As I write this I am currently sat in an aeroplane, a few kilometres up above the north coast of Brazil, en route to Rio de Janeiro.
What a difference a year makes! This time 12 months ago I was sat at home, furiously writing, editing and re-editing my mapping project dissertation. With an early January deadline it made for a fairly miserable Christmas! Not so this year; I have just spent a glorious 6 days at home catching up with my wonderful friends and family. I don’t get to spend nearly enough time with them, so time at home is very precious.
2013 was very much a year of two halves for me. My Cambridge finals were in June and they had to take priority. It would have been daft to have compromised three years of hard work at the final hurdle, so sailing took a back seat for the first half of the year. I was still clocking in the gym hours, still making it down to Weymouth to train every other weekend up until April, but after that it was nose to the grindstone, or rather to the textbooks!
Exam term was hard. The defining moment of 2013 were not achieved in either my degree, or in any sailing race. On 28th April I lost one of the most influential people in my life to a long battle with cancer. Mary was many things: teacher, mentor, inspiration, supporter, one of my closest friends, and I miss her. Cambridge finals are not movable. I had to miss both Mary’s thanksgiving service and Bart’s (Andrew Simpson) funeral due to clashes with exams. I was very much there in spirit.
Forty five minutes after I had completed my final viva I was on the train down to Weymouth, to compete in the last few days of Sail for Gold EUROSAF event. It was a bit of a baptism of fire having been out of the boat for a few months, but I was so excited to be out on the water again. A little too excited perhaps, I ended up with two black flag disqualifications in 2 days for being over the start line!
Cambridge exam results went up whilst I was down at Sail for Gold, which made for a nerve wracking day on the water to say the least!! I was shocked and over the moon to get a First. I later found out that I had been awarded the John Reekie Memorial Prize for the best geology dissertation of the year, which I was very honoured to receive. I spent a happy few days up in Cambridge doing the ‘normal student’ things, going to a May Ball and partying until the sun came up, making a cardboard boat for the annual cardboard boat race (this didn’t do much for my seafaring reputation), cheering on Caius in May Bumps, and going to the (very posh) black tie Graduation Dinner.
There is a recurring theme here! The day after graduation, I was back down in Weymouth, and back in the gym! June and July were all about getting back into full time training and getting my body back used to doing land and on the water sailing in the same day. Every day! Gym, sailing, gym, sailing, gym, sailing.
A whirlwind couple of months followed. An amazing first trip to Rio, finishing 9th at the Europeans in Ireland (my first Senior International top 10!), 7th at the Santander 2014 World Championship Test Event, and a somewhat disappointing 28th at the Worlds in China.
October and November in the UK gave some chance for consolidation of everything learned over the summer, a chance to touch base with friends and family, and time to really crack on with fitness. We followed this up with a really productive training block in Gran Canaria, and a week’s fitness camp in Lanzarote just before Christmas.
And so here we are, about to land in Rio for 2 weeks of training, and a couple of mini regattas, and of course to celebrate New Year’s Eve from Copacabana beach! See you all in 2014 for more fun, adventures and debacles. I have some big and exciting goals, and I can’t wait to continue pursuing them. Happy New Year!