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Scuttlebutt News:

Tommy Wharton
The success of the Canadian Laser team

(September 8, 2009) For 18 days of competition, the focus of the Laser class has been on St. Margaretís Bay near Halifax, Nova Scotia, which this past weekend completed the 2009 Nautel Laser Worlds and Master Worlds Championships. Nearly 450 sailors competed for these two titles, with much attention given toward the development of aspiring athletes in this singlehanded Olympic event.

As Canada was the only country with three sailors in the top 16 of the Laser Worlds, and considering that none of the guys have been traveling as much this year, Scuttlebutt asked National Team Sailing Coach Tommy Wharton to provide some insight on their training program. Here is his report:

Regarding the success of the Canadian Laser team (2 in top 10, 3 in top 16, 5 in top 35) I believe there are many key factors. Here is a short list:

1) Team worked together as much as possible.

2) Coach driven, athlete centered, sport science supported environment. We had two prior National Team camps in June (where American Clay Johnston joined in) and one in July (where we hosted GBR stars Paul Goodison and Nick Thompson - who ended up finishing first and third by the way - and their coach).

3) At these camps and during the Worlds event, we had a full court press of sport science - ie sports psychologist, nutritionist, meteorologist, strength and conditioning, and sport medicine and massage. All of these top notch support people were present in Halifax as they are contracted out of the Canadian Sports Center Atlantic. Having these people in the training camps prior and then the lead up to the Worlds ensured there were appropriate relationships between the athletes and the support people (so they were not just bombarded with support only at the peak event).

4) Split the coaching duties as we had a massive amount of Canadian representation. Our national team coaches (Brian Todd and myself) focused on the Canadian Sailing Team members in a pre-arranged fashion, and there were other Canadian coaches present who also supported their ranks. It was all about setting up a proper approach where there were no surprises, the athletes knew who was going to support them, and in what kind of fashion.

5) We used our home turf advantage as much as possible. Having our National Team qualifier at the same location in the fall of 2008, and then our training camps prior to the Worlds, our sailors were accustomed to the venue. They had great living arrangements nearby, brought their own bikes for fitness, had passes to the local gym, etc., etc. We tried to mimic their home environment as much as possible.

6) All the sailors were on the same page. This was their peak regatta of the year, their respective programs reflected this, and they all sailed exceptionally well. This never give up attitude; confidence in their program is perhaps best reflected in young Lee Parkhill (100 ++ at last yearís Worlds in Australian) who qualified second to last in Gold fleet this year. His consistency in the finals paid off as he hammered away at solid scores to end up 16th overall. That is a story to remember.

Anyways - there was a long answer to your question. Thanks for your support.

Click here for the 2009 Nautel Laser Worlds and Master Worlds website.

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