TEAM TTO sailor Andrew Lewis is expecting the warmer weather conditions in Japan to put him in a position of ascendancy over rivals more accustomed to cold water.
Over the weekend, Lewis wrapped up the competition phase of his preparation for the Tokyo2020 Olympic Games with the last of three events in the Netherlands.
Lewis placed 24th at the Netherlands World Cup 2021 Series at the Regatta Center in Medemblik, attended by most of the world’s top sailors. Those races — coming on the heels of a 32nd place and 11th place in two separate events in Vilamoura, Portugal in April and May — would have been in colder conditions, the usual fare for sailing in that part of the world.
But the Olympic sailing venue for the July 23-August 8 Japan Games — set to be Lewis’s third Olympic appearance — will be held in more familiar conditions to the Trinidadian athlete —hot, humid, variable winds and dark water — at the Enoshima Yacht Harbour in Fujisawa City.
The venue is in Kanagawa Prefecture, just over 50km south-east of Tokyo. It was built for the 1964 Olympic Games as Japan’s first-ever harbour capable of hosting watersport competitions with a capacity of 3,600 spectators and Lewis plans to benefit from the hotter weather conditions there.
“(I am) really, really excited to get to Japan to go and race, because one thing I really enjoy is racing in hot weather. One, it is a benefit to me because most of my competitors compete in cold water and in a lot of the more Nordic countries, and while I as a young boy have had a lot of tough times suffering in the cold, it is time for me to take a little bit advantage of them coming to the heat because Japan is going to be a very hot Games, similar to Trinidad and Tobago,” said the 31-year-old, who will be competing in the Laser category.
“In a way, it is time to bring the heat to them because this is what I was born in, that is what I grew up in, so I am looking forward to going to Japan and racing in the heat.”
This renewed focus also coincides with taper time — the period before a major competition when athletes fine-tune their techniques, reduce training loads and focus on mental sharpness and maintain intensity.
“Right now the tapering is very important, not burning out and being aware of potential injuries and gaining (an edge) but gaining smart so that being said, the Games are right around the corner and it is very exciting, despite the Olympics being held in a (Covid-19) pandemic,” Lewis explained. He also spoke about maintaining his “warrior mentality” with mentor Darren Farfan.
Lewis added that his preparation is progressing systematically and gradually. His main areas of concentration will be his starting technique and start segment of racing — a crucial and “massive aspect” of sailing in the open water, where sailors can gain an advantage if they are able to catch clean air.
It is an aspect Lewis has been struggling with but which has improved significantly over the last month-and-a-half of racing.
“There are a couple other sailing-specific things I will be working on with my coach (Javier Hernandez), things we have identified that we will be trying to really clean up and have them super-efficient, sharp and accurate in time for the Games,” Lewis said.
Back at his Tenerife, Spain base, Lewis will be joined by Olympic-bound sailors from Spain, South Korea, Portugal, Belgium and El Salvador among others, before he heads east to his ultimate athletic assignment.
“I am really happy with how things have been coming along. (There have been) a lot of good things to take away...Now I am going to take it in and reflect on all of the things that I have been working on and mastering and work in groups that we have in the training base,” he explained. “Not to do any more big races, going to start to taper here and put in a lot of time on the water, practising a lot of the things we were trying to shape up.“
There are now 42 days to the opening ceremony, with the sailing events at the Tokyo Games set to begin on July 25.