Looking back, looking forward

Once again I suddenly realise that another month has come to an end and wonder at how quickly time flies by!

The beginning of June for me was all about our European Championships out in Split, Croatia. The week of training prior to the Europeans was the best I have had in a long time. There were great sailing conditions, I was sailing fast, making good tactical decisions and coming out at or near the front in races with lots of the top International girls. I have never felt so positive or well prepared going into a regatta.

The fact that the outcome of races and regattas is somewhat dictated by what the weather gods have to say is one of the things I love most about sailing. On occasion it is also one of the most frustrating things in the world, and the Europeans was one of those occasions! The weather forecast for the week was not great – lack of wind – which is especially nerve-wracking for me as traditionally light winds have been my less favoured conditions. Training had been going so well that I was still feeling really confident that I could deliver the outcome I was looking for.

Waiting for wind became a bit of a story for the week. We managed to get in 5 out of 6 of the qualifying series races in the first 3 days of the regatta, after which the fleet splits in half and sails in top half and bottom half for the finals series (the next 3 days). I qualified safely for Gold Fleet, and was feeling really happy with the way I was sailing. Conditions had been super shifty and tricky in qualifying and the regatta had been pretty high scoring (i.e. lots of people had got it wrong and had had the odd disastrous race score!!)  Points were all very close so I was very excited to crack on with finals.

Unfortunately we only sailed 1 out of 6 scheduled finals races due to lack of wind, and the 1 race that we did sail had a 70 degree shift in it! I actually didn’t do too badly out of it, but it was a bit more of a lottery than I like sailing to be. Only getting 6 out of 12 races in overall was so frustrating, as there was no opportunity to try and climb the results board. I went into the event aiming for a top 15, which was more than achievable. I ended up 20th in the Europeans (25th overall). It was an odd feeling. Chuffed to bits with how I was sailing, absolutely gutted with the result.

I am incapable of sulking for too long – the longing to get back out on the water is always just too strong. The day after flying home I was down in Weymouth and out training again. To mix it up a bit I spent a few days sailing in small keelboats with a few British Sailing Team members from other classes. As a single-handed sailor, I am beginning to fully appreciate the value of sailing with other people to understand what they are thinking about at various points of the race course. It’s also a lot of fun to talk through your decision making processes… if you do that by yourself in a Laser you look a bit mad…!

I write this from somewhere above the English Channel on route to Santander, Spain, for a week’s training camp. (Our plans to fly out last Wednesday were sabotaged by the oh-so-helpful French air traffic controllers who decided to go on strike!) The key event of the season, and indeed the biggest event in the four year Olympic sailing cycle outside of the Games themselves – the ISAF Sailing World Championships – take place in Santander in September. We went out there for the Worlds Test Event in September last year where I finished up 7th. It is a cool venue, but I have one heck of a lot to learn before September. Lots of interesting land and tidal effects to try and get my head around. Wind-wise, it looks like anything could be thrown at us from very light to blowing dogs off chains.

Lots to learn, lots of hours to get in on the water, lots of hours to count up in the gym, lots of mountains to cycle up and down.

The clock is ticking!