1. Stick to the 70:30 rule of competition.
Glancing at the SCYYRA calendar, your sailing schedule is already booked solid with regattas every weekend, but if you are really serious about getting to the top as quickly as possible, or about your performance at a particular event this year, you're going to need to cut back on the competition. The top athletes in the sport spend at least 70% of their sailing time training with only 30% spent in competition. The competition environment is important to get used to, and can be a great tool for evaluating techniques and improvement, but the real substantial improvement happens in practice, so clear some of your regatta weekends, find a good coach or a training partner to work with, and put some sweat in. Our Fall 29er Circuit is meant to provide frequent coaching opportunities outside of regatta time, so check out the calendar here, or the Fall Circuit Flyer here.
2. Join or a team or form a training group.
Whether you already have a local team training in your class of boats, or you have to scrape together a few friends to come chase you around in another boat, having a training partner on the water is an easy way to boost your training productivity. If you don't have a group already, start small by trying to get 2-3 boats together, one day per week. Even if you can't get a firm commitment from other teams, being the role model by committing to a weekly time slot goes a long way towards building a group in the future.
3. Solidify lessons and learn to feel the boat by sailing alone.
Sailing with other boats will expose your strengths and weaknesses, but solidifying new skills requires some undisturbed focus on whatever technique you are trying to lock in. Try to find a few days in your training schedule where you can go on the water alone to track your laser beam focus on one or two skills.
4. Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses on a regular basis.
The best way to get more out of every practice is to go into practice with a clear idea of the micro goals that you are trying to achieve that day. Try to set process goals - goals that you can control - every day. An example of a process goal would be, "I'm going to do 100 tacks", or "I'm going to focus on my hand switch." If you aren't doing it yet, consider tracking your skills and improvement using a SWOT Chart.
5. Schedule in practices to work on the fundamentals.
Especially as we get a few weeks into the season, practice plans typically begin to get more and more racing oriented, but one of the most important things you can do to keep your learning curve steep is to schedule in days to take a step back and work on the fundamentals. Sail rudderless to hone your instincts, sail with your eyes closed to work on feeling the boat - there are tons of ways to keep the basics fun, but ultimately, returning to these skills will refresh your learning curve and bring new perspective into your racing drills.