Continuing our series is Tymo Bendyk, the POL ace and Olympic Nacra 17 campaigner, fresh from his victory in the first regatta since the lockdown starts to ease.
When and why did you first start sailing and in what?
I started sailing in age of 11, but then it was purely recreational thing for me. My father, with his friend, bought a small TopCat catamaran to sail for pleasure. At that time Jacek Noetzel founded the Navigo catamaran sailing school and club. I got there and started sailing on the Nacra 5.7 with my friends and Jacek himself (he was my first sailing coach). Some of them are still sailing, and most of them are my closest friends. I was incredibly lucky to get a chance to meet them, grow and sail with them.
When did you first become aware of the ‘A’ Class Cat?
It was around 2005 when the first A-class cats begun to appear on a regatta in Sopot. As I remember I could not believe that the boat may be so light and so quick, at the same time we (as the kids) were multiple times told not to touch them because they were so fragile.
Where and at what age did you first get a sail on one.
I think it was 2010, my parents bought me a first prototype of WingFox- the Polish A-cat construction. Straight boards, but much smoother than on the Flyer 1 and at that time there was no idea of winglets. Fortunately, I got a durable mast because the amount of pitchpoles was countless. The funny thing was that at the same day, two of my best friends got theirs first A-class boats as well. So again, it was amazing to sail with them.
Fitness and training.
What is your current fitness routine, and do you have any special diet?
It depends on the time of the year, during a no-sailing time I try to do something every day. During a sailing season the number of fitness trainings drops to just a few a week- just to keep fit. About the diet, I still need to gain a few kilos so I try to eat frequently, my wife is an awesome cook, so sometimes I can’t resist her cakes : )
How often do you sail each month?
As often as possible! I just checked my sailing notes and it is approx. 30 hours on the water each month during a season. I guess it is safe to say that the next 30 hours is spend on the boat work.
Do you have any specific fixed training regime?
During my Olympic campaign yes, but right now every week I plan the training for the next 7 days. If we are talking about the sailing training in A-class it must be flexible. Sopot is not the most wind reliable place during summer, and to spend a valuable time on water it is better to sail with a sparring partner. In addition to this we try to do some practice racing every week with a coach on the rib with the camera.
Where did you learn your race tactics?
As I started my sailing on catamarans, I missed a few valuable years on Optimist. Due to that I think that mostly I learned form my own experience. I really value writing down everything after sailing session, so I can think about that later.
Do you practice race tactics in any way whilst training?
As I said before, every week we try to spend a few hours on practice racing in big group. This is a perfect spot for tactics.
Do you concentrate on specific areas when training?
I have a list of things to practice depending on the conditions, and how many boats will be on the water. Sometimes, when I’m alone I just work on my technique, when sailing with a sparring partner we just go for straight line speed test, and if we have possibilities we do a practice races.
Was there a particular technique you found that unlocked something in your sailing?
I don’t think that it was particular one thing, in 2015 I’d spent a season sailing a 49er and found it eye-opening experience. Sailing technique is so important when sailing one of these boats, and I had never focused on it that much before. From that time I’ve spend countless hours making the boat fit my technique and working on the maneuvers and different scenarios. I think that having the confidence that you can foil the reaching leg in 20 knots, or do a tight jibe at the bottom mark lets you to focus on all the things around which are the same important as the right technique.
Do you have a regular sailing partner and what do they do for your sailing?
My main sparring partner is Kuba Surowiec, but I’m very happy to have Jacek Noetzel and Maciej Żarnowski in the Navigo sailing club. Pretty much always there is someone to go out sailing with. Strong group of A-class sailors is probably one of the most important features of sailing in Sopot. Each one of us is pushing the others and we are all happy to share the settings and conclusions after each session.
While talking about the partners I must mention eXploder and Bryt Sails, these companies supply me with the best sailing equipment and are huge help in making the high-level A-class sailing possible for me.
My shins are especially grateful for the protection that Forward WIP provides! This company made great progress in terms of their equipment usability and I am happy to work with them.
What do you most enjoy about sailing the ‘A’ Cat?
I really like the technical part of the A cats, but the thing which gives me most pleasure is competitiveness and being responsible for all my decisions, and at the same time having a great A-class community where everyone is friendly and helpful.
What was your best sailing moment? (and if you feel strong enough, your worst!?)
The best sailing moment is for sure the Worlds in Sopot in 2017. These are my home waters and it was amazing to stand on the second step of the podium after exhausting regatta. It was even more valuable experience because at the beginning of that year I got seriously sick and I needed to step back from trainings and was not confident of getting ready for the Worlds at all. I think that not being able to sail was my worst sailing experience.
If something goes wrong in a race, how do you start to deal with it mentally?
I know that it is just the part of the sailing, and that at the end of regatta it’s the small points that matters. There is nothing I can do about that except of trying to avoid making more mistakes. It is crucial to analyze and eventually take some wisdom from that mistake.
What would you sail if ‘A’ Cats were suddenly banned?
I’ve always wanted to sail a Moth, but most probably I would stay on foiling cats.
What improvements do you feel could be made to the boats currently and which direction do you think the two divisions should be heading?
Probably there is still some place for improvement in foils and the mast-sail combination. I’m careful with predicting the future- I remember that few years ago I was thinking that there is no way that the A-class will be foiling at all.
Where is the best place you have ever sailed your ‘A’ Cat?
I felt in love in lake Garda at the first sight. From that time I can’t wait for sailing or coaching there. I’m very fortunate to be there few times every year.
Who are your sailing heroes and influences?
If I had to choose one, it would probably be Glen Ashby.
What single piece of advice could you give to the average ‘A’ Cat sailor?
Just do what you love!