Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Brad Adam on Club 420 Racing

Photo by Grace Adam Photography

Name: Brad Adam

Sailing Accomplishments:

1st 420 Falmouth Regatta
1st 420 New Bedford Regatta
6th 420 US Sailing Youth Champs

1st 420 Brooke Gonzalez Clinic Regatta
4th 420 New Bedford Regatta
1st 420 North Americans
5th 420 Chubb Double Handed Championships
4th 420 Orange Bowl

What is the biggest adjustment you have to make moving from an Opti to a Club 420?

The biggest adjustment is definitely working with another person.  You have to get into the habit of not doing everything yourself.  If you are going to be successful in the Club 420, responsibility, for everything that happens, has to go to both sailors equally.  As much as you think you are capable of doing everything on the boat, you can’t do it as well as two separate people doing their individual jobs on the same boat.

I struggled with this a lot early on. I sailed with the same person for three years, but we had issues from time to time in our first year.  When we were in our second year together, we started working as a team.  Knowing what the other person needed to do was really helpful, and we improved a lot.  In our final year, we knew how to help each other out when the other was down, and did very well in some big regattas.

What are the biggest mistakes you see a lot of young sailors make when sailing the Club 420?

Honestly, when they first get into the Club 420, many of the younger sailors coming out of Optis are too serious.  They spend a lot of their time yelling and screaming around the course, when they should just calm down and sail.  Later on down the road, the good ones realize that this doesn’t get you anywhere.  They end up calming down and sailing, which helps them see the big picture.

What do you like about the boats? The class?

Initially, my size was a big factor for getting into the boats.  I was too small for many of the other boats available to me at the time.  Also, getting to use a spinnaker is really cool, and it prepares you for downwind sailing in a lot of other boats.  Most important of all, the Club 420 is the most competitive class in the country, especially at the top regattas like Youth Champs.

What is your training program like?

Just going out and getting in a lot of sailing is really important.  We did not have a coach this past year, so we would try to sail for at least half an hour after school.  We used a Go Pro® to get footage, and analyze it after sailing.

For the most part, there is not much structure to the training sessions.  We do a lot of long upwinds and long downwinds to improve on speed and boat handling.

What are your top 3 drills to improve upwind and downwind speed?

The best drills for this are tacking and jibing on the whistle, rabbit starts with grinds, and just going in a straight line for 15 minutes at a time.  These are all really simple, but they get the job done.

Do you have a fitness program? What do you recommend for a young 420 sailor?

I try to go to the gym for 30 minutes or so every week night, regardless of what I have done that day.  When I go to the gym, I like to do everything in one session.  For example, I will do cardio, legs, arms, and abs while I’m there.  I try to switch between exercises with as little rest as possible.  This way, when I switch between machines, I get a cardio workout as well.  I aim to do sets of ten, and pick a weight where I have to work hard to get that tenth rep.

If you could redo your youth sailing career, what would you do differently?

I would have gotten more involved in my actual high school, and encouraged more kids to join the sailing team.  I wish I had learned more about things like team racing, and it’s just not possible without more sailors getting involved in my school’s program.

You have done a bit of crewing as well.  What is enjoyable about crewing for you?

It’s nice to get the perspective, and see firsthand what the crew can and cannot do.  This way, you don’t expect more than is possible from the person you sail with.  It’s important to experience the learning process firsthand, and you will learn how to teach it more effectively.

To develop fast in the 420 class, what are the best regattas to do each year?

First of all, the most important things to evaluate for any regatta are size and location.  You want to sail at regattas with a lot of boats, and the location will often dictate that.  Make sure the event is a place that is easily accessible to a lot of groups of people.  East coast regattas will typically draw a larger number than west coast regattas.  West coast sailors are much more likely to come to a regatta out east than vice versa.  In the northeast, it’s not uncommon to get 100+ boat fleets in the summer time. 

Year in and year out, the best regattas are Youth Champs, Midwinters, Orange Bowl, North Americans, Buzzards Bay, Hyannis, Nationals, and Bemis.  Youth’s, Midwinters, and Orange Bowl are the most competitive.  How competitive regattas like Nationals are, will depend more on location.  Bemis is a great event to do, but because of the ladder structure, many of the qualifying events are more competitive than the final regatta.  Finishers outside the top five at Bemis would have struggled to finish in the top fifteen or twenty in our district’s first round qualifier.

There are a lot of clinics that are really helpful as well.  Brooke Gonzalez is where I learned how to sail the 420 correctly, the Neal Clinic is great, and the CISA Clinic is where I learned how to sail in breeze.  Brooke Gonzalez is also really great for college recruitment, as a lot of coaches come to the event to teach, and look at up and coming sailors.

Brad Adam

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