roof of a car. The Tornado can fit on the roof of a car (just) ? but the mast is too long to be legal.

Then there is the aspect of equipment development. Most of the Olympic Classes one can buy the same sails as the top performing boats. The Tornado is still in a development phase as people are still trying to find what works with the carbon mast. The 8 battens in the main sail each needs to be tuned to the sail and the conditions. Only one set of sails are allowed to be used for a regatta ? but battens can be changed from race to race.

‘International Paint supports Bruce Kendall and Brett Sellers 2008 Olympic Tornado campaign’ International Paint
A windsurfer can launch from any beach. All the other classes need to find a secure place to store the boat and launch from. This is not always easy in Europe. In Cascais Portugal there only two places one can sail from. These are going to be over loaded leading up to the World Championships in July. (As an aside, the places one can store a centreboard boat in Auckland near a launching spot are very limited.)

Then there are the costs? Equipment is only part of the equasion. I had to laugh when compairing our bag of bits on the sand compaired to the Tornado super trailers which generally have power and a dehumidifier etc etc.

Then there is the experience in a class. The Tornado class tends to retain its sailors competing at top level for many years more years than other classes. Mitch Booth and Roman Hagara have been in the class since the early 80?s.

Some people close to our Tornado campaign really question why I continue against such odds.

It is true that the regatta results I have had so far have not been even close to a podium finish. But most individual races have shown we can beat the teams that end up on the podium from time to time. Against all odds, we are in Europe working hard every day we can to learn more about how to go fast in all the different modes and conditions from the best in the world. We are modifying systems to help squeeze more out of the gear we have. We know we are making gains every day.

Currently a typical day we arrive at the boat an hour or three before the other teams and work on the ever changing boat work list and have breakfast. We have a debriefing with the other 4 teams we are training with and their coach for the previous day and a briefing for the current day.

We discuss weather, current, the drills races and the equipment we will use. We then have a quick bit to eat and hit the water. We do tuning and training drills followed by practice races for 4 hours. We then have an individual chat with the other teams to compare notes about the gear we used. Then back to boat work ? often until dark. 10 to 13 hour days. Then we drive to the shopping mall and eat at the food hall. Cheapest meals in town!

We have not been able to find free accommodation in Cascais ? unlike Palma and Hyeres. We have sayed in 5 different places in Cascais in our search to find inexpensive accommodation. We started off at 120 NZD a night and now we are staying at an Orphanage at 40 NZD a night. There are 13 beds in our room but only Brett and I are there. There only beds and one power out let in the room. We can see the sea from the room and we are only 15 minutes drive from the marina so we are very happy.

One of the constant concerns while travelling is being robbed. I am usually very security conscious almost to a fault ? as many who travel with me will vouch for. On the way from Hyeres to Cascais we decided to stop in Valencia and catch up with friends working with the America?s Cup. It is a long drive and it is about half way.

There were other Olympic sailors who had decided to do the same thing and we loosely planed to meet in Valencia. Along the way the Australian windsurfer Alison Shreeve (driving alone towing the Canadian Tornado Team coach boat) sent me a text say the trailer had a flat tire, the socket set and car jack she had didn?t work, and she was locked in her car on the side of the motor way 60 behind us. So we drove back and got her going and drove in convoy in to Valencia.

Arrived just on dark into Valencia and got lost. We planed to stay with Grant Beck and meet him at the entrance to the America?s Cup Village. With our multiple roundings at roundabouts trying to read the signs to find our way ? we attracted a lot of attention. Tornado on top of a small rental car, long wheel base Ford Van with a 6 meter Coach boat? In a back street, Allison let us know she had another flat tire on the back of her van.

I got out to help her and even though our car was parked right in-front and being watched ? we were robbed. My computer was stolen along with my travelling wallet out of the car. This is quite a set back to our campaign. A lot of information and a good inexpensive system for communication was lost. I always travel with two wallets. My travelling wallet has just cash and one credit card. The other has everything else and is well hidden in my biggest bag. The credit card I cancelled immediately ? but it means accounting gets complicated considering all the receipts in the stolen wallet and now another account is paying the bills? I hope my insurance covers a replacement when I get home in July?.

So enough time doing this ? got to get back to boat work and sailing. Lucky to find a free computer and internet at the local marina?

Next regatta is the Holland regatta end of May. Just need to find a way to get our mast there?. Most of the teams will leave there gear here and use another boat waiting in Holland.

by Bruce Kendall

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