July has been great! It has been such a productive month of training, starting with a training camp in Santander, Spain, which is the venue for the ISAF Sailing World Championships in September.
We have a Laser Radial World Championships every year but the ISAF Worlds only happens once every 4 years – all the Olympic classes have their World Championships together in the same place at the same time. It’s the key event of the 2014 season, and indeed the biggest event in the four year Olympic sailing cycle outside of the Games themselves. Very exciting! It’s a tricky venue, with lots of land and tidal effects, but I’m happy after our camp there that I’m starting to get my head around it. We had a real mix of conditions, from fairly light to big wind and HUUUUUUGE waves. Literally the biggest, steepest waves I have ever sailed in. Surfing down them felt like you were just plummeting a few metres in mid air down the face of every wave, slightly out of control, hoping there was nothing/nobody at the bottom of the next one!! Absolutely awesome! Here’s fingers crossed we get conditions like that during the Championships!
Getting to know a venue before an event is so important, not just on the water knowledge, but feeling comfortable off the water, too. Having routines and knowing exactly where the gym is, where the supermarkets are, how often they are open… it all sounds a bit irrelevant but feeling at home in a place during a big regatta helps you focus 100% on the racing. It’s the reason why we spend so much time away at regatta venues doing pre-event training. We have another couple of week long training camps in Santander before September, to learn more on the water, and to feel like the city is home from home off the water.
Mid July was time for a couple of weeks in Weymouth. I did a lot of training with some of the top National Laser Radial boys. Internationally we only compete against other girls, so it’s cool to be able to sail against the guys. They tend to sail the boat more aggressively and be physically fitter than girls are, so you really have to up your game!
Funny story (well, funny in hindsight!!) from one day of training out alone in Weymouth, in which I managed to spend far too much unplanned time in, rather than on, Portland Harbour. Nice bit of swimming practice across the harbour to rescue a capsized dinghy with a snapped shroud, get back onshore to find a seagull attacking my ropes bag. Said seagull proceeded to fly off with my spare tiller extension joint and drop it just off the slipway. Sprint down slipway, now in dry clothes, skid on the seaweed at bottom of slipway and keep going… and going… dry clothes no longer dry, phone in hand above head. Not my day!!
And now I’m out in Rio. I came out to compete in a bit of the south-eastern Brazilian Laser Championships for a couple of days before the rest of the British Sailing Team appear for the 2014 Rio Test Event. Then there are 3 of us Radial girls out here to do some training for a week before the Test Event starts, and it’s all about learning as much about the venue as possible. Lots of tide, and lots of those picturesque mountains that make the wind conditions somewhat tricky!!
From the training here so far I seem to have been doing a lot of winning against the top International girls, and doing some big personal bests in gym sessions, so I couldn’t really be more positive and confident going forward into the Worlds.
In the meantime, I just need to point out one more time that Rio is awesome!