Right now I sit at the Noges Cafe in Can Pastilla about to have lunch before I go cycling for the fourth consecutive day. The mountains of Mallorca aren’t as steep as Garda but just as challenging. The boat park is mostly empty now except for a few hangers on and the wind is blowing nearly 30 knots. In the last six weeks I’ve done some of the best travelling I’ve ever done and some of the best sailing. The first stop was Auckland.
After training in Sydney for ten days I flew to Auckland, New Zealand for a small but competitive regatta creatively named Sail Auckland. This was my first time in New Zealand and I really didn’t know what to expect of the small island nation. I met with Keno and together we made our way to our Airbnb in Murrays bay, just a 10 minute walk from the yacht club. Sam Meech, a good friend and competitor in the Laser, welcomed us with open arms and showed us some great Kiwi hospitality, driving us around the island to all the good spots and even taking us for a surf trip to the rugged west coast of the island. The regatta was very light which was perfect training for me and I had some great tussles with the locals and internationals alike. I placed 5th overall with Sam taking out the win.
After an action packed seven days in New Zealand I was back in Sydney training with the team, doing the final preparations for Rio. This was a hard block for me, motivation to train was low and my body was beyond exhausted. I was only too happy when it was over and it was time to jump on a plane to a place I never thought I would see. Going to Rio de Janeiro is like taking a step back in time in many ways. Most of the buildings are built in the 1900’s, as well as the streets and infrastructure. The back drop to the city is incredible with Sugarloaf mountain and Christ the Redeemer overlooking Guanabara bay, the CBD and the infamous favelas. My first night in Rio was one of the most interesting. A huge storm rolled through soon after we landed and once we were at our accommodation (the Australian Sailing Teams apartment nicknamed “the hub”) we walked, bare foot, through knee high water and a sea of floating rubbish in the search for dinner. After our failed attempt to find the restaurant we were looking for we ended up settling for Subway, dripping wet and jet lagged to the max.
I spent 13 days in Rio and sailed 9 of them. As expected I got a pretty nasty tummy bug for about 36 hours and spend most of the night on the bathroom floor but other than that I had an excellent time. Tom, Wearny and I were there along with 20 other top nation sailors training and racing everyday. The conditions were amazing and the sailing was super complex with the current shifting as if it was the wind. At the end of the trip we did a four day coaches regatta where I managed to place 6th against some of the best sailors in the world, including wining the final race. The day after the event I was back in the air, rushing to make it to Mallorca in time for the Princess Sofia Regatta.
Amazingly the flight went really well. I thought for sure I would lose my bags or miss a connection as I traveled through Columbia on my way to Europe but some how it all worked out and I arrived in Palma on time for registration. The other difficult part of my late arrival was having no time to test out my new boat. While I was in Rio Sam and Will Phillips, one of Australia’s 49er teams, had collected my boat from Holland and drove the long haul down to Palma with my new boat in tow. Once I arrived I barely had time to sleep, eat, set up my boat and register before the event started so I had no idea how the boat would perform in the mixed conditions Palma always throws up. Needless to say it was a busy two days before the event.
The 152 boat fleet was met with perfect conditions on the first day of racing. 15 knot westerly winds with fun waves and sunshine couldn’t have made for a better day and a pair of third places for me saw that I was fifth after the first day of racing. Can’t complain about that. The first day of finals racing was a bit of a hiccup from me. I didn’t adapt to the conditions or the competitive fleet as quickly as I should have and I didn’t get out of third gear all day. I made sure the next day would be different though. The next 4 races were great. 1, 9, 1, 4 made up the back of my regatta placing me solidly in the medal race and 6th overall. Mathematically I could have finished the regatta in third if things had worked out but that was not the case. After a poor start I worked my way into second place in the medal race behind the great Robert Scheidt but on the final run the wind abandoned me and I had to watch five boats pass me in the last 20 metres of the run. Tough to take but it is what it is. 6th place is one of my best results to date and I plan to keep building on my performance as I prepare for World Cup Hyeres at the end of the month.
Now I’ve just finished my cafe con leche and bocadillo and have to go cycling so until next time.