Proper Preparation Prevents Poor PWA Performance. Part 1

Ever wondered what the top pro riders do to focus themselves before a vital heat or race? Try to compare the pressure of sailing in front of crowds, cameras, critical judges, and sponsors, with your average fun sailing session, and you’d understand the need for some specialist preparation skills. We asked some top players their techniques, where and who they learnt them from, and how they’ve improved their game.


1. What you think about and do to focus, relax, or get amped-up before a race or heat?

John Skye (K-57 F2 / North) ‘I try to relax. I don’t sail well if I am too amped, I like to sail chilled and happy’

Micah Buzianis (US-34 JP / NeilPryde) – ‘I try not to think about to much, just try to relax make sure all my gear is properly tuned and keep it simple’

Nayra Alonso (E-4, Fanatic/ Severne) – ‘I try to keep calm, breathing deeply and slowly and looking to the sea’

2. What are your techniques, your mental reminders and thought processes?

John Skye – ‘My best technique is to sing a song. I have a favourite song and sing it out loud just before the heat, or if things are going wrong in the heat. It stops me thinking too much about what’s happening and focus on the words’

Micah Buzianis - ‘I try to make sure that I get out and sail the course before my heat and make sure that my body is properly warmed up.  I also go through a couple reaches full out to make sure everything is running right.  I also have a starting routine that I do with the 4 minute start sequence, I think a routine helps to make sure you are properly prepared’

Nayra – ‘I try to feel all my body, if I am in tense that is bad. So I try to let it go. And I try to feel myself strong and able to handle everything’

3. Who taught you or influenced you in your thinking?

John  – ‘I came up with this system myself. But the theory behind it was from my coach at the time Jem Hall’

Micah – ‘I have three very strong influences in my life. The first is my father; he is a very meticulous person when it comes to preparation and organization I have learned a lot from him in this.  The second is Pierre Jeangirard. He is the person that really got me into racing and taught me how to prepare and how to race and to keep it simple.  Thirdly, Scott Sanchez has taught me how to prepare my body, and how to keep it running during competition as well as to help keep me motivated and focused’

Nayra – ‘I have read things about it and also I just try to make myself feel better and don’t have a bad time’

4. How did you start, and how does this system works for you?

Micah – ‘All the techniques were learned from my Dad, Pierre and Scott as well as watching some other racers like Bruce Wylie and Phil McGain.  I try to be very observant and learn as much as possible from other people that are more experienced, or that I think know what they are doing.  It seems to me that all the systems I have incorporated from these people are working very well for me, from preparing my equipment before a race or the season to preparing my body’

John – ‘The song I use is from my favourite windsurf movie, and I used to listen to the song to get in the mood. In the end singing it got me in the mood and I could sing it on the water without needing a stereo/ipod’

Nayra - It started when I realised that if I was relax and confident, I do much better and the times I am stressed and tense and tight I mess it up!’

5. Did you have difficulty before you used a system to prepare, and has it made your performance better?

John – ‘For sure its difficult and the singing doesn’t always work, but its something to help. (One time I sailed against PWA judge Paul Hunt in a heat at home in the UK. He knows my song and technique, so he sung ‘Jamilia – “Super Star”, hoping it distracted me. In the end though he got it stuck in his own head and lost the heat!! Brilliant!!)

Micah – ‘I think I did have difficulty with my racing before I learned how to properly incorporate all that I learned.  But I think the thing that has helped my performance the best is the people that I have had around me supporting me.  From my family to my close friends to my testing team with boards and sails, I think right now I have the best of all these things and for me this allows me to be relaxed and confident in my training and preparation.  With this confidence I can go into a race knowing that I have an advantage and this really helps to be able to perform at my best’

Nayra – ‘Yes, all the time. I get very stressed in the competitions and tend to think, “I HAVE to do well”. But this just doesn’t work for me’

© PWA / Brian McDowell