Cycle camp Palma was a success. After some great riding and awesome weather the team geared up and got on the 10 pm ferry to Barcelona to start the next leg of our journey. The ISAF Sailing World Cup in Hyeres is normally a tough event. Many consider it the Wimbledon of the sailing tour but this year is special. Not only is it a pre-Olympic year, not only does the event count as Australia’s first qualification for the games, but this year only the top 40 Laser sailors in the world get to compete.
The training leading into the event was intense and focused. Everyone feels the pressure of events such as these and as the regatta got closer, so the team separated into their own space.
Day 1: Not the start to the event I wanted. After a poorly timed bail out at the start and being pushed to the fringes of the beat I had a tough time gaining any ground on the fleet. Race two saw an excellent mid line start and good speed but some fantastically terrible decisions equaled that out pretty quickly and brought me to the back. I was placed 38th after the first day. At least I couldn’t go back much further.
Day 2: Bad starts make bad races. This statement isn’t always true but it was this time. In medium airs with small wind shifts and the top 40 one design racers in the world to come up against I had a hard time keeping my results steady. I did manage a 15th in the final race of the day but it wasn’t enough to save me. I was placed 33rd by the end of the day.
Day 3: Flat water and light air. Tough conditions to differentiate yourself in at the best of times but this was something different. As my coach Ash said “this is definitely a school of hard knocks”. A strategy that went wrong gave me a big score in the first race. The second race was different though. A breakthrough of sorts. I had an amazing start and this somehow put me at the front of the fleet. It was great while it lasted but in a fleet like this it doesn’t take much to be back in the bunch and unfortunately that happened to me. However this race did change things for me. It gave me the belief that I can be at the front, even among the best in the world and it gave me confidence leading into the final day. I was placed 32nd.
Day 4: Much better starts and some confidence goes a long way. I felt I was in the game and even when things didn’t go so well I was making the most of each situation. I even had the thrill of getting a start – first beat combo together, allowing me to round the top mark in a close third. I placed 9th in the race but if a few other things had gone my way I would have won. I finished the regatta 26th overall, the best I had been all week and even though I didn’t get what I wanted to achieve, I was happy with the way I handled the situation and improved as the event went on. A year ago I wouldn’t have come close to a performance like that and it shows I’ve become more mature in my thinking and the way I conduct myself.
Now I’m back in my favourite place in the world, Lake Garda, Italy. It”s probably the most famous sailing location in the world and also happens to be the best training ground in the world. In the 4 days I’ve been here I’ve cycled 150 km, done 2 sessions in the gym and done 2 sick windsurfing sessions. Life doesn’t get much better.