Last time I wrote I was in the back of the team car with the rest of the laser squad, driving from Hyeres to Riva Del Garda in the pouring rain. It’s been about a month since then and I’m now sitting outside a café in Perth, sipping on a long mac and enjoying the winter sunlight. Let me catch you up with what’s been going on.
Lake Garda in north Italy is my favourite place in the world. I’ve been going there every year since 2013 and it never disappoints. We spent two weeks there doing a training block this year and even though the weather was a bit wet at times, it was still the highlight of the trip. Mitch, Jez and I had a whole house to ourselves just behind the old town of Riva and it was perfect. The first week was mostly spent cycling and windsurfing, getting our bodies back into shape. The second week we were all on the water nearly every day. Apart from the six Aussies there were two Spanish, a Guatemalan, lots of Italian, Wannes from Belgium of course, and a bunch of other countries I can’t remember. We even had the great Robert Scheit come and join one of our sessions which was a real treat.
After the two weeks was done it was time to leave again. We packed up the trailer and left early to drive to Medemblik in the Netherlands. The last time I made that drive I was in the old green van with Jez and Santi and we didn’t arrive until 1am the next day. This time though we were really efficient with each of us driving for a tank of fuel then rotating so we made it by about 9pm which is still broad daylight in Holland. The last time I did Delta Lloyd Regatta I had just jumped off a plane from Mexico and was super tired. This time I felt much better prepared and we had plenty of time to train and settle into routine. This was by far the warmest I have ever seen Medemblik. Notoriously cold and windy, this year was mostly sunny and light which meant the bugs came out in droves. For those who haven’t been to Medemblik there is vast amounts of stagnant water around and if it starts to get warm the bugs come out to play. Our first day on the water was super light and we were nearly drowning in bugs, I’d never seen anything like it.
The first two days of racing saw some nice winds 8 – 15 knots. The two fleets of 50 boats all fought it out to qualify for gold fleet and I managed to have some good races including a first on the last race of the second day. I went into Gold fleet in 3rd place and 1 point from first but things got challenging from there. I had a solid first race but the wind steadily died as finals racing went on and by the last day we were racing in less than 5 knots of breeze. I struggled to find my way around the course a bit and dropped back to 18th overall. This regatta was a funny one because the medal race was held the same day as the last races so I sat that afternoon with Jez and watched the rest of the Aussie boys compete in the medal race. The next day I still had to get up and race with the remainder of the Gold fleet even though the regatta was over. Weird right! However this regatta still meant a lot to a lot of people as it was a qualifier for next year’s world cup so many people still had plenty to gain. We had a moderate offshore breeze and the hottest day I’ve ever seen in Medemblik, over 30 degrees. I had a good race and chipped away to win it but it was a little too late to change anything. I finished 15th.
After we dropped the boats into their storage Jez and I drove to Hamburg to catch our flight home. Overall the last six weeks in Europe was great and I had a really productive trip but the results just didn’t flow. Back to the grind now, Sydney next week then onto Japan. Plenty to improve on before the worlds starts in September. Finally I’d like to say a huge thank you to Fremantle Sailing Club for their ongoing support of my Olympic Campaign. I wouldn’t be able to do it without your generosity.
See you on the water,
This season I’m hoping for a break through. This will now be my fifth season competing full time and my fifth time racing in World Cup Hyeres. Father time is ticking but I’m well aware you can’t force success the same way you can’t force a race win. It has to be earnt with hard work, good decision making and a clear head. Everything has to be just right to even earn a seat at the table of success and even then only a select few will achieve what so many want.
This years campaign was precluded with two months preparation in Sydney with the rest of the Australian Laser Team and sometimes the New Zealand Laser Team as well. With plenty of in house racing and training against some of the worlds best, including the current Gold and Bronze medallists, I felt good about the season ahead. I flew straight from Sydney into Hamburg to collect the team car and trailer before doing the long haul drive down to the south of France.
I was on accommodation duties this year as I was staying with fellow team mates Mitchell and Jeremy so I booked a nice Airbnb a couple of km’s out of Le Port De Hyeres on the southern peninsular. We had four really good days on the water in bright sun with good wind but as usual it wouldn’t last with some cold northerly winds coming for the regatta.
With a 60 boat fleet and closed entry only the best of the best get the chance to compete in World Cup Hyeres which makes the racing of the highest caliber. The winds always throw up a mix with anything from windy and wavy to light and flat. This year was no exception with some really slow moving shifts making strategy a nightmare. I really didn’t race well and had a tough time getting myself off the start line. I finally got myself sorted on the last day and started to race well but it was way too little too late. Hopefully it’s a sign of better things to come. I write this now from the back of the team van driving to my favourite place in the world, Riva Del Garda in Northern Italy, so it’s hard to stay down. Hopefully two weeks of good training on the bike and in the boat will put me in good stead for the racing in Holland at the end of the month.
See you on the water,