April 14, 2011 - With the transom of their 470 labeled “Unfinished Business,” Erin Maxwell and Isabelle Kinsolving Farrar are clear on their goals for the ISAF Sailing World Cup circuit and, in particular, their quest for a 2012 Olympic berth. At last week’s Princess Sofia Trophy in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, the 2008 World Champions finished 5th overall, with a notable second-place in the final medal race. After a few days rest, USSTAG asked the pair to reflect on racing and where the adventure continues.
USSTAG: Congratulations on your 5th place overall. Why was this event important to you?
Erin/Isabelle: This event was important to us because, while it is the third 2011 ISAF World Cup regatta, it is the first regatta in our final push toward the Olympic Team Selection in June and December and, hopefully, the Olympics. We were hoping to have a good finish to build momentum leading up to our Olympic Trials, the Sail for Gold Regatta, in June in Weymouth.
USSTAG: Describe the medal race highlights for you two, from your perspective.
Erin/Isabelle: One of the highlights of the medal race was formulating a plan, executing it, and having the plan pay off. We thought the left would be favored, and knew we had to have a top two finish in order to move up to 5th place. So, we decided to win the pin, go left, and see how things played out. We were in 2nd place at the first windward mark, and maintained that position for the rest of the race!
USSTAG: What were your strengths in this regatta?
Erin/Isabelle: Our greatest strength in this regatta was that we never gave up, and fought to always keep passing boats, regardless of whether we were 10th or 35th. We consistently passed many, many boats downwind. In an eleven-race regatta where we ended up tied for 5th, and only one point ahead of 7th, each point was extremely important.
USSTAG: Any lessons learned that you’ll take to the next event?
Erin/Isabelle: At the Princess Sofia Regatta we learned a valuable lesson, in that we began to understand how to identify and play a persistent shift while racing upwind. Our tactics are very strong in oscillating shifts (where the wind shifts back and forth), but have always suffered in persistent shifts. We had a breakthrough on Day 4 of the regatta where we played a persistent right shift correctly on the second upwind beat of Race 7, passing about 8 boats. We were again able to identify a persistent shift on Day 5. We are looking forward to honing this new skill!
USSTAG: What is your goal for French Olympic Sailing Week (in Hyeres)? Can you talk specifically about the event and its place in your training toward the Selection events?
Erin/Isabelle: Our goal for the French Olympic Sailing Week is to improve our starting and our upwind speed. This is the last World Cup Regatta that we will compete in before the Selection Events start in June at Sail for Gold, so we are also looking to continue to refine our racing tactics and strategy.
USSTAG: How much competitive sailing do you do in a typical season?
Erin/Isabelle: For us, the competitive sailing season ramps up now! The majority of our racing in 2011 will happen during the next five months. Starting with the Princess Sofia Regatta and ending with Olympic Test Event in Weymouth in August (that we must qualify for at the Sail for Gold Regatta), we will race in a total of six regattas. These coming months will provide opportunities for us to continually test ourselves against our competition, and see how we stack up. The fall brings intense training at home, before heading over to Australia in November for the last of the selection events.
USSTAG: Speaking of Hyeres, Isabelle, speaks French, correct? How does this help your European travel?
Erin/Isabelle: Isabelle's language skills help us tremendously with European logistics. She speaks conversational Spanish, and is fluent in French. This is extremely helpful when, for example, one of the landlords that we are renting an apartment for in Hyeres only speaks French! Plus, for Isabelle going to France always feels like going home on some level... And the food is so good!
Dave Johnson photos