The travel schedule meant that the team met at Heathrow (T5) at 0700, for a 0910 flight. Our route then took us (via a 2 hour stop off in Madrid) to Santo Domingo Airport, the country’s main international airport, and rather conveniently only a 10 minute drive from the hotel, but more on that later. Travelling with the team (5 sailors, coach and Team Leader) were the “support crew” compromising of a couple of parents, lots of siblings and even a cousin ( Sarah S-B who was with us in Kiel).
All went well with the meeting at Heathrow, bar one sailor being over an hour and 15 minutes late. The rest of the group checked in and got the sails through with minimal fuss, and headed for the gate. Luckily for the other sailor he managed to check in and reach the gate just in time for a slightly delayed boarding.
The Madrid stopover involved two main things. Lunch, and a quick chat about rules for the week. With the rules, it was decided that it would be the sailors themselves who would come up with them, and agree them as a team, so that everyone was clear and agreed. (PS there was also some minimal input from Tim and Carla).
The key things that were established were:
- Bedtimes and sleep routines
- Morning and boat-park plans and routines
- What different sailors would like Tim, Carla and the other sailors to do when they have had either a good or bad day.
- Not distracting, or misleading other members of the team. (and an anonymous and no-consequence system for sorting out potential issues)
The sailors were then also allowed to nominate a slightly more light-hearted “pet-peeve”. The agreement was that if another sailor or coach broke these rules then press-ups would be administered accordingly! The idea behind this is to remove the little things that raise tension amongst the group, and have a bit of fun doing it! Some of the things the sailors came up with included:
- · No arguing about whose sail, or sailing kit was better
- · No touching of other peoples sunglasses or headphones
- · No calling other people lucky after they had a good race
- · No telling fibs
The 8hr30 flight from Madrid to Santo Domingo was made somewhat less attractive by the lack of tv screens in the seat headrests. However, the situation was dragged back to acceptability through a combination of iPad’s, music, PSPs, and would you believe it, old-fashioned books and even some sleep.
Photo of the sailing club - taken last year
There was a pleasant surprise waiting for us at the airport as the team was met by a dedicated official to fast track us through immigration, visa queues, and passport checks straight to baggage reclaim. All the bags and sails have arrived expect for the “late sailors” sail, which we expect may have struggled to make the plane in Heathrow.
Having got the lovely, air-conditioned, shuttle bus the short distance to the hotel (arr. C1930) there was then a short delay whilst Carla queued to check us in. This allowed the sailors to catch up with many sailors from other countries (including NED, NZL, GER, USA and others) and the coach to chat to some of his other colleagues about what had been happening so far, what the wind has been doing, and plans for the upcoming days (also including some very useful tips about what drinking water is ok, where the supermarket is!)
Between the Team we have four rooms. All rooms are large and spacious with en-suite bathrooms, and are clean but fairly basic. On a plus side, all rooms have good, functioning air-conditioning and the sailors typically got the two rooms with the nicest bathrooms. The sailors are divided between two of the rooms and each have a double bed, and plenty of storage space to themselves.
Sailors and Team Leader are now all sleeping in preparation for a busy day tomorrow. The plan is to sort out the charter boats so that they are ready to race, and then begin to establish our morning, boat-park and training routines with a session on the water in the afternoon if at all possible. We will also try and upload some photos of today!