Lockdown Interviews - Manuel Calavia, ESP

Our next intervewee is the King of Spain, reigning European Champion and World Open No. 4 - Manolo Calavia

Intro

  • When and why did you first start sailing and in what?

I started sailing in Calanova School (Palma de Mallorca Summer Camp) during summer when I was 8 years old in Optimist and Cadete. After that in Calafell beach town (60 km south of Barcelona) in the Yacht Club in Optimist and with 11 years old I started in catamaran with the Hobie Cat 14.

  • When did you first become aware of the ‘A’ Class Cat?

With 16 years old in the Catamaran Spanish Championship in 1996 in Altea. I was in Hobie 17 and it was some A cat sailors coming after the introduction of the boat in Spain with the A Cat Worlds in L´Estartit (North of Spain) just two weeks before.

  • Where and at what age did you first get a sail on one.

18 years old in Barcelona with a Bimare boat. I won Spanish 1999 Championship.

 

Fitness and training.

  • What is your current fitness routine, and do you have any special diet?

Before Covid-19 pandemic I did 1 day gym per week. After the restrictions of mobility that we had in Spain, I am going out 2 nights per week with bike.  Now I am starting a diet to recover my weight prior the pandemic (81 kg) as I am now 84kg. But normally I take normal Mediterranean diet and I avoid eating fried food.

  • How often do you sail each month?

Normally I sail 1 or 2 days a week, depending sailing conditions and work. This year I sailed 5/6 days from January 2.020. From last week of May we are allowed to sail another time and I am sailing 1 or 2 days a week another time.

  • Do you have any specific fixed training regime?

No, if there is other sailor we do speed tests and if I am alone normally I do more maneuvers training.

  • Where did you learn your race tactics?

I continue to learn from each regatta. I think it is one of the best issues of sailing as you continue learning in each regatta. Always mistakes and lessons.  From my side I did Tornado Company for Athens 2004 and I was in the Olympic Spanish Team doing all the Circuit and I learned a lot during that time.

  • Do you practice race tactics in any way whilst training?

No, it is not common, as normally we do speed tests.

  • Do you concentrate on specific areas when training?

I always try to push hard once training. If I do test speed I concentrate in my settings and matters I am looking forward to obtain good information. When I do maneuvers training with marks I try to do them as in normal regatta situations and changing all the time.

  • Was there a particular technique you found that unlocked something in your sailing?

Foiling down wind I found the option to go very down and fast from 2017 in choppy conditions.

  • Do you have a regular sailing partner and what do they do for your sailing?

We are 6 people sailing A Cat in Barcelona and growing. Enrique Cornejo in Classic, Gustavo Doreste, José A. López and Luís Martinez Doreste in Foiling are my common partners, as well as some times Oscar Quirantes also in foiling.  We lost Santi Monjo 2 years ago and it was a big lost as Santi was pushing always to sail more.

 

Mindset 

  • What do you most enjoy about sailing the ‘A’ Cat?

I enjoy the evolution of the class and the competitivity of the regattas. Now also the speed of foiling. 

  • What was your best sailing moment? (and if you feel strong enough, your worst!?

Uffff, I have a lot of good sailing moments as well as worst!!!!! I enjoyed a lot my travel to AUS for Belmont Worlds.

I also remember with very good feeling some Tornado moments during Athens Company with Fernando Echavarri, Antón Paz and my crew Carlos Varea. A lot of funny moments!!!! 

  • If something goes wrong in a race, how do you start to deal with it mentally?

After a lot of years of regattas I found that the regatta finish at the finish line and that you have to fight as hard as possible until that moment.   I remember one Princess Sofia Trophy (think 2001 or 2002) in Tornado that Bundy was sailing with yellow sails and in first up wind he was very late of the fleet and he finished 2 that race with John Forbes as crew.

What I learn is that you can make a mistake at the start, at the first upwind, etc, but at the end if you push hard, the result will not be as bad as it was. This is my mentality in a race. Always fight until the end.

This years at Worlds I capsized at the start of the first race of the last day. I was like 40 at first upwind and I finished 11 that race. It was not a good result, but I didn´t stop to push hard during the race to do my best.

 

General interest

  • What would you sail if ‘A’ Cats were suddenly banned?

Moth, I love that boat.

  • What improvements do you feel could be made to the boats currently and which direction do you think the two divisions should be heading?

I think now we have to improve a lot with masts and sails, at the same direction than the Moth. 

  • Where is the best place you have ever sailed your ‘A’ Cat?

I love my city Barcelona as one of the bests places to sail. Also I enjoyed a lot in Belmont in Australia. Also Garda for sailing (not for racing). 

  • Who are your sailing heroes and influences?

My sailing hero when I was young was Fernando León, gold medal in Tornado in Atlanta 96.  After that, I think in catamaran you have Bundy and Glenny as legends that I have the opportunity to sail and race against them during the years.

  • What single piece of advice could you give to the average ‘A’ Cat sailor?

Enjoy the A Cat sailing as it is an amazing boat to sail and race. And train as hard as you can to improve your skills and found your own fight during the regattas.