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Thread: Hard Core Performance Training Pays Off At 5o5 North Americans

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    Hard Core Performance Training Pays Off At 5o5 North Americans

    By Lynn Fitzpatrick

    Annapolis, MD, September 20, 2015) - The breeze was on for the final day of the 505 North American Championship and Howie Hamlin and Andy Zinn had to beat Ethan Bixby and Christopher Brady in the final race of the series to take the title. They did it in style by posting three bullets for the day. The pair won the NA’s for the second year in a row, making it Hamlin’s eighth 505 North American’s title. Not far off the pace were Riley Gibbs and Reeve Dunn, Hamlin and Zinn's training partners from Long Beach, CA.

    Hamlin has been sailing 505’s for nearly 40 years. No doubt he has talent. No doubt he has skill. No doubt he has seen it all. What keeps him at the top of the class is also what makes the class so good. It’s the open invitation to spar with the best every Tuesday night out of Alamitos Bay Yacht Club in Long Beach, CA.

    When Riley Gibbs, now 19 years old, was barely tall enough to peer over the sides of Hamlin’s 505 in ABYC’s boat yard, he asked Hamlin if he could be his tuning partner when he grew up. A couple years ago, Gibbs’ wish came true. Gibbs drives Hamlin’s spare 505, he trains on Hamlin’s other performance racing boats, and he surfs with Hamlin.

    All images © Dan Phelps / Spinsheet

    “Of all of the kids over the years, he’s probably the fastest out of the blocks,” beams Hamlin. “He pushes us at home. He’s taught us some tricks about sailing in smooth water too.”

    Hamlin and his Tuesday night sparring partners don’t play in the flat waters of the “kiddy pool” inside Long Beach’s breakwater; they sail in the 2,000-foot deep trench between Long Beach and Catalina Island and are always looking for incremental gains. They move crews around, swap drivers, trade information, and debrief long after the sun sets.

    Gibbs’ first visit to Annapolis this year was for the High School Championships. Unlike the other kids who beelined it to APS and browsed for baseball caps, sun glasses and smocks, Gibbs was on a mission to buy parts and line to rig Hamlin’s spare 505. He truly was a kid in the candy store, sending images to Hamlin and getting the okay to snap up parts to trick out Hamlin’s fleet. “Riley is a rock star, mechanically. He has a facility to look at things and rig it so it works. He’s done a great job.”

    Gibbs, a natural, credits Hamlin and the training program with his development, saying, “It makes things easy when you’ve got the best in the world to train with.”

    Truth is, everyone involved in the program has done a great job. Reeve Dunne, who recently moved to San Francisco, has been crewing for Gibbs. The pair posted a 3, 6 during the first day of the NA’s in very light air, which landed them in third place for the day. Not bad for a skipper who had never participated in a 505 regatta before. They popped out of the blocks on the second day with a bullet. After mixing in the top half of the fleet for a few races, the rookie team sailed like champions in the heavy air on the last day, picking the shifts and tacking more than usual rather than going for straight line speed.

    Look for great things to come from Gibbs, who won the 2013 29er US National Championship as a crew, sails 49’ers, and can’t get enough of foiling kiteboarding. “It makes things easy when you’ve got the best in the world to train with,” says Gibbs.

    Good on Hamlin for his high performance development effort. From the outside looking in, the results prove that the master-grasshopper relationship is in perfect balance.

    Want to train with the best? Participate in the 505 October 8-11 training session in Long Beach.

    2015 505 North American Championship Results -
    Last edited by Photoboy; 09-21-2015 at 01:37 PM.
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